Songwriter and mega music producer Phil Spector was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009.
A football staple, Gadd's distinctive riff was played by the Monticello High School band last weekend.
The vital riff from Rock and Roll Part Two
It's the riff that's been pumping up UVA fans for years, energizing the Scott Stadium crowd pre-game when the Cavalier Marching Band plays its distinctive chords. And when it blares over the Scott Stadium loudspeakers after touchdowns, the crowd usually launches into a Stadium-wide chant: "U-V-A. Go Hoos, go." But hearing it makes at least one Cav fan very angry.
The song is the 1972 rock anthem "Rock and Roll Part 2"– often called "The Hey Song." And one fan is so disgusted by the child sex convictions of its creator that he's offered to pay UVA $5,000 to stop playing the tune forever.
"This is so offensive," says UVA alum/fan Sean Gregg, pointing out that there's been a nationwide push to remove the song from sporting events.
"I'm amazed," says Gregg, "it's never gotten any traction in Charlottesville."
What has Gregg so riled is the fact that the song's creator, '70s pop star Gary Glitter, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, is a repeat pedophile. Gadd's "glam rock" music was wildly popular in the U.K., made so partly by his outrageous, campy image of an androgynous star sporting glitter suits and silver platform boots. But in 1999, he was convicted of downloading thousands of child pornography images in the U.K. before heading to southeast Asia where his prurient interests escalated to even grimmer actions. In 2002, Gadd was ousted from Cambodia for suspicion of child sexual abuse, and in 2006, he was convicted of committing obscene acts against two Vietnamese girls, ages 11 and 12, and sentenced to three years behind bars.
Now that Gadd is a free man– able once again to travel the globe in pursuit of pleasure– many fans are eager to trim Gadd's profits, and some have pressured their favorite sports teams to stop playing the song. However, because of the way the song's rights are distributed to universities and sporting arenas by the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), even when recordings by Gary Glitter aren't played, Gadd, as the song's co-author, may still receive a steady stream of royalties.
This year, six years after asking all teams to stop playing it, the NFL banned use of the song in the Super Bowl's halftime show. Earlier this month, the Democratic party came under fire for playing the song at its national convention in Charlotte (as former employees from opponent Mitt Romney's Bain Capital came on stage).
The late June jury conviction of retired Penn State assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky did more than put away a molester on 45 felony counts. The crime and coverup at Penn State shattered a storied college football legacy and seemed to drive the great Joe Paterno to an early grave. It also seemed to end all performances of potentially offensive music at Penn State.
This fall, the Penn State Nittany Lions have banned "Rock and Roll Part 2" along with another fan favorite: the 1969 Neil Diamond classic "Sweet Caroline." Some fans say the school has taken note of the fact that Diamond– who included the line "touching me, touching you"– has made no secret of the fact that the song was inspired by a photograph of the then-11-year-old Caroline Kennedy.
That Diamond played the song to Kennedy at her 50th birthday celebration in 2007, and that it remains a favorite in her hometown's Fenway Park, suggests that Kennedy herself isn't terribly offended. And Penn State officials have denied that removing the song from the rotation was about the lyrics.
The Sandusky scandal may make quashing "Rock and Roll Part 2" an understandable choice at Penn State, but does UVA plan to keep lining a pedophile's pockets? And how much money does Gadd really get?
According to UVA Athletic Department spokesperson Jim Daves, the department is aware of Gary Glitter's criminal record, but says the Department hasn't received any complaints from fans or alumni since August 2010.
Gregg, an attorney in Orange, says the UVA official he contacted with his $5,000 offer– which he says he made earlier this month– was Cavalier Marching Band director William Pease.
Pease tells a reporter that he was under the impression that playing the song provides no royalties to Gadd. However, according to Daves, the University has a standard higher education agreement with ASCAP, one of several nonprofit music-licensing firms.
"We don't pay royalties directly to Gary Glitter," notes Daves.
