Rock and Roll
Writer(s): Gary Glitter, Mike Leander (see lyrics here)
Released: March 3, 1972
First Charted: June 10, 1972
Peak: 7 US, 3 CB, 6 HR, 3 CL, 2 UK, 3 CN, 11 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 119.87 video, 90.31 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Paul Gadd was born in 1944 in England. He “leapt on every passing bandwagon during the 1960s before finally finding a place for his over-the-top showmanship as Brtiish glam-rock icon Gary Glitter.” TB The genre was “characterized by male lead singers dressed in outrageous, usually feminine clothes singing anthemic songs with massive drums.” SF Glitter was known more for his outrageous appearance and wild stage shows than the actual music – which he himself said he wasn’t very good at. SF
However, in 1971 he teamed up with producer Mike Leander and “created a 15-minute stomp-and-shout piece of nonsense, edited down to a two-part single as ‘Rock and Roll (Parts 1 & 2).’” TB Songfacts.com called it“the greatest example of ‘glam rock.’” SF Author Dave Thompson called it “the tribal war cry of the 20th century.” DT
It’s actually the second half of the song which has become best known. The lesser-known first part is a vocal track which offers a reflection of the history of rock and roll. However, with its rousing and repetitive chants of “hey,” the second part has become an arena-rattling anthem widely used by professional sports teams during games. It was first used in 1974 for the high-minor International Hockey League team the Kalamazoo Wings. Kevin O’Brien, the team’s public relations and marketing director, later used it with the NHL’s Colorado Rockies, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, and the NFL’s Denver Broncos.
The use of Glitter’s music became controversial after he was convicted in England in 1999 of downloading child pornography. After serving two months in prison, he moved to Cuba, Cambodia, and then Vietnam – where he was sentenced to prison again in 2006 for sexually assaulting minors. SF He was sent back to England after his release in 2008 and arrested in 2012 for a number of sexual assault charges of young girls in the 1970s and ‘80s. He was given a 16-year sentence for the offenses in 2015. SF The NFL asked teams to stop playing the song after the second conviction was held up in court. WK
The song gained attention again when the second part was used in Todd Phillips’ 2019 movie Joker. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, the title character dances down a staircase with the song playing. Use of the song generated controversy when people suspected Glitter was profiting. However, he had sold the U.S. rights, meaning he didn’t receive any money for the use of the song in the movie. WK
First posted 7/23/2022; last updated 3/30/2023.