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Gary Glitter (born Paul Francis Gadd, 8 May 1944) is an English former glam rock singer-songwriter and musician. His long and highly successful career was ended in the late 1990s by repeated revelations of and criminal convictions for possession of child pornography and (in the 2000s) for child sexual abuse.
Glitter first came to prominence in the glam rock era of the early 1970s, with a sustained solo UK chart run and several hits including "Rock and Roll, Parts One and Two", "Do You Wanna Touch Me", "I Love You Love Me Love", "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" and "Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again". A slight decline in the late 1970s was followed by a successful comeback as a solo artist again from the 1980s. Between 1972 and 1995, Glitter had 26 hit singles which spent a total of 180 weeks in the UK Top 100; twelve of those reached the Top 10, with three charting at number 1. He continued to record in the 1980s and 1990s, with his 1984 song "Another Rock n' Roll Christmas" becoming one of the most played Christmas hits of all time. He released seven studio albums, and at least 15 greatest hits collections or live albums. In 1998, his recording of "Rock and Roll" was listed as one of the top 1,001 songs in music history. The mostly instrumental "Rock and Roll, Part 2" has been played as a popular cheering song at American sporting events for several decades.
The BBC described Glitter's fall from grace as "spectacular". He was convicted three times for driving under the influence, which in 1987 saw him receive a ten-year driving ban and narrowly escape imprisonment. The late 1990s saw Glitter's image become irreparably tarnished, following his 1997 arrest and 1999 conviction in the United Kingdom for possession of thousands of items of child pornography. Later, Glitter faced criminal charges and deportation from several countries including Vietnam and Cambodia and the UK connected with actual and suspected child sexual abuse, after a Vietnamese court found him guilty of obscene acts with minors in 2006; he had been living in Vietnam since deportation from Cambodia on suspected child sexual abuse charges in 2002. Glitter was deported from Vietnam back to Britain at the end of his sentence, where he was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.
These convictions effectively ended his long career and turned the once-popular entertainer into a prominent hate figure. In October 2012, Glitter was arrested again, and bailed, as part of Operation Yewtree, an extensive police investigation into alleged sexual abuse that dates back to the 1950s, connected to the activities of alleged child abuser Jimmy Savile.
Paul Francis Gadd was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire. His mother, a cleaner, was unmarried, and initially brought him up with the help of her mother; he never knew his father. He was hard to control and at the age of 10, along with his brother, he was taken into local authority care. Although a Protestant, he was educated at a Roman Catholic school. He frequently ran away to London, to the clubs that were to be the launching ground of his career.
By the time he was 16, Glitter was already performing at London clubs. His career grew as he appeared at such venues as the Two I's, in Soho, and the Laconda and Safari Clubs. His repertoire consisted of early rock'n'roll standards and gentle ballads. He got his first break when film producer Robert Hartford Davis discovered him and financed a recording session for Decca Records. In January 1960, at 18, under the stage name Paul Raven, he released his first single, "Alone in the Night".
A year later, with a new manager, Vic Billings, he signed a new recording contract with Parlophone and worked with producer George Martin, before Martin's association with the Beatles. Martin produced two singles, "Walk on Boy" and "Tower of Strength", but neither sold very well and Raven's recording career stalled. By 1964, while Martin's work with the Beatles was conquering the world, Raven was reduced to working as an assistant, and playing the warm-up for the British television programme Ready Steady Go!. He did numerous TV commercials and film auditions, and in the course of those activities met arranger-producer Mike Leander who eventually helped revive his career. He even auditioned for the role of the protagonist in the film Privilege, which was written and directed by Peter Watkins, who directed the controversial docu-drama, The War Game.
Raven joined the Mike Leander Show Band in early 1965. Then he was deputised to produce a few recording sessions by such artists as Thane Russell and a Scottish beat group, the Poets. After Leander's group disbanded, Raven formed Boston International with saxophonist John Rossall, and spent the following five years touring the UK and Germany, recording occasionally. From 1968 to 1970, several singles including "Musical Man", "Goodbye Seattle" and a version of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun", put him back into record stores, changing his name briefly to Paul Monday. As the glam movement hit full swing in 1971, Raven took the new name Gary Glitter, which he devised by playing alliteratively with letters of the alphabet, working backwards from Z. Other options included Terry Tinsel, Stanley Sparkle and Vicky Vomit. The style that would come to define Gary Glitter had taken its basic shape.
