© 2022 Zack Kopp
I saw a meme on Facebook this morning of a guy turned to watch a girl’s ass walking off and the woman beside him multiplied in every space, all faces taking note of his wandering attention with frowning eyes and wounded mouths in their multiplicity. OBSERVED QUANTUM STATE, reads the girl with the targeted ass, OBSERVER, reads the tempted male, and EVERY OTHER POSSIBLE QUANTUM STATE read the multiple spurned. The word “quantum” means partial, and the reason something partial is so powerful is that reality is fluid, and nothing is ever in fixed, final form. Those manifold striated quantum states prove things are always flowing in unlimited directions. Which shows how too much fixation is blinding. How one journey leads to more journeys. And how a single phrase dropped by the right one at the right trigger point can determine years of experience, which I’ll get to. This is all to say that while I’ve longy outgrown the form, my ever-changing musical taste had a crucial dalliance with glam rock in my formative years, and it persists as an important archetype in my mental landscape.
I was working at a place called Red Hot Records when I was in middle school in Denver and my friend and co-worker Paul introduced me to Motley Crue. There was a whole new leaner, faster feeling to this kind of music than I’d gotten from my favorite band at the time, the Beatles, or the new wave bands I’d heard so far, and It wasn’t hard to like. The lyrics were leaner and faster and more driving, too, all about wild nights and live wires. Motley Crue was the root of the next two or three things to emerge, after which, the chain continued. Paul got into Hanoi Rocks after their drummer Razzle was killed in a drunk driving accident allegedly perpetrated by Crue singer Vince Neil in L.A. Hanoi had a less regimented, more interesting motif than Motley Crue, in my opinion, with the same purposely androgynous glittering bleached high-heeled look. Their singer, Michael Monroe, played saxophone between singing lyrics in a sloppy baritone. I liked that band a lot. Founder and main lyricist Andy McCoy had previously played guitar in a Finnish punk band called Pelle Miljoona Oy (the juggler of millions). At the time, I regarded this as McCoy’s dalliance with a more primitive form before coming into his own with the glam-metal-or-is-it-punk master squad of Hanoi Rocks, with classics like “Motorvatin’”, “Maibu Beach Nightmare”, “Dead by Christmas” and “Lost in the City.”
Glam was the epitome of flashy self-presentation of high-heels and eyeshadow and tall hair and platform boots and breastplates and capes and Kabuki makeup and extravagant glitzy style and expression. Almost any popular entertainer you can think of went through a “glam” phase in the seventies, from KISS to Cher to the Bay City Rollers, some also went through a disco phase. Probably the most direct antecedent to Hanoi Rocks in terms of sound and style is the New York Dolls, often compared to the Rolling Stones, a group of men who played blues dressed as prostitutes, whose singer, David Johansen, has persisted as an entertainer to this day, the most recent iteration of his daimon being an ongoing project known as the Mansion of Fun. The adjective “glam” was taken possession of in the United States by hard rock and heavy metal acts and carried into the eighties as “glam metal.” Even in this subgenre, there were a lot of representative bands of wildly varying styles and levels of appreciation by me. I like the band Girl more than Twisted Sister, but they’re not nearly as glam, compared to Dee Snider’s wig and makeup down to the beauty mark. Standard heavy metal dress for adolescents then was denim jackets and collar length to long hair, I added a pair of Beatle-boots I’d found somewhere, and used a lot of ozone-destroying hairspray and occasionally wore eyeliner self-consciously. In those days, there was a video show on public TV every Sunday called Teletunes mostly favoring new wave and alternative flavored fare that would occasionally feature a song by Lords of the New Church or Tex and the Horseheads, more bands with punk antecedents (Lords’ Stiv bators was in the Dead Boys) or forms of punk themselves, but not dissimilar sensibilities to Hanoi Rocks in my preteen discernment, even though not glam or metal. Around this time, I realized the genres assigned to pop music were purely advertising, and always had been. Another band I heard at the time called Sisters of Mercy who looked like they’d be metal didn’t sound like anyone else I knew, really, had a sort of dirge-y pop feel, and I remember calling them “post-punk” (like I knew what that meant at 14) but who knows where they should have been placed in the files of the day?