The amount would be difficult to determine, but it's likely that Gadd does receive royalties indirectly from UVA because UVA pays a blanket annual fee to ASCAP allowing unlimited plays of any song in the company catalog– whether over the loudspeakers or from the drums and tubas of the Cavalier Marching Band.
According to Vincent Candilora, ASCAP's executive vice president of licensing, UVA pays at a rate of 33 cents per full time student. With approximately 21,000 students, that means the school might pay around $7,000 per year for unlimited rights to play or perform ASCAP-licensed songs. Candilora says ASCAP primarily looks at televised events to determine how to divvy up the royalties for songwriters and composers, using TV ratings and estimates of audience size in making the calculations.
While he won't comment on the amount paid to Gadd through UVA's annual license, Candilora notes that "Rock and Roll Part 2," along with Queen's "We are the Champions/We Will Rock You," and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," are some of the more frequently played songs at American college sporting events.
But should the fact that Gadd makes money from UVA mean the song– and the longstanding tradition enjoyed by thousands of Cavalier fans– should end? Not all UVA fans think so, but finding someone to talk publicly proves difficult when the topic involves child sexual abuse.
"I personally am torn on this issue," says one UVA alum, one of several sources to request anonymity for fear of seeing his name in a "pedophilia" story.
"The fact that other venues and schools have banned the song because he was a scumbag will certainly shake fans out of their ignorance about who wrote it, and what he did," says the alum, noting he hadn't heard anything about Gadd before a reporter's call. "On the other hand," the fan notes, "it's a fun tune that fires up the crowd."
There are laws and court procedures on the books to divert profits away from criminal enterprises. Most notably, the family of Ron Goldman now receives nearly all the revenue from the book former football star O.J. Simpson penned about the murders of Goldman and Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.
Another UVA fan points out that Gadd is hardly the only artist to have committed crimes and that receiving royalties for a song written three decades ago "doesn't amount to his benefiting from a crime."
Indeed, there's a litany of creative artists who have committed nefarious acts.
In 1977, film director Roman Polanski was charged with statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl and pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor. He went on to make acclaimed films– including The Pianist, which collected three Academy Awards.
In 2009, hip-hop musician Chris Brown was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend, fellow singer Rihanna. That didn't stop awards from flowing Brown's way, including a 2012 Grammy for Best R&B album.
Then there's Phil Spector. A prolific songwriter and music producer, Spector had a role in making hundreds of Top 40 hits including writing credits for "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" and "Da Doo Ron Ron." In 2009, then-68-year-old Spector was convicted of second degree murder for the 2003 shooting of actress Lana Clarkson.
A murder conviction may mean the public has lost some loving feelings for Spector the person, but his contributions go to the heart of popular music. Among the discs Spector produced are George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," John Lennon's classic "Imagine," and the Beatles' final studio album, Let it Be.
Two years ago, Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman posed a question that considered several trouble stars including Mel Gibson, who has been accused of domestic violence– along with an array of antisemitic, racist, and homophobic rants.
"When a Hollywood star, or director, acts badly in life," wrote Gleiberman, "it may bring out the closet moralist in us, but it may also, in some ways, reinforce what we found so arresting about that person as an artist or star in the first place.
"In other words," concludes Gleiberman, "morality and art are a combustible combination. They don’t always mix well."
That may be true, but domestic battery, even murder, are no match for the taboo of pedophilia. For Gregg, there's also the problem that the Gary Glitter song and all its painful connotations come blaring at him in the crowd at Scott Stadium, whether or not he wants to hear it.
"I think that's the issue," says Gregg, who contends that listening to music by such a tainted artist should be an individual choice rather than one made by a university.
Based on the volume of the cheering that follows Gadd's song at UVA's games, it would seem the majority of the fans either don't know, don't care, or have learned to compartmentalize his past. Gregg says he hopes it's just ignorance.
"If people knew the guy's history," says Gregg, "they'd probably find it offensive."