The song that made Gary Glitter's name and career began as a 15-minute jam, whittled down to a pair of three-minute extracts released as the A and B sides of a single, called "Rock and Roll, Parts One and Two". "Rock and Roll (Part Two)" proved to be the more popular side in many countries, although it took about six months before it made its full impact, going to number two on the British pop charts and reaching the Top Ten in the United States, one of the few British glam rock records to do so. "Rock and Roll (Part One)" was also a hit: in France it made number one, and in the UK both sides were listed together on the charts.
"Rock and Roll" was followed by other successes: for the next three years, Glitter, backed by the Glittermen/the Glitter Band on stage, challenged Sweet, Slade, and T.Rex for domination of the charts. To reinforce his image, he reportedly owned 30 glitter suits and fifty pairs of silver platform boots. He also released several singles which became British Top 10 hits, with "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" being his first single to reach number one in the summer of 1973, and "I Love You Love Me Love", its follow-up, his second. Even an atypical ballad, "Remember Me This Way", went to number three. He had eleven consecutive Top Ten singles, from 1972's "Rock and Roll (Parts One and Two)" to "Doing Alright With the Boys" in the summer of 1975.
"Rock and Roll (Part Two)" caught on as a popular sports anthem in North America. Often used as a goal song or celebration song, fans chanted "Hey!" along with the chorus. In addition, the fans of the Miami Heat, instead of "Hey!", chant "Heat!". In light of Glitter's court convictions (see below), some teams have stopped using the song, though it remains heavily played.
Despite his success in the UK, Glitter never made the same impact in America where, at best, glam rock was seen as a curiosity. Glitter had one more entry on the US charts with "I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock 'n Roll)"; after that, the closest chart success for Glitter was a cover recording of "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" by Brownsville Station.
After "Doing Alright With the Boys", Glitter won the award for Best Male Artist at the Saturday Scene music awards hosted by LWT. His next release was a cover of the Rivingtons' rhythm and blues classic "Papa Oom Mow Mow", but it got no higher than number 38 on the British charts. After subsequent releases stalled in similar fashion, Gary Glitter announced his retirement from music to start a family life with his new partner in early 1976. That same year, his first hits package, simply titled Greatest Hits, was released. It entered the UK Top 40 best-seller charts. A similar budget album, entitled I Love You Love Me Love, was issued by Hallmark Entertainment the following year.
Comeback and business interests:
In 1976, Glitter faced declining record sales. He took a two-year-long exile, living in France and Australia, before returning to the UK, and beginning his comeback.
Glitter's career took a downturn towards the end of the 1970s, leading to his first bankruptcy (he went bankrupt a second time over unpaid tax bills in the 1990s). Under financial pressure, not even a pair of Top 40 hit singles ("It Takes All Night" and "A Little Boogie Woogie in the Back of My Mind") could lift him all the way back. It took the post-punk audience, and some of its artists who still respected Glitter's work, to do that; he had been an influence on post-punk, new wave, britpop and hair metal, as well as early punk rock itself. Around this time, Glitter settled into being a performer with a cult following that continued until his child pornography conviction in the late 1990s. This helped provide the opportunity for Glitter to cut a dance medley of his greatest hits, "All That Glitters", which charted in 1981. Within three years, he was playing 80 shows a year at colleges and clubs and had chart hits "Dance Me Up" (UK No.25) and "Another Rock N' Roll Christmas" (#7).
Glitter's comeback was boosted in the 1980s by various guest spots and collaborations, leading to his becoming a cult figure with students. In 1982, he appeared on the British Electric Foundation album Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One (UK #25) along with fellow pop/rock luminaries Sandie Shaw and Tina Turner. In 1988, the Timelords' "Doctoring the Tardis", a Doctor Who tribute that sampled "Rock and Roll (Part Two)", reached the number one spot. In due course, Glitter re-cut "Rock and Roll" with producer Trevor Horn and also "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" with Girlschool. In the late 1980s, his hit singles were used to compile the Telstar-released C'mon, C'mon ... It's the Gary Glitter Party Album. In 1989, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers put a large sample of "Another Rock and Roll Christmas" on their Number 1 UK hit "Let's Party".
In 1991, Glitter opened a restaurant in the West End of London. Glitter's Snack Bar was promoted under the slogan "Leader of the Snack". It was successful at first, but business eventually slowed and the restaurant closed in the late 1990s.
