Glam rock (also known as glitter rock) is a style of rock and pop music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter. The flamboyant costumes and visual styles of glam performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been connected with new views of gender roles.
Glam rock visuals peaked during the mid 1970s with artists including T. Rex, David Bowie, Sweet, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter in the UK and New York Dolls, Lou Reed and Jobriath in the US. It declined after 1976, but had a major influence on genres including punk, glam metal, New Romantics and gothic rock and has sporadically revived since the 1990s.
Glam rock emerged out of the English psychedelic and art rock scenes of the late 1960s and can be seen as both an extension of, and reaction against, those trends. Its origins are associated with Marc Bolan, who had renamed his folk duo T. Rex and taken up electric instruments by the end of the 1960s. Often cited as the moment of inception is his appearance on the UK TV programme Top of the Pops in March 1971 wearing glitter and satins, to perform what would be his second UK Top 10 hit (and first UK Number 1 hit), "Hot Love". From late 1971, already a minor star, David Bowie developed his Ziggy Stardust persona, incorporating elements of professional make up, mime and performance into his act. Bowie in a 1972 interview while noting that other artists described as glam rock were doing different work said "I think glam rock is a lovely way to categorize me and it's even nicer to be one of the leaders of it". These performers were soon followed in the style by acts including Roxy Music, Sweet, Slade, Mott the Hoople, Mud and Alvin Stardust. While highly successful in the single charts in the UK, very few of these musicians were able to make a serious impact in the United States; Bowie was the major exception becoming an international superstar and prompting the adoption of glam styles among acts like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls and Jobriath, often known as "glitter rock" and with a darker lyrical content than their British counterparts.
In the UK the term glitter rock was most often used to refer to the extreme version of glam pursued by Gary Glitter and his support musicians the Glitter Band, who between them achieved eighteen top ten singles in the UK between 1972 and 1976. A second wave of glam rock acts, including Suzi Quatro, Roy Wood's Wizzard and Sparks, dominated the British single charts from about 1974 to 1976. Quatro directly inspired the pioneering Los Angeles based all-girl group The Runaways. Existing acts, some not usually considered central to the genre, also adopted glam styles, including Rod Stewart, Elton John, Queen and, for a time, the Rolling Stones. Punk rock, often seen as a reaction to the artifice of glam rock, but using some elements of the genre including makeup and involving covers versions of glam rock records, helped end the fashion for glam from about 1976.