Looking Back on the 1970s Glitter/Glam Rock Scene in Detroit

By: Steve Kostan

When MOTT the HOOPLE bassist Overend Watts died last week, it brought back memories of that early 70’s Glitter/Glam rock scene and it’s impact here in Detroit.  Detroit was early on this stuff and it was much bigger than elsewhere.  DAVID BOWIE, in my interview with him that’s on Soundcloud, said Detroit, Cleveland, and Philly were his early big 3 cities. There was a wave of similar bands.  T-REX, MOTT the HOOPLE, ROXY MUSIC, SLADE etc.  Thanks mostly to WABX, Detroit was all in. We were the TV generation and with our bands like ALICE COOPER, TED, MC5, and IGGY, we were used to the wild visual. In fact, we kind of demanded it. Remember our rock bands were exposed to that aspect of great showmanship, combined with great beat, energy and pulse, from Motown acts.  Give us the Show baby!  I paid my money take me away!  When you strip away the costumes and visuals, The Glam rock bands were Rock & Roll all the way. The STONES had pointed the way and these bands took it to the next level. Granted that’s a broad statement but you get it. MOTT the HOOPLE had several songs that could have been post Exile on Main Street out takes, done with a heavier hand. Great stuff.

Fashion was key element in that scene but if you think about it, it usually is with each “next big thing.”  From our parents freaking out over the BEATLES, to all the looks that followed, each next thing was accompanied by a look. Woodstock hippie, Glam, Skinny Tie wave and others.  Hair, clothes, attitude etc. You could see it just looking around at the crowd. That aspect has not been around for the past several years though. The fading began with Kurt Cobain but if you think about it, the “NO look” look, is in itself a look. Seriously todays fragmentation of taste is currently out there but the ages of the audience has been been wider.

There were a ton of great Glam rock band shows in the early 70’s in Detroit. T-REX wsg. CHEECH & CHONG @ U of D, BOWIE @ Fisher and Masonic, ALICE-COBO, ROXY and MOTT @ Ford Auditorium and more. I know many of you were on that “ride” because I saw you there. Let’s hear some of YOUR memories.

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