Glitter also launched his own record label in the early 1990s, Attitude Records, after he lost his deal with Virgin Records. He had signed to Virgin after leaving Arista Records in 1984 after twelve years with the label. Attitude records was merged into Machmain Ltd later in the 1990s, a music company owned by Glitter.
Glitter spent the next decade mostly as an in-demand live performer, and his back catalogue of recordings proved durable enough that several compilations sold well. Glitter appeared in several humorous billboard and poster advertisements for British Rail, in one of which he was shown attempting to look younger (and quite clearly failing) in order to obtain a Young Persons Railcard. He also issued a new studio album Leader II in 1991 which sold reasonably well.
He was a surprise hit at the 1994 World Cup concert in Chicago, which was telecast live to forty-six countries. He played the Godfather in the 1996 revival tour of The Who's Quadrophenia. He also cut a single, a new version of "The House of the Rising Sun". British rock group Oasis used a sample from Glitter's 1973 chart hit, "Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again" on their 1995 multi-million-selling album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, one of a number of acts that borrowed from his songbook.
"Rock and Roll (Part Two)" by this time was being used heavily as a crowd-rouser at numerous sporting events, and it was featured in the hit films The Full Monty, Happy Gilmore, Meet the Fockers, and The Replacements.
Career moves since 2000:
In 2002, Snapper records re-promoted The Ultimate Gary Glitter, a two-CD anthology of Glitter's music first issued in 1997, days after his arrest (see below), which covers his commercial breakthrough in 1972 up to that point; again it was moderately successful.
In September 2001 he released a new album, On, that included material written before his 1999 British conviction. That material was to have been part of a project called Lost on Life Street until that album's release was cancelled following his arrest. By December 2004, after releasing a new single, "Control", Glitter was in the news again concerning his behaviour; NGOs had been petitioning the government with their own evidence aimed at arresting Glitter. Glitter moved to Vietnam.
In 2005 Remember Me This Way, the documentary filmed at Glitter's career peak in 1973 (and originally released in 1974), was issued for the first time on DVD. Glitter's music itself still had an audience, further demonstrated by three new album releases, although all of them contained past recordings from the vaults, rather than new product. The first two new albums were issued at the same time, The Remixes and Live in Concert (the latter of which was a 1981 recording). These were only for sale on the Internet. A new collection of Glitter's chart hit singles followed, The Best of Gary Glitter. In 2006 his back catalogue was made available via the Internet from sites such as iTunes and eMusic.
In 2011 a collection of hits and B-sides was issued under the title All that Glitters.
News reports stated that, as of late July 2013, Glitter may have earned a total of £1 million from royalties derived from the Oasis song that samples "Hello, Hello, I'm back again". Music industry lawyer Craig Brookes cited this monetary sum in addition to the royalties from his back catalogue of songs--£300,000 a year or more--and the estimated £200,000 Glitter was awarded for copyright infringement after he enacted legal action against Oasis in 1999.
Influence on other musicians:
Gary Glitter was very influential on many musicians and genres from the 1970s onwards, especially British punk, post-punk, new wave, gothic rock, Britpop and hair metal.
Mark E. Smith was a Glitter fan. "I was really into Gary Glitter, and I used to get bad-mouthed for it. It was like 'You've got to be into David Bowie or Yes - Gary Glitter's just tripe'. And I was going 'It's fuckin' great. It's avant-garde... Well, two drummers and all that - it was really percussive. It was the only decent thing around", the Fall frontman said in 1993, speaking to NME.,
"Glam was fairly good at the time; also it was almost all we had. It could look ridiculous but musically it was often alright. Sometimes when you listen back bits of it sound quite punk. I liked Gary Glitter, Hello, Slade; they were all laying the roots to punk. Some of Bowie and Lou Reed were very good and Bolan of course. I suppose it had a bit of influence, but not a lot." - Knox from the Vibrators citing glam rock acts, including Glitter, as an influence on punk.,
In July 1963, Gadd married Ann Murton. The following year they had a son, also called Paul, and in 1966 a daughter, Sarah. They divorced in 1972. In February 2001, he had another son, Gary, Jr., with Yudenia Sosa Martínez, born 1973, with whom he was then living in Cuba.
Glitter had homes in Wedmore, North Somerset and London at the time of his arrest in 1997.
On 20 January 2008, the News of the World reported that the singer had suffered a severe heart attack. These reports were denied, although it was confirmed that he had been diagnosed with heart problems. "Glitter was admitted to our hospital with acute diarrhoea", said Nguyen Huu Quang, the director of the hospital in Bình Thuận Province, near the prison where the singer was serving out his sentence. "While we were treating him, we found out that he also has a cardiovascular disorder."
