Gerry Shephard

Glitter Band guitarist and songwriter

Thursday 29 May 2003 00:00

Gerald Edward Shephard, guitarist, singer and songwriter: born London 28 December 1951; married; died Chesham, Buckinghamshire 6 May 2003.

Part of the glam-rock explosion of the Seventies which put the bop in teenybopper and included T-Rex, Slade and the Sweet, the Glitter Band backed the singer Gary Glitter. With his star-shaped guitar, Gerry Shephard was one of the focal points of the band, alongside the bassist John Springate, the two drum kits pounded by Pete Phipps and Tony Leonard and the two saxophones blown by John Rossall and Harvey Ellison. The Glitter Band also scored Top Ten singles with Shephard compositions like "Angel Face" and "Goodbye My Love".

Born in London in 1951, Shephard grew up determined to become a professional musician. He played guitar in various groups before joining the Boston International Showband, a tight outfit performing the hits of the day, often with Paul Raven (né Gadd) on vocals.

Well-drilled by their saxophonist, trombonist and musical director John Rossall, the Bostons proved a natural fit when the producer Mike Leander needed a dynamic backing band to help Raven, who had reinvented himself as Gary Glitter, perform "Rock'n'Roll Part 1" on Top of the Pops in 1972. Originally known as the Glittermen but soon renamed the Glitter Band, the sextet wore kitsch, lamé outfits to match those worn by Gary Glitter. They also performed leg-steps, high kicks and dance routines inspired by the Shadows, which added to their visual impact in those more innocent times.

Leander had played most of the instruments in the studio on "Rock'n'Roll Part 1" but began using the Glitter Band on subsequent singles like "I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll)", "Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah!)", "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am!)" and "I Love You Love Me Love".

By 1974, the Gary Glitter brand was so well established that Leander listened eagerly when Rossall suggested that the Glitter Band could have hits in their own right. To "Angel Face", a song co-written by Rossall and Shephard, Leander added a stomping backbeat and a driving bassline and, in March 1974, the Glitter Band were chasing "Remember Me This Way" by their boss up the charts.

"Just For You" and "Let's Get Together Again" continued the winning formula of percussion and handclaps and also made the Top Ten, but the more dramatic "Goodbye My Love" performed even better, reaching No 2 in 1975. Following Rossall's departure, Shephard co-wrote most of the Glitter Band's hits, like "Love in the Sun" and the sugary "People Like You and People Like Me", with John Springate. He penned the soft-rock ballad "The Tears I Cried" on his own.

The Glitter Band also charted with the albums Hey!, Rock'n'Roll Dudes and Listen to the Band and, in 1975, appeared in the glam-exploitation film Never Too Young to Rock, starring Freddie Jones, Peter Noone and Sally James.

However, by 1976 the writing was on the wall for glam-rock and, following a farewell tour with Gary, the Glitter Band renamed themselves the G-Band. Despite a fine cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", their album Paris Match floundered in the wake of punk rock and they split. Shephard worked with Peter Oxendale before reforming the Glitter Band for tours with Gary Glitter in 1981 and 1997; various incarnations of the group are still performing.

In 2000, Shephard co-wrote "Don't Play That Song Again", the British entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, which came 16th.

Pierre Perrone

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