Lecturer Gill Rennie talks Glam Rock, glitter and musical medicine

For Journalism lecturer, Gillian Rennie, bands like ‘Slade’ and ‘T-Rex’ pulled her into Glam Rock, also known as glitter rock. It was a style of music developed in the United Kingdom in the 1970s that Rennie grew up listening to.

Glam Rockers wore flamboyant costumes, outrageous makeup and platform shoes all decorated in distinctive glitter. Rennie explains her attraction to Glam Rock, “Definitely not the hairstyles, but instead the androgyny, the glitter and the noise”.

Kicking off in the UK, Glam Rock was overtaken by British bands, which Rennie says she mainly listened to: “It was the enculturation. I was mentally and physically still part of a colony, and that was where my headspace still was.”

It was the whole era which changed Gillian’s view on life, no one song in particular, but she makes reference to Mama Weer All Crazee Now by Slade, released in 1972, stating:

“Everyone is still crazy. Nothing much has changed!”

Glitter was an important element during the Glam Rock era. So much so that it became a large part of her life, “Although I don’t wear it, I have given to appreciate it in life. I do force it on my niece and nephew though, who take it well”.  Rennie tells a story of when she worked in Los Angeles and visited the Getty Museum:

Gill Rennie, Rhodes University Journalism Lecturer. Image: Bronwyn Pretorius

“I saw a poster saying ‘I eat glitter for breakfast, lunch and dinner’ and I thought this is the meaning of life.”

For Rennie the lessons that Glam Rock music taught was more significant than the fashion. British teen magazine Jackie played a large role in this education.  “It was all very vicarious and through printed picture posters in Jackie.  We didn’t have TV or Youtube then,” says Rennie.

Jackie was an iconic magazine which played a large role in many teenagers’ lives in terms of all things Glam Rock. Rennie explains her devoted anticipation for the publication, “I had an annual subscription which came every Tuesday.  I put up all the centre folds in my room; I had David Cassidy, Mark Bolan and Jimmy Hendricks. Basically all the men that looked like girls!”

Rennie explains that her musical taste has expanded since her Glam Rock days. She shares her profound appreciation for music in her life, “It all depends on my mood and my need.  Music is medicine, and it is my way of self-mediating.”


Words by Elle Williams


Header image by Lauren Buckle

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