During the 1980s, Glitter was convicted of driving under the influence for the third time, which led to a 10-year driving ban; he narrowly escaped a prison term.
Child pornography arrest and conviction:
In November 1997, Glitter was arrested after pornographic images of children were discovered on the hard drive of a Toshiba laptop that he had taken for repair to a branch of PC World at Cribbs Causeway, near Bristol. As a result, he was castigated in the media over the allegations. Additionally, his appearance in the Spice Girls' film Spiceworld The Movie was cut. Nevertheless, a truncated edit of the scene, featuring a version of Glitter's "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)", was still included in the film. In the months before his conviction, he thanked audiences for their support at his last show before his trial.
In 1999, Glitter was sentenced to four months' imprisonment and listed as a sex offender in the UK following conviction for downloading thousands of items of child pornography.
He was also charged with having sex with an underage girl, Alison Brown, around 20 years earlier, when she was 14 years old. She had had a relationship with Glitter for some years. Glitter was acquitted of this charge. It was later revealed that Brown had sold her story to the News of the World and stood to earn more money from the newspaper should Glitter be convicted.
Following a rejection by the British public and facing scrutiny from the press following his arrest and conviction, Gary Glitter fled on his yacht to Spain. Upon being discovered there, he set sail again, ultimately travelling to Gibraltar, Cuba, Mexico, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Portugal, Brazil, Venezuela, and Thailand, before settling in Cambodia.
South East Asia:
Glitter lived in Cambodia until 2002, before being permanently deported to Vietnam because of suspected child sexual abuse.
Vietnam underage sex conviction:
From March 2005, Glitter resided in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam. In late 2005, at age 61, Gary Glitter was arrested by Vietnamese authorities and charged with molesting two underaged girls, aged 10 and 11, at his home in Vũng Tàu. He initially faced possible child rape charges carrying the death penalty, but prosecutors did not find enough evidence for those charges, so Glitter was instead tried for lesser child sexual abuse charges. Early in 2006, he was convicted of committing obscene acts with minors and sentenced to three years imprisonment. On one of two appeals, in 2007 this was reduced by three months. He was released from prison on 19 August 2008 and returned to London three days later, after being refused entry into Thailand and Hong Kong.
Arrest and trial:
Despite having applied for permanent residence in Vietnam, Gary Glitter fled his home on 12 November 2005. Three days later, he was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City while trying to board a flight to Thailand. Six Vietnamese girls and women, aged from 11 to 23, claimed that Glitter had had sex with them; the age of consent in Vietnam is 18.
After his arrest, Glitter was turned over to provincial police from Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu and returned to Vũng Tàu and held on suspicion of having sex with the two under-age girls. Glitter was held in jail throughout the criminal investigation, which was completed on 26 December 2005. The charge of rape was dropped for "lack of evidence" (according to Glitter's lawyer), although the singer admitted that an 11-year-old girl had slept in his bed. Glitter could have faced execution by firing squad if convicted of child rape. After having received compensatory payments from Glitter, the families of the girls appealed to the courts for clemency for him.
On 2 March 2006 Glitter was tried on charges of committing obscene acts with two girls, aged 10 and 11, facing up to 14 years in prison if convicted. The following day he was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. He was also forced to pay compensation of $320 to each girl's family, as well as court fees. Judge Hoang Thanh Tung: "He sexually abused and committed obscene acts with children many times in a disgusting and sick manner."
The sentence included mandatory deportation at the end of his sentence, and payment of 5 million Vietnamese dong (US$315) to his victims' families. Glitter continued to deny any wrongdoing, saying he believes he was framed by British tabloid newspapers. He announced he planned to spend part of his sentence writing an autobiography, which he had already begun during his pre-trial.
Glitter, in his first interview in more than eight years to BBC News in May 2006, denied any wrongdoing and claimed not to have knowingly had sex with anyone under 18. He also said "I know the line not to cross". When asked what he thought of adults having sex with children he said "It certainly is a crime ... I would be very angry about that." Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking, criticised Glitter and said he was trying to "minimise what he has done" and added "We must allow children to tell their story and not just have the words of Gadd."
In his interview, Glitter denied that he was a paedophile. He said that he had hoped that there was even a slim chance he could put his life back on track and have a career after he left prison in England. The people around him felt that the media had already made a sensation about the paedophile allegations. He continued to blame the press for his downfall and called them "the worst enemy in the world", alleging 'entrapment' by them by paying local girls in a bar to arrange a photo-scoop. Glitter did not comment about his previous conviction for possession of child pornography several years earlier.
