The University is against supporting child molesters economically, but a song played by the Herd of Thunder at football games results in royalties paid to an internationally convicted child sexual predator.
Gary Glitter is a convicted child molester, and every time the HOT plays his song, “Rock and Roll Pt. 2,” (the “Hey” song), during a televised game, he gets paid a small royalty from USF.
A University spokesman has said that USF is against supporting Glitter’s lifestyle, but it is unclear whether his song will continue to be played during the next football season.
The relationship between the University and Glitter stems from the way USF – and any other organization that uses copyrighted music – pays to use songs at sporting events.
USF pays thousands of dollars each year to buy song licenses. Once they are paid for, the University has permission to use the song. Without these fees, HOT would not be able to play any copyrighted music.
The University pays almost $12,000 a year to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Glitter is licensed by this company, and therefore, theoretically, receives some of that $12,000. All of the money collected goes straight to the artists, minus a 12 percent deduction for operating expenses, according to ascap.com.
Ray Schwind, an employee from the licensing department of ASCAP, said that how much each artist makes is “extremely confidential” and that the amount of money Glitter receives from the University could not be disclosed to the Oracle.
The process for deciding how much goes to each artist is a “massive process” and “millions upon millions of data” is considered, Schwind said.
USF does not report how often they play each song, rather ASCAP decides how much to charge USF by sampling different tapes from the games then estimating how much to charge the University in royalties.
“That’s the beauty of the license. There’s no reporting exactly,” said Seth Saltzman, senior vice president of membership management at ASCAP.
If the University stopped playing Glitter’s music, it would not make an impact, ASCAP said.
“You are blocks and blocks away from supporting him directly,” said Saltzman. “The only time a performance of the USF band results in a royalty to him is if the program is televised.”
During the 2007 football season, 12 of the 13 Bulls’ football games were televised. At press time, five out of 12 football games during the 2008 season are slated to be televised as well.
Feature performances, such as halftime shows, result in a higher payment for licenses, said Jim Steinblatt, the associate vice president of special projects at ASCAP.
Background music – or music played in the stands – is not considered a feature performance because the main programming is focused on the game and not on the music being played, he said. The only time HOT plays Glitter’s song is during the game and not for a halftime show.
“It’s the kind of thing where (the whole organization) puts a ban, then Gary Glitter’s check goes down,” said John Schnettler, assistant director of athletic bands at USF, saying that the University’s payments to Glitter may be minimal.
“I don’t like the idea of supporting – indirectly – his lifestyle,” he said. “I am fine with not playing that song for that reason.”
Schnettler said he was familiar with the controversy surrounding Glitter’s song and will bring it up when he and director of athletic bands Michael Robinson discuss HOT’s playlist with the University.
“We are going to bring that up next year and see how the University feels,” he said. “I would lean forward to it not playing.”
Robinson and Schnettler said they do not have complete control over what songs they play in the stands. HOT works with USF athletic marketing to decide what songs are played, said Ayodele Taylor-Dixon, assistant athletic director of marketing and event management.
“If the marketing people at USF think we should keep it in our repertoire, then we’ll keep playing it,” Schnettler said.
Taylor-Dixon said that athletic marketing suggests songs that will add to the game atmosphere. In reference to Glitter’s song, he said he did not know about Glitter’s criminal past before he spoke with the Oracle and said that his song would be an “item per review” when they discuss the song list for 2008-2009.
“I would need to call my colleagues and other schools to see what they’re doing to make an informed decision,” Taylor-Dixon said.
HOT, however, does have the power over what songs will be recorded on their upcoming CD, and Glitter’s song will not be included.
“Dr. Michael Robinson (and I) have decided to not include the ‘The Hey Song’ in our upcoming CD release because of the controversy surrounding the composer,” Schnettler said.
The student musicians in HOT have a say in what music they play during their field shows. They send in suggestions, and then vote on the most popular themes and ideas. This past football season, they performed a Queen tribute show, a Latin music show and a jazz music show. Themes from previous years have ranged from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Pink Floyd.
“It’s all student-driven,” Schnettler said.
When it comes to the music they play in the stands, the music band directors and staff work with USF athletic marketing in choosing songs.
