Thursday, December 1, 2005

'He was incredibly popular with young audiences'
A couple overviews of Gary Glitter's latest troubles.

In the rock n' roll era his has to go down as one of the strangest fames on record.

Forget glam rock, the silly hair or his actual success in Britain and elsewhere (did this guy really sell 18-million records? how is that possible?). Just consider everything after, say, 1995. Or, well, everything on the left side of the Atlantic.

In the realm of sports anthems, his Rock n Roll Part 2 is bested really only by Queen's We Will Rock You (because, of course, nothing goes together better than hyper-masculinity and a flamboyant, gay, British rock god). Aside from We Will Rock You, Take Me Out To The Ballgame and the American national anthem, there isn't another song more closely associated with the wide world of sports, professional and otherwise (though college basketball fans can argue for One Shining Moment and Canadians can campaign for the Hockey Night In Canada theme). That is no small matter.

Consider that basically every night of every year for at least the last ten to fifteen years, Rock n Roll Part 2 has been played somewhere in North America, at least once, for a gathering of anywhere between 125 and 65,000 people. That's actually probably a pretty conservative estimate, given that on most night it's probably played in dozens of arenas and stadiums. But let's just assume it's only played once. Even then, that's the equivalent of the greatest one-song, non-stop tour in the history of rock n' roll. And probably qualifies Rock n Roll Part 2 as one of the five or six pieces of music that would be instantly recognizable to about 95% of the population (Happy Birthday, the American national anthem, the foot-stomping beat to We Will Rock You, Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone...).

Paul Anka could probably lay claim to something similar with the theme to the Tonight Show. But even that would only be instantly identifiable to a certain generation. Play Rock n Roll Part 2 to just about anybody and they would probably immediately link it to sports.

The first twist, of course, is that only about 5% of the population actually knows what the song is called. And only about half of those people have any idea who the hell Gary Glitter is. Meanwhile, those who do know who Gary Glitter is know that he's won a reputation as one of rock's biggest perverts. Which adds a whole other level of weirdness to the song's ubiquity.

Rock n roll is almost exclusively about freaks, weirdos, one-hit wonders and drug-eating suicide monsters, but we're not sure you could find too many others with that kind of fame.

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