♥*•♫♪♪♫•♥ ♥ •♫♪♪♫•♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ *•♫♪♪♫•*¨*•. * ¸♥♫•*¨*♥ ♥ His music. •♫♪♪♫•*¨*•. *¸♥♫ His determination. ♥*•♫♪♪♫•♥ ♥ • His poetry ♫♪♪♫•♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ *•♫♪♪♫ Thank you Marc Bolan ♥ ♥ •♫♪♪♫•♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Gone but never ever forgotten. ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥
Superstar-To-Be” Marc Bolan (nee Mark Feld) entered the 20th Century via the maternity ward of Hackney Hospital, East London on 30th September 1947 and was the second son to Simeon and Phyllis Feld, and brother to Harry. His first home was 25 Stoke Newington Common, a small flat within an old Victorian townhouse, from where he firstly attended Northwold Road Primary School in Stoke Newington and later The William Wordsworth Secondary Modern School in Wordsworth Road, London. Leaving school at the age of 14, and claiming to have been expelled, Marc later explained that he didn't think they were teaching him the things he wanted to know.
However, he was still a schoolchild when his Dad mistakenly bought him a Bill Haley record, instead of one by Bill Hayes (of “Ballad Of Davey Crockett” fame), and his interest in music was ignited and then encouraged by his devoted parents. From this very early age Marc knew that he wanted to be a star and it wasn’t too long before he took his first steps on his long journey to fame, having been bought his first guitar by his Mum.
Forming his first “group” in 1959, along with schoolmate and later ‘60’s teenage singing star Helen Shapiro, and Stephen Gould, who also enjoyed ‘60’s chart success himself, he called it “Suzie And The Hula-Hoops”. Rehearsals were held in the front rooms of their homes and two public performances were given, one at a local cafe and the other at a local school.
Unfortunately these appear to have been the sum achievement of the band and it subsequently disbanded. Down, but not out, Marc then shifted his focus on to his appearance and clothes and he soon became known as “The Face” around his locality. Sporting an impressive wardrobe of sharp suits and expensive shoes it wasn’t long before the media noticed him, fascinated by the newly emerging Mod Movement. In 1962 the top men’s magazine “Town” interviewed Marc and his fellow Mod friends for an in-depth article, but it was Marc who came through as the main subject with a number of photographs of him liberally illustrating the pages.
This fascination with his image stayed with him and Marc enjoyed the prestige that came with being the coolest lad around his locale, a situation that only changed when the family later upped sticks and moved to Summerstown. However, Marc’s sights were still firmly set on a musical career and in 1963 he reputedly met up with record producer Joe Meek in an attempt to launch his singing career. Although a record deal did not result a very scratchy acetate of a song called “Mrs Jones” has since been discovered and, although it boasts distinctly Bolan style vocals, documentary evidence that it is indeed Marc has not been discovered- yet! If it is ever proved that it is Marc’s vocals then the subject names of his two earliest recordings – Jones and Gloria- are an eerie and spooky coincidence in the light of later developments…………………
The following year, 1964, Marc carried out some modelling work for Littlewood's catalogue and for a brochure for menswear retailers John Temple. He is reported as saying that he was also a cutout model for the John Temple shop window displays too. Later that same year, Marc secured his first proper demo recording session, details for which are scant, and a second in January 1965, when takes of “Blowin' In The Wind” and “The Road I'm On (Gloria)” were recorded. It is around this time that Marc assumed the name Toby Tyler (possibly taken from a Disney film of the same name) and it is this name that appeared on the acetate and master tapes.
Yet again a recording deal was not forthcoming and the recordings were consigned to the “No” pile until their eventual release some 30 years later. However, on February 16th 1965, Marc attended another demo session, this time for Columbia Records, but was unfortunately once again rejected for a record deal. His luck soon changed though as in August 1965 he was signed to Decca Records and his recording career started in earnest. His first proper recording session for Decca took place in September, where the songs “The Wizard”, “Beyond The Rising Sun” and “That's The Bag I'm In” were laid down. By now Marc was known as Marc Bolan and his first single, the atmospheric “The Wizard” b/w “Beyond The Rising Sun” was released in November that year. Supposedly written about a mystic whom Marc had encountered on his visit to France it was a commercial flop, despite several television appearances, including “Ready Steady Go”, to promote it as well as favourable critical reviews.
The follow up single, “The Third Degree” b/w “San Francisco Poet' released in June 1966 also failed to chart, a strange occurrence as it was an infectious, raucous, upbeat song that, like it’s predecessor, had gained critical acclaim and deserved chart status perhaps even more so than “The Wizard”. Marc was later to claim that he had no knowledge that the song was to be released and considered it to be more of a demo. However, the superb production of the track doesn’t really fit in with this view and Marc’s viewpoint was probably a typical Bolan-esque one – don’t acknowledge the downs, just the ups!
Now free of the Decca contract, Marc took his career back into his own hands, having dispensed with former managers/publicists Allan Warren and Mike Pruskin. Cheekily phoning record producer Simon Napier-Bell at home and requesting an audition, he then turned up on Napier-Bell’s doorstep a few minutes later, guitar in hand, to perform his songs for him there and then. His story to Napier-Bell of having demo tapes for him to listen to was not true and he blagged his way into the flat to play a set of songs to the bemused- and amused – manager.
