The Glitter Band (originally – though briefly – called The Glittermen) were formed by producer Mike Leander in 1972 as backing and session musicians for Gary Glitter. Several of the band had played with Glitter in The Boston Showband (also known as The Bostons) during the 1960s when he was still known as Paul Raven.
The band provided the backing music for Gary’s chartbusters and the unique, powerful, and gutsy big beat for his concerts around the world, and eventually began recording Top 20 singles of their own, including Angel Face (March 1974), Let’s Get Together Again (October 1974), Goodbye My Love (January 1975), The Tears I Cried (April 1975) and People Like You (February 1976).
Unfortunately, in their efforts to avoid the shadow of Gary Glitter the band hopped around stylistically too much to establish an identity and John Rossall left the group in 1975.
The Glitter Band tried to adjust, but no subsequent single would make the chart – Don’t Make Promises came closest in mid-1976, while a label switch to CBS and no less than two name changes (plus a reversion to their first) also failed to make a dent.
First came The G Band, and a new LP, Paris Match. A return to The Glitter Band name brought the EP She Was Alright in June 1977 before finally, Gotta Get A Message Back To You was released under the name Air Traffic Control in late 1977.
The Glitter Band never officially broke up. Rather, they drifted apart, but they kept in touch and would periodically resurface. 1979 saw Shephard, Phipps and ex-Sparks keyboard player Peter Oxendale combine as Oxendale and Shephard for the LP Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.
The Glitter Band reconvened the following year for live work and a couple of 45s.
Eventually, there were three versions of The Glitter Band touring: The official version featuring Pete Phipps and John Springate, a version featuring John Rossall and Harvey Ellison, and one featuring Gerry Shephard and Tony Leonard.
Legal action halted Rossall’s activities (he and Ellison went on to perform as “The Glitter Band featuring John Rossall”) while Leonard’s unit retired following Gerry Shephard’s death on 6 May 2003. Sax player Harvey Ellison died of bowel cancer in 2017. He was 65.
Tony Leonard (Anthony Woolnough)