On 15 June 2006, in a closed hearing, the People's Supreme Court of Appeals heard Glitter's appeal for a reduced sentence. The three-judge panel rejected the appeal four weeks later. Although he was calm throughout the 40-minute reading of the verdict, upon leaving the courthouse, he shouted angrily to reporters and denounced Vietnamese justice for not hearing the defence arguments. On 7 February 2007, it was announced that his sentence had been reduced by three months. In anticipation of his release, the Philippines barred Glitter from entering that country as of 16 May 2008.
Glitter's Vietnamese lawyer, Le Thanh Kinh, said that his client intended to return to the UK, although he had also expressed interest in moving to either Hong Kong or Singapore. In the UK it was reported that he would be placed on the Sex Offenders Register on his return. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said he should be given a Foreign Travel Order (FTO) banning him from overseas travel: "We need to control him, and he will be controlled once he returns to this country."
Glitter was released from Thu Duc prison in southern Bình Thuận Province on 19 August 2008. He was escorted under police guard to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and put on board a flight to London via Bangkok. At Bangkok he claimed that he had tinnitus and a heart condition, and refused to board the flight to London despite the efforts of British police sent to escort him, although they had no jurisdiction to take action. He was refused entry to Thailand and threatened with deportation to the UK. On the evening of 20 August, he took a flight to Hong Kong, where he requested medical treatment saying he was suffering a heart attack. The Hong Kong authorities also refused to admit him and he returned to Thailand the next day.
At least 19 countries, including Cuba, Cambodia, and the Philippines, announced that they would refuse to admit Glitter, and on 21 August the Thai authorities stated that he had agreed to return to the UK. He arrived back in the UK at Heathrow Airport at 7:10 am on 22 August 2008, where he was met by British police officers.
On his return to the United Kingdom, Glitter was added to the Sex Offenders Register for life, and stated an intention to appeal against this decision; on 16 January 2009 it was announced that he had abandoned this move.
Plans after prison release:
On 25 June 2008, The Daily Telegraph reported that Gary Glitter planned to record a new album on his prison release. He was quoted as saying "I have an incomplete album that I want to finish. I have been thinking about the plan during my days in jail, I have sung rock 'n' roll for 40 years. After jail, I will continue to rock 'n' roll." After his release from prison, Glitter said that he was planning to write a book to prove his innocence.
Alleged involvement in the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal:
In October 2012, ITV showed the documentary "The Other Side of Jimmy Savile" in its Exposure strand, which detailed allegations of sexual misconduct by the late BBC DJ and presenter. The story developed and extended over the ensuing weeks, and included an accusation against Glitter. He was alleged to have been seen having sex with a 13- or 14-year-old girl in Savile's dressing room at the BBC. On 28 October, Glitter was arrested and questioned by police in London. Glitter was released on police bail until the middle of December, and was subsequently re-bailed until February. On 5 June 2014, Glitter was charged with eight counts of sexual offences committed against two girls aged 12-14 between 1977 and 1980.
In November 2009, the UK's Channel 4 showed a drama (or 'mockumentary') called The Execution of Gary Glitter. Set in an imaginary Britain in which the death sentence has been re-introduced, the drama examines the possible consequences of capital punishment when Glitter is put on trial as a paedophile under imagined Capital Crimes Against Children legislation. The drama was written by Rob Coldstream and starred Hilton McRae as Glitter.
During his long career as a singer, Glitter undertook many tours to various venues around the world. His first tour was of the Middle East, as Paul Raven and the Boston International in 1967. He toured amongst other places, Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Armenia.
In 1973, Glitter undertook a world tour to celebrate his new-found fame. He toured Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand.
He continued to tour until 1976, and his retirement from music, he visited Australia some twenty times, and toured Europe and America several times.
During his comeback period of the 1980s, he did fewer tours, and mainly toured Britain. He did shows in Ireland, Germany, France, America and Bahrain. During the 1990s, he toured America several times, finally gaining the significant popularity he sought in the 1970s. In 1995, he undertook his last major tour, visiting Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok and Singapore. In 1996, he toured with the Who across America. His final tour, entitled "A Night Out With The Boys: Could This Be For The Last Time?" took place in 1997. During his residence in Vietnam, he sang in local bars and clubs in Vũng Tàu. Fanart Banner