5. Zolar X
Before punk and metal were popular, long before elaborate stage shows were the norm on the sunset strip, Zolar X were performing their own version of proto-punk/glam/art rock to increasingly bewildered audiences. It wasn’t just that they dressed as aliens and spoke their own invented language onstage, but they did it offstage as well! Lead singer Zory Zenith is in jail for a particularly ugly domestic dispute, but the band still tours with original guitarist Ygar Yggrist. Alternative Tentacles put out a well thought out collection of their early work a few years ago, proving even Jello Biafra appreciated their outer-space vibe.
4. Judge Dread
Not to be confused with the comic book character, Judge Dread, a portly ex-bar bouncer form England was the number two selling reggae singer in England during the seventies (a close second to Bob Marley). While Dread was actually more ska/mixed with English dance hall bawdy humor (guess what the song “Big Nine” was about?), Dread was actually an accomplished toaster back when that counted in reggae. While some of his stuff comes off silly now, most of it wouldn’t be out of place on British TV to this day. Think “Benny Hill” meets Peter Tosh. Sadly, the heavyset Dread died of a heart attack on stage (a story goes that his ambulance broke down, and when his skinheads fans tried to push it, they wee dispersed by police who thought they were rioting) but his collected Trojan singles are still essential for any reggae fan.
3. Klaus Nomi
Klaus was either from Germany, or possibly Mars, no one really knew for sure. He is best known as a stylistically fascinating example of early new wave, but in reality this opera trained singer, (bad haircut aside) had one of he most fascinating vocal ranges in modern rock putting even Freddie Mercury to shame. He was an early aids causality, and considered too strange during his time to make an impact but had he lived he might be as fondly regarded by nostalgia buffs as Queen is today.
2. Be-Bop Deluxe
And speaking of early glam, Be-Bop Deluxe was the brainchild of guitar hero Bill Nelson. Although the band never had a stable line-up an were often taken as some kind of glam parody (they did have a song called “Jet Silver and the Dolls from Venus”) they were actually an insanely amazing mixture of early Crimson style prog rock mixed with early Bowie. Nelson eventually turned to ambient music, but on early records like Axe Victim demonstrates that he was the lost guitar hero of the seventies.
Jobriath was essentially an over-hyped and notorious failure. He was designed to be a record company version of Bowie and as a bonus; he was openly gay in the early seventies when that was essentially career suicide. (Even Sir Elton said he was “bi” back then.) But Jobriath was actually far more than the American Bowie; he wrote insanely catchy blends of early glam and cabaret songs that highlighted his amazing rage. After two records flopped he was dropped by the record company and faded into obscurity, dying of aids at the Chelsea hotel in 1983. For anyone that loves early Bowie, Be-Bop Deluxe glam or Magnetic Fields, Jobriath is a must have. Pick up the compilation Lonely Planet Boy, or his recently re-issued two records.
— Brian Cogan