Gary Gilmore's Eyes

"Gary Gilmore's Eyes" is a single by the punk rock[1] band the Adverts. The song reached No. 18 in the UK Singles Chart in September 1977 and earned the band an appearance on Top of the Pops.[2]

"Gary Gilmore's Eyes"
Single by The Adverts
from the album Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts
B-side"Bored Teenagers"
RecordedPebble Beach Studios, Worthing
GenrePunk rock
LabelAnchor Records
Songwriter(s)T. V. Smith
Producer(s)Larry Wallis, the Adverts
Alternative cover
Music video
"Gary Gilmore's Eyes" on YouTube

It was originally intended to be included on the band's debut album, Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts, but was dropped at the last minute. It has, however, been included in most reissues of the album.[3]

The song was used in the soundtrack for Shot in the Heart,[4][5] an HBO movie based on the memoir of the same name written by Gary Gilmore's brother, Mikal Gilmore, about his dysfunctional family and the eventual murder and execution.[6]


The song was written from the point of view of a patient who has just undergone an eye transplant and discovers that he has received the eyes of the executed double murderer Gary Gilmore.[7] Gilmore had requested that his eyes be donated to science after his execution as "they'd probably be the only body part usable".[8]

After Gilmore's execution, several of his body parts were removed for possible use as transplants or for study.[9] His corneas were used for transplants.[10][11]

Track listing

1977 release

  1. "Gary Gilmore's Eyes"
  2. "Bored Teenagers"

1983 release

  1. "Gary Gilmore's Eyes"
  2. "New Day Dawning"
  3. "We Who Wait"


The song was called "anthemic punk" by Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe[4] and a "forgotten gem" by David Browne of Entertainment Weekly.[12] Sounds described it as "the sickest and cleverest record to come out of the new wave: Single of the Week".[13][14]

It was later included at No. 12 in Mojo's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.[15]

Cover versions

"Gary Gilmore's Eyes" was covered, in cooperation with Adverts frontman T. V. Smith, in 1991 by the German punk band Die Toten Hosen, appearing on their album Learning English, Lesson One.[16] Smith later recorded another version of the song, backed by Die Toten Hosen, for his 2001 album Useless: The Very Best of T.V. Smith.[17][18]

Finnish band Punk Lurex OK also covered the song, recorded in Finnish under the title "Tappajan Silmät" ("The Eyes of the Murderer"), and released it as a single in 1994.[19] In 2000, Smith collaborated with Punk Lurex OK, recording another version of the song which was included on their joint EP, The Future Used to Be Better.[20]

Smith released a live version of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" on the 2009 album Live at the N.V.A. Ludwigsfelde, Germany.[21]

Finnish ska band the Valkyrians released a version of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes", with Smith guesting, on their 2011 album Punkrocksteady.[22][23]


  1. Bradley, Michael (15 March 2016). "The 10 best punk rock singles, by The Undertones' Michael Bradley". TeamRock. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  2. Seal, Lizzie (7 March 2014). Capital Punishment in Twentieth-Century Britain: Audience, Justice, Memory. Routledge. p. 161. ISBN 978-0415622448. Retrieved 18 January 2017. This reached number 18 in the British charts and was performed on Top of the Pops in August 1977.
  3. Thompson, Dave. "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" at AllMusic
  4. Gilbert, Matthew (12 October 2001). "A SEARING TALE OF TWO BROTHERS". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 14 April 2011. The soundtrack rises from abstract notes of angst and irresolution into the anthemic punk of the Adverts' "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," a pounding symbol of the ...
  5. Mills, Bart (12 October 2001). "The Executioner's Brother's Song; Giovann Ribisi tackles role of Gary Gilmore's sibling". The Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  6. Morrison, Blake (17 July 1994). "A bad case of blood-poisoning: 'Shot in the Heart'". The Independent. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  7. Masley, Ed (27 February 2009). "Hot list: Female New Wave icons". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 14 April 2011. the Adverts' single "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," in which an eye transplant recipient must come to terms with looking at the world through eyes that once belonged to Gilmore, who'd gone on an infamous killing spree a few years earlier.
  8. Sullivan, Jim (2 November 2003). "Box full of punk-rock aggression". Boston Globe. Retrieved 14 April 2011. ... to the Adverts taking the point of view of a hospital patient who has received the eyes of Gary Gilmore in a transplant; Gilmore, the infamous killer executed by a Utah firing squad, had said he'd donate his eyes to science as they'd probably be the only body part usable.
  9. "Organs donated, body cremated - Gary Gilmore saga over". Associated Press. Salt Lake City, Utah. 18 January 1977. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  10. Breslin, Jimmy (18 January 1977). "Utah Stuffs Its Dilemma Into a Body Bag". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 April 2011. Gilmore's eyes had to be kept in good shape because, upstairs in a surgery room, a team of ophthal- was waiting to remove Gilmore's corneas.
  11. Gillins, Peter (18 January 1977). "Gilmore lived 2 minutes after volley of shots". Time-Union. Warsaw, Indiana. Retrieved 14 April 2011. Gilmore left his corneas to an unnamed eye doctor
  12. Browne, David (5 February 1993). "DiY: We're Desperate - The L.A. Scene (1993)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  13. Thompson, Dave (2000). Punk. Ontario: Collector’s Guide Publication. p. 65. ISBN 1-896522-27-0.
  14. Thompson, Dave (12 September 1997). "The Adverts: Bored Teenagers". Goldmine. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  15. "100 Punk Scorchers". Mojo. October 2001. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  16. Die Toten Hosen – Learning English, Lesson One at Discogs
  17. Useless. The Very Best Of T.V. Smith at Discogs
  18. Thompson, Dave. Useless: The Very Best of TV Smith at AllMusic
  19. Punk Lurex O.K. – Tappajan Silmät at Discogs
  20. TV Smith and Punk Lurex O.K. – The Future Used To Be Better at Discogs
  21. TV Smith – Live At The N.V.A. Ludwigsfelde, Germany at Discogs
  22. The Valkyrians – Punkrocksteady at Discogs
  23. "CD & DVD Reviews" (#46). FolkWorld. November 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
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