Certain songs are meant for certain points of the game, such as the Bulls earning a first down or making a defensive stop, Schnettler said.
“I would imagine those songs being played 20 times in a game,” he said.
Others songs are saved for certain situations. For example, if the Bulls were down by two touchdowns, HOT might play “Don’t Stop Believin’,” or if they are ahead by four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, they might play “Hey, Hey, Hey Goodbye.”
“I try to get a feel of the game,” he said.
The musicians enjoy playing “Bulls on Parade,” “Shout it Out,” “Apache” and “Hey Baby,” the most, Schnettler said. Although the “The Hey Song” is played often, it is not a favorite among the musicians. It is popular among students, however, because of the personalized ad-libbed lyrics.
HOT musicians, however, have mixed reactions to Glitter’s background.
Trombone player Adam Torma, a sophomore majoring in engineering, said Glitter’s criminal record does not impact the way he views the song and said he thinks it’s just “interesting trivia.”
“When I’m playing the song, I’m thinking I’m going to pump up the crowd,” he said. “I might think of it, but it’s not going to affect the way I play it or me wanting to play it.”
Junior Danny Vidal, a trombone player majoring in music education who has marched with HOT for the past five years, said Glitter’s conviction doesn’t change his opinion of the song, but it does change his outlook on the composer.
“It’s a great song, it’s a crowd-pleaser,” he said. “It should stay because I believe it’s just a song written by a guy who happened to do the wrong thing.”
Some students at USF are upset that the song is played, however.
Tim Burke, a doctoral candidate and a graduate assistant in the communications department, said he was disgusted by Glitter’s background.
“It astonishes me that the Herd of Thunder still plays it,” he said.
USF spokesman Ken Gullette, who did not know about Glitter’s background, said that the University is against supporting Glitter’s lifestyle.
“Naturally, we abhor the crime of child molestation. We wouldn’t support that in any way,” he said. “This will trigger more discussions. It would be a very easy thing to drop this song, considering there are many songs in their repertoire to chose.”
The Marching Chiefs, Florida State University’s (FSU) athletic band, has never played Glitter’s song at a football game, and does not plan to.
David Plack, the co-director of the Marching Chiefs, said that they chose not to play the song because it is more appropriate for an arena setting, and to also separate themselves from other collegiate athletic bands.
Plack also said that he is “relieved” the Marching Chiefs do not play the song because of Glitter’s criminal history, which he did not know about until he spoke with the Oracle.
“Knowing this, it only reaffirms for me more of a reason to keep phasing it out to where we just don’t even worry with it,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would be crushed if The Hey Song ceased to exist.”
Glitter became famous in the 1970s for a string of glam rock hits – including “Rock and Roll Pt. 2.” The song only contains one lyric “hey!” and many Bulls fans add “Go Bulls!” at the end, when the song is played during sporting events. In 2006, the NFL urged all of its teams to stop playing that song at games, in light of the writer’s criminal record.”
Ultimately, it’s a team decision,” said Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesman. “We advise them not to use the song.”
McCarthy said the NFL does not want to be associated with or support a child molester.
The song has not been banned or urged against publicly by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) or the Big East Athletic Conference. HOT plays the song at least two or three times per football game.
Glitter, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was convicted of possession of child pornography in Britain in 1999 and served half of a four-month term in jail, according to the Western Daily Press in Bristol, England.
After that, he was exiled to Cuba but left after a newspaper exposed his location. He then moved to Cambodia, but left voluntarily two weeks “after his presence became known in the country – whose lax law enforcement has made it a haven for sex tourists, particularly pedophiles – because the public outrage made his life unbearable,” according to the Guardian. Glitter was accused of sexually harassing young boys in Cambodia, but it was never proven.
Glitter then moved to Vietnam, where he was later convicted of sexually abusing two under-aged girls and sentenced to three years in prison, according to The Times of London. Glitter is scheduled to be released in August 2008, according to the New York Times.
To some, Glitter’s personal crimes are so monstrous that they believe his song should not be played to avoid supporting him in any way. Burke said if society refuses to display art by morally apprehensible people, like Charles Manson, then Glitter should get the same treatment.
“What’s the difference between their art and Gary Glitter’s?” he said.