Gary Glitter's 1972 hit "Rock and Roll, Part 2," also known as "The Hey Song," was once a fixture at football games and other public events in American life. In 2006, however, Vietnamese authorities convicted Glitter of sexual abuse against two girls ages 10 and 11, jailing him for 26 months. That was after the U.K., in 1999, convicted Glitter on charges of possessing child pornography. Since then, Glitter has been a persona non grata, and the NFL reportedly banned the use of "Rock and Roll, Part 2" at this year's Super Bowl, depriving Glitter of a potentially huge payout in royalties.
Democratic National Convention organizers must've made a bit of a snafu last night, because "Rock and Roll, Part 2" could be heard blaring over the loudspeakers as former employees of companies controlled by Bain Capital took the podium (see the video evidence here and here). When Randy Johnson, a former factory worker whose company closed on Bain's watch, accused Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of "making money without a moral compass," the Dems presumably did not want to be seen as supporting a convicted sex offender. That, after all, is not change we can believe in.
Spokespeople for the Democratic convention and copyright organization ASCAP did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and a copyright lawyer named in ASCAP's guidelines for political campaign music declined to comment. Still, the guidelines appear to suggest that Glitter would eventually be compensated for the use of his recording at last night's convention, on an evening that will probably be better remembered for stem-winders by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and former President Bill Clinton. The BBC came under fire earlier this year after airing a rerun of Glitter's 1977 performance on Top of the Pops, a broadcast that the Daily Mail reported would earn Glitter thousands of dollars in royalties.
The Dems' own goal is even more embarrassing considering the party's huge advantage over Republicans when it comes to musical supporters. Foo Fighters and American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez are among the acts performing on President Barack Obama's behalf this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, and artists such as Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, and Fleetwood Mac aren't likely to complain about the use of their recordings during the convention. Meanwhile, at last week's Republican convention, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan suggested his iPod somehow drops the "Led" from "Zeppelin," and bands he says he likes — from Rage Against the Machine to Twisted Sister — have lambasted his politics.
Now, classic rock may well be the new elevator music. And Glitter obviously isn't the only pop star dogged by allegations of sexual improprieties. But a convicted pedophile is a convicted pedophile. That much both parties can probably agree on.