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Bruce Wayne Campbell
(1946 - 1983) U.S.A.

Bruce Wayne Campbell



Bruce Wayne Campbell (aka Jobriath Salisbury, Jobriath Boone, Cole Berlin) was the first and only openly gay rock performer of the Glam rock era.

By the end of the sixties, when he starred in the 'tribal love-rock' musical Hair he'd adopted the Jobriath psudonym. After this musical, he went on to join a band called "Pidgeon", singing and playing keyboards on their sole album (which was not a success), before descending into the gutter, as he later said.

His break came when he submitted a demo tape to Clive Davis, president of Columbia Records. Davis hated it, but it was heard at the same time by Jerry Brandt, a Nightclub impresario who was impressed enough to sign Jobriath up to a management deal, and secured him a record deal with Elektra. His debut album was launched in October 1973. But in just over a year from that, he had been uncerimoniously dumped by both label and manager.

Bruce Wayne CampbellJobriath was actually a rather interesting figure. He was one of the few American glam rockers, along with the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper. He was also the first pop musician to be openly gay - if you discount Bowie's since-retracted bisexual confessions. At the time, he was lambasted for being a Bowie clone, and while it can't be denied that Bowie was a huge influence, Jobraith took it a bit further in the provocative stakes. Jobriath's first single was an audacious S+M anthem titled Take me, I'm Yours.

A Second LP was released in 1974, titled Creatures of the Street. The single from this was another gay-themed track, which opens with the phrase "He makes the worst boy, but the best girl!" It seems to be about resentment in the gay community, between "glamour trash, sashaying round the town", and what we'd now called straight acting types, who "never dance, and [their] face don't move around". As a piece of gay history, it's fascinating, and as a song it's pretty good too.

Jobriath was a remarkable personality, but his upfront approach to his sexuality was never going to be swallowed by the American public en masse. After all, they could barely cope with Bowie at the time. As one of his ex-backing band pointed out in an interview, "We were booed off the stage at the Nassau Coliseum for 'being faggots' - and that's New York!"

Jobriath eventually moved into Cabaret Work (as Cole Berlin), performing thities style numbers, a couple of which had appeared on his Albums. Living on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel in New York, he was sadly an early victim of AIDS, passing away in July 1983. Perhaps understandably due to the prevailing culture at the time, he was never a success in his lifetime; but his music still stands as some of the most audacious and openly gay work aimed at a mass audience.


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