Ongoing History Daily: Rock’s first openly gay performer

Today it’s not a big deal when a musician comes out of the closet.  “He or she is gay?  Okay.”  But it wasn’t always this way. 

Take the experience of the first-ever openly gay rock star.  Any idea who that might have been?  His name was Bruce Wayne Campbell who adopted the stage name of “Jobriath.”  He was a California singer who signed a major deal in 1973. His career was launched with great fanfare, including a $200,000 billboard in Times Square. 

In interviews, he referred to himself as “a true fairy,” which, for 1973, was a pretty radical thing to do.  Unfortunately, this honesty worked against him and he quickly sunk into obscurity and died of AIDs at the age of 37 on August 3, 1983. 

It’s only now recently that some corners of the music world acknowledge Jobriath’s role as rock’s first openly gay performer.

Songs in commercials? That was discussed in the last post.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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