Iron Virgin, a Scottish glam rock band formed in 1972.
Back in 1973, riding high on his work with Thin Lizzy, Decca records sent out producer Nick Tauber off in search of a hot act to help them promote their other label called Deram Records (which put out David Bowie’s first self-titled album a year after it was established in 1967). Tauber ended up in Scotland and happened to catch a gig from Edinburgh-area band, Iron Virgin. Tauber signed the band to Deram and got them into the studio to record.
Iron Virgin was making a pretty good name for themselves before Tauber found them by playing Slade and Bowie covers, as well as their own original music all around Scotland. They dressed like their idols - decked out in sky-high platform boots and makeup. The band’s vocalist, Stuart Harper (now a high-end tie designer, pictured with the nifty “NO ENTRY” chastity belt codpiece above), made most of their stage clothes which consisted of embellished leotards, tights, and jumpsuits. Because it isn’t really “glam rock” unless your genitals are being strangled to death by something shiny and tight. 1973 was shaping up to be a pretty great year for Iron Virgin, who had only been around for about a year before Tauber “discovered” them.
Iron Virgin posing for their lives in their homemade “American Football” uniforms, as well as glammed-up Scottish tartan duds made by their vocalist Stuart Harper, early 1973/1974.
The single for the super-catchy Iron Virgin track, ‘Rebels Rule.’
According to an interview from 2014 with Iron Virgin guitarist Gordon Nicol, when they went into the studio with Tauber, they were “told” that they would be recording a cover of “Jet” originally recorded in 1973 by Paul McCartney and Wings for the album, Band on the Run. In addition to “Jet,” Iron Virgin also recorded a version of Rick Derringer’s “Teenage Love Affair” (from Derringer’s 1973 album, All American Boy), and a cover of the 1972 song “Shake that Fat” by Jo Jo Gunne (a band comprised of former members of Spirit), as well as three original songs, “Ain’t No Clown,” “Midnight Hitcher,” and the fist-pumping, T. Rex-y anthem, “Rebel Rules.”
Although the band enjoyed some success with their cover of “Jet” (which Deram released as a single in February of 1974), it was eclipsed by McCartney’s version that was released as a single that very same month - effectively delivering a death-blow to the up-and-coming band who would disband without ever recording again. Speaking of recordings, any physical copies of Iron Virgin vinyl are extremely rare and when they turn up, are pricey and highly-sought-after by collectors. In 2007, Rave Up Records reissued all six Iron Virgin singles on 12” vinyl, which swiftly sold out. The track “Rebel Rules” can be found on the great 2003 compilation of obscure glam released between the years 1973 and 1975, Velvet Tinmine. I’ve posted audio of all the Iron Virgin recordings I could dig up, which I coincidentally think you will really dig, below.
The name Iron Virgin is now taken by “the ultimate Iron Maiden tribute band.”
Iron Virgin, ‘Rebels Rule’
Iron Virgin, ‘Midnight Hitcher’
Iron Virgin’s cover of Rick Derringer’s 1973 single, ‘Teenage Love Affair.’
Iron Virgin, ‘Ain’t No Clown’
Iron Virgin’s cover of Paul McCartney and Wings 1973 hit, ‘Jet.’
H/T: For Malcontents Only
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Meet Bobbie McGee AKA ‘Gladys Glitter’: Glam rock’s ‘lost’ none-hit-wonder