At Red Hot Records I found “Drive On” by a band called Mott made up of all of Mott the Hoople’s members save lead singer Ian Hunter (the Hoople). Mott’s lead singer, Nigel Benjamin, had been the singer in a band called London also featuring Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue’s founder and bassist. That album was great, with classics like “Broadside Outcasts”, “Too Short Arms (I Don’t Care)” and the country-flavored “See You Again”. Mott has another equally excellent album called “Drive On” with a blockbuster track called “Monte Carlo” and more, but we won’t stop there. Red Hot Records closed, and we started hanging out at another record store called Stop Look and Listen, whose proprietors were two heavy metal guys named Todd and Ken. Todd gave guitar lessons and Ken sang lead vocals in a band called TUXX inspired by one of his favorite bands, Kiss (the same name has since been popularized by a completely different band). Ken wrote for a local music rag, and introduced us to more glam bands, from Alice Cooper to Thin Lizzy to talk about androgyny T. Rex and David Bowie to KISS’s pure-white synthesizer featuring opposite numbers, Angel, to a whole other side of glam with Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic” to Rockford, Illinois’s Cheap Trick, never glam but always theatrical, from Rick Nielsen’s baseball hats and double-necked guitars to Bun E. Carlos’s mustache and perpetual shades. It was a crash course in popular shit from the seventies. One summer night, there was a TUXX concert at DU, and the band held the audience spellbound as Ken sang their classic, “Champagne on Holidays (and lonely weekends, too)”. Paul and I went along with our friend later to become a Denver lawyer. Paul found out about a spinoff band featuring Andy McCoy and (another Hanoi Rocks member) Nasty Suicide called The Suicide Twins, and purchased a copy of their only album, Silver Missiles and Nightingales, with the songs “Heaven Made You” and the title track and more.
After The Suicide Twins came the Cherry Bombz, another Hanoi Rocks spin-off featuring McCoy, Suicide, former Clash drummer Terry Chimes, Lords of the New Church’s Dave Tregunna on bass, and vocalist Anita Chellemah, with their EP, House of Ecstasy. The Cherry Bombz played a show at the now defunct Rainbow Music Hall at Evans and Monaco in Denver, where we’d seen Cheap Trick’s appearance supporting their Standing On The Edge LP. Denver punk band The Fluid was opening act for the Cherry Bombz. It felt great to be on the cutting edge, young and full of dreams, with this whole new world opening up, there dancing on my feet among those shaking, sweating bodies. After the show, Paul and I walked around the back of the building to see what was up and Andy McCoy was standing out there smoking a cigarette, who’d modeled himself on Johnny Thunders from hair and guitar style to heroin habit. Great show, we told him, and whatever else we stupidly said as kids not knowing what to say.
“You ever listen to that punk rock?” McCoy asked us, at the end of this unremarkable encounter. “You should hear the Sex Pistols.” After that I started paying attention to another quantum state. Never Mind the Bollocks was a game-changer, with tracks like “Holidays in the Sun” and “God Save the Queen”. Talk about leaner and faster. Honey Badger didn’t give a fuck. I’d started hanging around with the other metal heads in one smoking section, wearing a denim jacket like everyone else always did. After hearing that Sex Pistols album, I knew there were better things in the other smoking section, the one controlled by the punks and preps and International baccalaureate students and theater kids. One night I used a disposable plastic razor to give myself my first mohawk, cut a hole in the back of my jean jacket and spray painted the surrounding area dark red, and wrote THE SEX PISTOLS in black magic marker above it as if to say that band had inspired the realization he was constantly being stabbed in the back by the system, but in fact this was only a coincidence. In the morning I made my first genre crossover, from glam metal to punk, in the form of relocation to a different smoking section on the other side of the courtyard, from whence I have proceeded to my present space junk post-anti-folk. I’m never sure what’s coming next.