GARY GLITTER IS ON TWITTER!!!
Lock up your daughters!! Or, as if indeed it is actually Paul Francis Gadd ‘tweeting’* nobody needs locking away from the hapless reviled old aged pensioner, and certainly nobody need fear the man. To suggest they do is to swallow, hook line & sinker, everything the tabloid press have fed you about their favourite whipping boy.
(*As suspected, the Twitter account was not Glitter/Gadd but the work of some strange agent of morality – it was, apparantly a “social experiment” to find out how sex offenders could, shock horror, have access to the Worldwide Web after they have served their time. I call it ‘trolling’)
The tabloid press – particularly the Murdoch-owned press – have been overly successful in convincing an entire nation that a hammy pop star of yesteryear is in fact ‘Public Enemy No.1’. The question people should ask (well, do sheep ask questions?) is how on earth, in an informed and civilised society, does the very mention of an old pop star’s alias get people foaming at the mouth and issuing demented and often illiterate statements on internet forums as if he’s a mass child rapist (which he isn’t, by the way). To understand why, we have to go back in time.
Once upon a time in 1972 there was a singer/entertainer called Paul Gadd. Mr Gadd had been recording for over 10 years with little success under alias’s such as Paul Raven and Paul Monday. Noting the success in 1971 of the glitter-faced Marc Bolan with T.Rex, Gadd and his long-standing mentor Mike Leander (who was a very experienced producer, writer and arranger, having even worked with The Beatles on ‘Sgt Pepper’) jokingly suggested new guises – and came up with the name Gary Glitter. They came up with a stomping – and pretty unique sounding – track called Rock & Roll, and this slowly climbed the UK charts, becoming a massive hit that summer. Gadd, Leander & their group The Glitter Band followed Rock & Roll with a series of excellent follow-ups, but – as is typical in the pop game – by late 1974 his star was starting to dip and the singles became less impressive. By early 1976 Gary Glitter, having released a couple of ‘flop’ singles, announced he was ‘retiring’. However, by January 1977 he was on the comeback trail amidst a flurry of headlines about drink problems, weight gain, depression etc – and so began Gary Glitter’s close relationship with the tabloid press. Over the years he was kept in the news, announced multiple ‘comebacks’ and released various low-selling and little known singles. He had a slight renaissance in 1984 with two (decent actually) hits and by the late 80s had built up a cult following as a live act. In spite of little of note recording-wise, by the mid-90’s he was a big celebrity again, a ‘legend’, hosting Top Of The Pops every December – and all basically down to recording a handful of great glam rock singles some 20 years previous. What did Gary Glitter have at this point that his peers – Alvin Stardust, Barry Blue, Suzi Quatro, The Sweet – didn’t have to maintain this celebrity?
The answer, somewhat lost in time now, is Gary Glitter owed his celebrity status in the 90s almost entirely to the British Tabloids. Despite releasing little music of note, The Sun and it’s sister paper News Of The World had kept him in the news since his first ‘comeback’ in 1977. It’s also prudent to note at this point that, personality-wise, Gary Glitter was always much the same. He was always egotistical, always a ‘little strange’, always had a fondness for young (teens & 20s) girls – and never sought to conceal any of these traits. His songs have always been somewhat salacious (‘Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)’, ‘Hard On Me’ (chorus of ‘Hard On… Hard On.. Me’), ‘What Your Mama Don’t See (Your Mama Don’t Know)” etc) and self-aggrandising, he was always a figure of (self) ridicule – he was an old ‘young’ pop star in his 30s with a tendency to put on weight, a strange kind of pin-up in the age of Bolan & Bowie. A lot of people he encountered back then disliked the prima donna. Why, then, did he secure so much support from the nations biggest-selling tabloids for so long? We can only speculate.
So, we’re in late 1997. Gary Glitter, 53 years of age and his ‘hit’ days now over 20 years ago, is a “legend”, a big star. He tours annually, hosts TV shows and has just – as a musical ‘legend’ – appeared in a cameo role in the Spice Girls “SpiceWorld” movie. He had a song-writing credit on Oasis’ multi-million selling album of the decade ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’ and everything in his garden is rosy. Then he decides to take his computer in for a repair at PC World. They find photographs of child sexual abuse on his hard-drive, and whilst there is no evidence he was anyway involved in the photographs it has now become a criminal offence to be ‘in possession’ of such pictures, and Paul Francis Gadd is duly arrested and charged. This left the ‘Voice Of The Nation’ (The Sun/NOTW) with a problem, here was a man whom – in their eyes – they had ‘made’. And here he was exposed to the world as someone who, if not a paedophile (a much abused term, if you pardon the pun, that means someone sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children), had sought out, for some kind of gratification, pictures of child abuse most of us would find repugnant.
