On tonight’s show we chat with Guy Blackman about probably the most iconic Gay Liberation rock star, Tom Robinson. Tobias Manderson-Galvin, Artistic Director of Dogmeat, will come in to talk about this play about the commodification of poverty. And Jeffree Star hops off a plane from the US to join us in the studio. All that, and we’ll be playing some music from the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Sam Sparrow, Benefit, Pavement and Kate Bush. Tonight at 7pm on Joy94.9. www.joy.org.au/listenlive
For this week’s Guy’s Gay Music History Corner, we look back at Tom Robinson. He is most famous for his song ‘Glad to be Gay‘, which holds the place as probably the most famous gay anthem ever written. But did you know that before this, he released a song called ‘Good to be Gay‘?
At the age of 13, Robinson realized that he was a homosexual when he fell in love with another boy at school. At that time, male homosexual activity was still a crime in England, punishable by prison. Wracked with shame and self-hatred, he had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide at 16. A head teacher got him transferred to Finchden Manor, a therapeutic community for disturbed teenagers, where he would spend his following six years. At Finchden Manor, Robinson was inspired by John Peel’s The Perfumed Garden on pirate Radio London, and by a visit from Alexis Korner. The legendary bluesman and broadcaster transfixed a roomful of people with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar. The whole direction of Robinson’s life and career became suddenly clear to him.
In 1973, Robinson moved to London and joined the acoustic trio Café Society. They impressed Ray Davies of The Kinks enough for him to produce their debut album, though it sold only 600 copies. The working relationship with Davies supposedly ended when, infuriated by Davies’ lack of punctuality, Robinson sarcastically performed The Kinks’ hit “Tired of Waiting for You” to him when he finally arrived at the studio. Davies retaliated with the less-than-complimentary Kinks single “Prince of the Punks”, about Robinson. In London, Robinson became involved in the emerging gay scene and embraced the politics of gay liberation, which linked gay rights to the wider issues of social justice.
Inspired by an early Sex Pistols gig, he left Café Society in 1976, and founded the more political Tom Robinson Band.
The following year the group released the single “2-4-6-8 Motorway”, which peaked at #5 in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks. The song alludes obliquely to a gay truck driver. In February 1978, the band released the live extended play Rising Free,
which peaked at #18 in the UK Singles Chart and spawned the hit “Glad to Be Gay”, originally written for a 1976 London gay pride parade. The song was banned by the BBC Radio 1.
In May 1978, the band released its debut album, Power in the Darkness, which was very well received, peaking at #4 in the UK Albums Chart, and receiving a gold certification by the BPI. Their second album, TRB Two, however, was a commercial and critical failure, and the band broke up four months after its release. [Source: Wikipedia]
Tobias Manderson-Galvin is the Artistic Director of Dogmeat, an ‘indie theatre show about the commodification of poverty’. Dogmeat is the true story of a boy who spends his days chained to a lamp post. Straight out of the newspaper pages of slum town Shanghai comes this urgent attack on humanity. The idea for the performance apparently came from watching too much Oprah and then some really awful commercial news broadcasting.
And coming into the studio to chat is Jeffree Star, the multi-talented make up artist/designer/model/ musician. He’s touring Australia in support of his album Beauty Killer, which features ‘cupcake pop and razor sharp guitars’.
The self proclaimed “Head of the Makeup Mafia” and “Queen Bitch Supreme Among Internet Royalty” started his music career when he put some beats behind his ‘mouthy opinions and cyanide laced wit’. Star began writing “really crazy lyrics” to rap beats, in homage to his obsession with hip-hop which led to a chance encounter with Peaches drummer Samantha Maloney, who produced his first solo tracks in 2006.
Since his first EP and single releases, Jeffree has become a bit of a darling of MySpace . But the wonder of Jeffree Star doesn’t stop there; his live shows are as bold and as shocking as the man himself.
Every live show is an experiment; recently Star has had the idea of “having the fans hold up a giant mirror in the audience so I can watch myself perform”.Jeffree Star plays in Melbourne this Friday, 17 September at Billboard. You can get tickets and download one of his songs here.
Songs we play:
- Kate Bush – Breathing
- Dinosaur Jr – The Lung
- The Lemonheads – Hospital
- Pavement – Stop Breathing (which also doubles as a tennis themed song!)
- Sam Sparrow – Sick
- Benefit – So Sick
- Sonic Youth – Touch me I’m Sick
- Hilltop Hoods – Breathe
- Berlin – Take My Breath Away