American Glam part 2
Jobriath was the stage name of Bruce Wayne Campbell an American glam rock singer from 1973 to 1974. He is credited as being the first mass-marketed pop star, and the first to be openly gay. Even today with his music championed by people such as Morrissey, he is still a largely forgotten figure on the musical landscape.
Jobriath's first, self-titled album was well-publicized at the time, but sold poorly. With its Broadway-style vocal flamboyance and thinly veiled lyrical references to homosexual love, male prostitution and sadomasochism, the songs were wrapped in huge arrangements with overwrought orchestral interludes and a bevy of female backup singers.
Oddities like "Morning Star Ship" shared vinyl with emotive piano ballads like "Inside" and bizarre, songs like "What a Pretty."
The first album was quickly followed by the second “Creatures of the Street”. Although his two LPs sound amazing even today, he was inevitably viewed as a Bowie copyist by the music press, who cruelly dismissed the artist. The public, who had been initially interested in the hype surrounding Jobriath soon unleashed a backlash of ridicule and indifference.
And so his LPs, treasured by many collectors as forgotten gems of the original glam era, went out of print for thirty years, with Elektra seemingly uninterested in reissuing them on CD.
In later years Jobriath sought to distance himself from his previous solo career, taking a new name, Cole Berlin, and adopting a new style - cabaret. He played out the rest of his life in local cabarets, clubs and parties. By the time the contract was up, Jobriath was dying of AIDS, which eventually took his life on August 3rd 1983. He was 37 years old, and his passing went largely unnoticed and unsung.
The following is taken from an article by Rob Cochrane that appeared in the November 1998 issue of Mojo Magazine.
“Glam rock was a movie in search of a soundtrack. Today, Velvet Goldmine is that movie, but 25 years ago the publicity machine roared into action to kick-start the strange yet true story of Jobriath.
In late '73 you couldn't open a music magazine without seeing rock impresario Jerry Brandt barking up the qualities of what he claimed would be the year's hottest new star. With Bowie busting out all over Britain and even stirring a sensation Stateside, the flamboyantly theatrical and shockingly un-closeted Jobriath would surely clean up in the biggest rock market in the world.
Eddie Kramer, producer of Jobriath's eponymous debut solo album, was famed for his work with Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. He remembers Jobriath as "a romantic soul, really. He wanted orchestrations like old film music, though he knew nothing about scoring. So he bought a book on orchestration and within a week he'd come up with scores of a haunting quality. These were recorded in Olympic Studios in London with a nine-foot grand piano and a 55-piece orchestra.
On the album's release in October '73, a media blitz ensued. Full-page ads were placed in Vogue, Penthouse, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, all reproducing the sleeve image of Jobriath as a discreetly nude statue creeping on smashed legs. The image dominated Times Square on a 41ft by 47ft billboard over the festive period and was also plastered across 250 New York buses.
A mere six months after the release of the debut came Creatures Of The Street, a rapid follow-up by any standards. "Some of the music is very haunting. If Jobriath had come out, excuse the pun, let's say during The Village People's success in the late '70s, he could have very well become a major star. "Timing is everything."