Tony Visconti found Glam Rock buried in the basement of the UFO Club in London when he saw Tyrannosaurus Rex play to a crowd of 200 hippies on instruments they found in the garbage. Obviously I’m not talking about the giant, prehistoric reptile! I mean the band founded by Marc Bolan, and Steve Took (which is not as well known as the giant lizard). It was Visconti’s assignment to go out, and find a new band for the record label to sign as part of his six-month visit to England from Brooklyn, NY. At the time, they were folk heavy on the sound, but after three records, they topped the charts in the UK. It was the 1970’s. The radical US political group, The Weathermen (later called the Weather Underground) HAD gone underground, the Summer of Love died in a biker rage at a Stone’s concert, and the British Invasion of the US Billboard Top 100 was showing little sign of stopping. You ready boys and girls, because we’re about to get it on like a gong. Glitter? Check. Hair? Check. Unbridled, raw, sexual rock lyrics? Double check.
Let’s talk about who comes to mind when we all think of Glam Rock: David Bowie. A month or two after meeting Marc Bolan of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Tony Visconti was introduced to David Bowie. A man he worked for suggested he meet Bowie saying he had a talent for, “working with odd artists [paraphrased].” Bowie and Visconti hit it off, talking about everything from their favorite musicians, spoken word artists, and seeing the new Polanski film, Knife In The Water (Original US release in 1962)* before parting ways at around nine in the evening. His first album was apparently a mish-mash of inspiration from show-tunes, folk, rock and everything else in between. Bowie took time to discover himself, according to Visconti. In the few years they worked together, Bowie took mime classes, and discovered the art of Kabuki Theater. Both of these heavily influenced his showmanship.
Mime taught him how to use his body, and Kabuki inspired the wardrobe and makeup of his stage persona. He may not have been the impetus of the movement, but he was certainly one of its most major influencers. As soon as he wore what he wore, everyone rushed to copy him without understanding the source material and inspiration he was working from. The influence of Kabuki makeup, and the strong pronouncement of