At this stage, Gary Glitter decides, understandably. to adopt a much lower profile as he waits for his case to go to trial. Kelvin McKenzie and co, who had made this Gary Glitter a lot of money over the past 20 years, now went on the attack of their once favourite son. Max ‘Cheque Book’ Clifford went trawling for some ‘rent-a-victims’ but all he could come up with was a girl who, many years previously, had allegedly had a relationship with Glitter when she was under the age of consent. He was charged with this too, but – having pleaded guilty to possession of the child abuse photo’s (I refuse to call it ‘pornography’, it is bringing the word into disrepute), he pleaded Not Guilty to the new charge and it was heard in court. Whilst the trial was ongoing it came to light that, surprise surprise, the News Of The World had entered into contract with this ‘victim’ that, if they secured a conviction, they would pay her a princely sum as reward. This irregularity got the court case thrown out, and the ‘victim’, Waxy Maxy and the News Of The World an embarrassing and very public reprimand from the trial Judge. Glitter was sentenced for possessing the distasteful images of child abuse, served a few months in prison, came out and gave a press conference apologising for his misdemeanours and then promptly, on the face of it, disappeared. What happened was, at this point, he was actually told in no uncertain terms that his old long-term backers at News Group were most put out by their embarrassing exposure in the previous years trial and they would, by hook or by crook, ‘get him’. Understandably (though in hindsight foolishly) Paul Gadd fled the UK to escape this. Never the wisest of men he headed for places where he thought he would be free of Murdochian influence and not ‘Public Enemy No.1’. He went to Cuba, but News Group associates caught up with him there and started to hound him. He went to Cambodia where he thought he’d be safe – they caught up with him there. From there on it was Vietnam, but he didn’t reckon on the tenacity of long-time News Group Freelancer Andrew Drummond and the deep pocket’s of Murdoch’s men bankrolling their revenge. However, the fool sought solace in countries where he wouldn’t be hung, drawn and quartered by the masses but where, as he found to his cost, crimes and convictions can be bought for a round of drinks. The justice system of Vietnam is extremely dubious, but it sealed the fate of Gary Glitter in securing a ‘real’ conviction of abuse and thus completing their mission. Here in the UK people see Gary Glitter as a monster, someone who rapes and molest young children – a convicted paedophile. He is seen in the same light as real monsters – the Ian Huntley’s and Roy Whiting – real child killing monsters. What good does this do when he isn’t? It serves to undermine the cause of child protection, not strengthen – to scaremonger needlessly. Why has this been done – to whitewash over the fact that, had it not been for the editors of Britain’s tabloid newspapers Gary Glitter’s arrest in 1997 would have been, at best, a few column inches. And yet, in 2009 Channel 4 screened an (awful) faux documentary “The Execution Of Gary Glitter” – instead of the makers of that focussing their attention on real child killers/rapists, a man who had served his time for the crimes he was convicted of and subsequently freed was again humiliated further.
They – the tabloids – made this man they now revile a “legend”. They in turn made him a “monster”. In truth he is neither, he is an elderly entertainer with a (very) chequered past. Most people in the entertainment business knew of his fondness for ‘jailbait’ when he was a bonafide pop star, it’s simply that it wasn’t an issue in the 70s or 80s, the attitude of the now moralising press was “Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink cor look at this Page 3 Girl she’s 16 today!” If we apply todays moral code to the 60s and 70s most – if not all – rock legends and entertainers would be guilty of ‘child abuse’ vis-a-vis inappropriate behaviour with (slightly) underage girls, it was a ‘perk of the job’ from Simon Dee and Jimmy Savile to Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, moist starstruck 15 years sat on Mr Entertainer’s lap to Mr Wild Rock Legend chalking up notches on their international bed posts. Was it right, was it wrong? Who’s to say? I know that the decision cannot be made for us though by an immoral tabloid steeped in corruption. To get to the stage when, on the strength of tabloid influence we see the BBC editing one old rock star out of history by re-editing documentaries and old editions Top Of The Pops is beyond ridiculous because there but for a malicious accusation go every other entertainer and musicians career and reputation. Why did the tabloids effectively sponsor his post-1976 career, what pact did he make with these people? Why him? Yes, he was a great showman with a time-honed stagecraft and musically he made a great impact in 1972/73 before his pantomime act took over the music quality – but he would have been nothing but a footnote in music history by the time of his arrest were it not for the agenda of the tabloid press for 20 years who awarded him more column inches and headlines than his talent befitted. If I sound like I am being overly critical of his subsequent musical efforts, I am not – for what he did inside 3 years is more than most dream of, and his subsequent success as a live performer speaks for itself.
All who choose to condemn Gary Glitter should ask themselves this: are they basing their condemnation on facts or on the agendas of people like Kelvin McKenzie, Paul McMullan, Rebecca Brooks and Rupert Murdoch. And did any of these tabloid hacks ever create a record as great as “Rock & Roll pts 1 & 2” or “Do You Wanna Touch Me”? Did they create one of the greatest ever Christmas singles? Have the critics and the hacks ever brought pleasure to people en masse as Glitter did with Mike Leander with those great singles, have they raised the roof with great live shows, did they influence the core of great UK pop stars from the punk & new wave era?
Those who choose, still, in the face of Leveson, in the face of the NOWT closure and in the face of the fact that, as a hunted man for 13 years, the best ‘abuse’ the Murdoch hacks could come up was a phony bought conviction in a country with no justice and very little morality, brand Gary Glitter as Public Enemy Number One are guilty not of ‘raising the profile of child protection’ but of reducing an important issue down to the level of a cartoon.
Anyone who thinks, in 2012, that Gary Glitter is a predatory threat to children – which would, incidentally, make them “wiser” than both UK Courts & Police – should simply not be allowed to be in charge of children themselves. Get real.