30 years after the music died, look who's Virgin on a return

THEY were once young glam rockers with majestic hair, tight catsuits and a particularly ill-advised codpiece.

Now, more than 30 years after they disbanded, Portobello group Iron Virgin are set to make their glam rock return - albeit with a rather more sedate image.

Their three-year career promised much, but after splitting up in 1974, they were best remembered for a Kenny Everett jingle and a Paul McCartney cover version. However, following a surge of interest in glam rock, Iron Virgin are back in the mainstream.

One of their songs has recently been included on a glam rock compilation album, and a plea in the Evening News to track down the five members of the group met with an enthusiastic response.

At least two of the former rockers could now become guests of honour at the opening night of a glam rock club named after their biggest hit, Rebels Rule.

Lead singer Stuart Harper, 57, who is now a designer and artist for a tie company in Portobello, said he was "amazed" by the surge of interest in the band.

He said: "I'm quite shocked at the fact that our song is on glam rock compilations and there's an interest in us now. When we were playing, things just didn't work out for one reason or another, so to get some recognition 30 years on is quite something.

"I've looked back at some of the old photos and can't believe how flamboyant we were. I was probably wearing more make-up then than my daughter wears now.

"Thankfully I don't have that 'No Entry' codpiece any more."

Bassist Marshall Bain, who now runs the Queen Charlotte Rooms venue in Leith, added: "We were only about 18 or 19 when we started the band. We'd all known each other from Portobello High.

"Unfortunately, nothing really came of it, although I heard that we made the charts in Holland at some point. After the band split up, we kept in touch but two of the guys are over in the US and Canada now so it's mostly e-mail contact we have with them."

Guitarist Lawrie Riva is believed to manage Edinburgh's Turnhouse Flying Club restaurant, while drummer John Lovatt was last seen "somewhere in Canada". Iron Virgin's second guitarist, Gordon Nicol, now lives in Dallas and makes his living as a "Scottish poet" at weddings and private functions, although he still records music in his spare time.

Mr Nicol said he was shocked to hear that someone had decided to name a club after the band. He said: "That's a real honour. We had a great time - even when our record label tried to get us to go to Trafalgar Square and bite the heads off budgies. We turned them down, but they must have sold the idea to Ozzy Osbourne."

Mr Harper plans to accept the offer to appear as a VIP at the Rebels Rule opening night at Glasgow's Barfly on December 30. He said:

"I'm sure it would be interesting to go and hear all of the glam music that we used to play and listen to."