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Glitter tarnished by Vietnam child sex shame

Former ‘glam’ rocker’s fall from grace began in 1997
/ Source: Reuters

In the rollercoaster world of rock and roll, few have ridden as high and low as Gary Glitter.

As a live performer in the 1970s, he became an icon of his generation with his own brand of high-octane “glam rock” — big guitar coupled with even bigger hair, make-up and heels.

In his later years, however, Glitter made headlines for very different reasons.

Convicted of child pornography offenses in his native Britain in 1999, he was sentenced to four months in jail — minus the trademark bouffant wig he was forced to remove for a prison mugshot.

The disgrace torpedoed the career of the high-camp “Comeback Kid”, as he had been dubbed by British tabloids, and on his release from prison he asked reporters simply to leave him alone. “I have served my time,” he said.

Little did he know he was heading down the path to years behind bars in a third world prison.

On Friday, a Vietnamese court jailed the 61-year-old Glitter for three years for molesting two underage Vietnamese girls in Vung Tau, a seaside resort town near Ho Chi Minh City.

Tinsel, sparkle, glitter or vomit?Born Paul Francis Gadd in a small town in central England in 1944, Glitter struggled for acceptance right from the start.

An illegitimate child, he never met his father and was brought up by his young mother and grandmother before being taken into care at the age of 10.

His quest for fame started four years later when he cut his first record, but he failed to hit the big time until the early 1970s when he jumped on the emerging “glam rock” movement and made it his own.

After contemplating stage names including Terry Tinsel, Stanley Sparkle and Vicky Vomit, he adopted Gary Glitter — and set his sights on pop superstardom.

It came in the form of “Rock and Roll (Parts 1 & 2)”, a 15 minute heavy drum-beat chant that made it to No. 2 in Britain in 1972 and crossed the Atlantic to hit the top 10 in the United States.

Over the next year, Glitter pumped out a string of hits, including “I Love You Love Me Love”, “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” and “I’m the Leader of Gang.”

Fall from graceA household name in much of the English-speaking world who sold more than 18 million records, Glitter nevertheless lost his sparkle in the late-1970s with the advent of punk rock.

Financial and family problems ensued — he divorced Ann, his wife of nine years with whom he had two children — as he fought a personal battle with drink and drugs.

He was admitted to hospital in 1986 after an overdose of sleeping pills and narrowly avoided jail for three drink-driving offenses.

With occasional hit singles such as “Dance Me Up” and “Another Rock and Roll Christmas”, as well as the pantomime circuit, television appearances and his conversion to Buddhism, he managed to keep the Glitter legend alive.

But all the time, he was creeping closer to his downfall.

His life and career finally fell apart in 1997 when a computer repair shop in Britain alerted police to dozens of images of child pornography on the hard drive of his PC.

Axed from 'Spice World'Radio stations refused to play his songs, his parents changed their name and his cameo appearance in Spice Girls movie “Spice World” was axed.

After serving two months of his sentence, he appealed to the media to respect his privacy before disappearing first to Cuba and then Cambodia, a deeply impoverished country with a reputation as a haven for pedophiles and perverts.

Twice hounded out by child rights campaigners, he headed to neighboring Vietnam and settled down in a beachfront villa in Vung Tau, a resort town which drew U.S. soldiers in search of sun, sea, sand and sex during the Vietnam War.

According to local papers, he learned some Vietnamese and the only complaints his neighbors had were about his late night singing.

“He was very polite and used to say hello every morning when he went out to do his exercise on the waterfront,” said Le Thi Muoi, a toothless old woman who lived next door.

But his relationship with several young girls landed him in hot water with police in a Communist country keen to present itself as a wholesome, family-oriented tourist destination.

Glitter was adamant that he was teaching English to the girls — one of whom was 13 at the time, the other younger.

Not for the first time, nobody wanted to listen.