Suitably impressed with what he heard, Napier-Bell was able to secure a one off single deal with Parlophone, and “Hippy Gumbo” was released as a single, selected from a slew of songs laid down in the studio at the time. Marc was so convinced of his imminent stardom that he told Napier-Bell that all that was needed were photographs of him displayed prominently for all to see, and the world would fall at his feet! In spite of a lavish production, another “Ready Steady Go” appearance (the same programme that Jimi Hendrix debuted on) and more good reviews, it proved to be another commercial flop. However, all was not lost as it was this record that was to be instrumental in introducing the DJ John Peel to the music of Marc Bolan.
The disappointing performance of the single forced a re-think by Napier-Bell, who had to convince Marc that the world was not yet ready for his take-over. Amongst Napier-Bell’s band roster was a band that had almost seen chart action in Britain and had a minor hit in the USA – Johns Children. The departure of the bands guitarist left a gap for Napier-Bell to slot Marc into, the intention being to use his song-writing abilities to enhance the band’s somewhat limited range as well as to use them as a platform for the British public to accept Marc’s distinctive vocals.
Marc duly became a band member around February/March 1967 and stayed with them until June the same year. During his time with them he wrote their most memorable track, the single “Desdemona” which claimed the honour of a BBC ban owing to the “risqué” line “Lift Up Your Skirts And Fly” – good old Auntie Beeb - ever the prude! The single almost hit the British Top 50 and doubtless would have done so if were not for the BBC ban which restricted its radio airplay. Bolan also toured with the band when they supported legendary rockers “The Who” in Germany and also penned more Johns Children recorded tracks. “Midsummer Nights Scene” was pressed as a single but it was withdrawn before hitting the shops owing to Marc’s resignation from the band over his dissatisfaction with the production.
The b-side track - another Bolan penned gem called “Sara Crazy Child” - was re-used on the quickly issued follow-up single “Come & Play With Me In The Garden” but the single bombed, as did the subsequent one “Go Girl”, a Bolan track that was re-worded in an attempt to cash in on the 60’s club-girl craze.
Marc had not been happy with being a mere band member and the affair over his material had only served to emphasise the point. He wanted to be in control. Placing an advert in Melody Maker for band members for his new group, Marc initially recruited four musicians. However, following a disastrous debut gig at “The Electric Garden” (later “Middle Earth) and the repossession of Marc’s instruments by Track Records who still owned them under his Johns Children contract, the five piece band, named “Tyrannosaurus Rex”, was reduced to a duo.
Marc’s dreams of world domination had taken a bashing but undeterred he and Steve “Peregrin” Took continued the band as an acoustic hippy duo. With limited instrumentation such as guitar, bongos, pixiephone and tables they recorded some demos for Napier-Bell and Track Records but did not obtain a contract.
The duo started to gig extensively, for little money, and slowly but surely started to gain devoted following amongst the hippies and students of Great Britain. Around this time John Peel belatedly discovered Marc’s “Hippy Gumbo” single and played it a few times on his radio show. Marc wrote to thank him and the two struck up a friendship that paid dividends for Tyrannosaurus Rex as Peel then ensured that the band was booked to appear at venues where he was appearing as DJ/Maitre’D. Marc and Steve gained an even wider audience for their unique style of music and Marc’s dream of stardom was on the road to becoming a reality. In 1968 Tyrannosaurus Rex were spotted at a gig by USA record producer Tony Visconti, and following talks and a home demo session at Visconti’s home, they were signed to Straight Ahead Productions and “Regal Zonophone” as the label’s “token underground group”.
Simon Napier-Bell withdrew as their manager sensing that he could do no more with them and they signed a new management deal with Blackhill Enterprises, where Marc met his future wife June Child. Their first single, “Debora” saw chart action, peaking at no. 34 in April and their first album, 'My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair, But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows', recorded on a slim budget and released in July, proved to be a success charting as high as no 15 in the album charts. However their second album, 'Prophets, Seers, And Sages, The Angels Of The Ages' was not so successful although the second single “One Inch Rock” bettered the chart high of “Debora” and breached the Top Thirty at no. 28.
The band continued to tour throughout the UK and made many appearances on BBC radio via John Peel’s shows for Radio 1. Tyrannosaurus Rex achieved much success as an underground band and gained a healthy fan-base who appreciated the whimsical, Tolkien inspired feel of Marc’s music combined with his unique vocals and Steve’s gymnastic backing and assured percussion. Feted as the “Darlings of the Underground” Tyrannosaurus Rex played to sell out concerts and had one time even had the then unknown David Bowie as a support act. However by 1969 there was increasing tension between Marc and Steve Took, which accelerated after March that year when Marc bought his Fender Stratocaster, and started to introduce the electric guitar into the band’s set. Despite this tension they released the excellent “Unicorn” album in May ‘69, which returned them once again to the charts and reached a respectable no 12. Although their third single, “Pewter Suitor”, released in January, had failed to shift many copies, the fourth, the thumping, electric “King Of The Rumbling Spires” did reach No.44 in the charts in July and introduced the band’s fans to a different sounding Rex.
In August of that year, Tyrannosaurus Rex embarked on an American tour although Steve Took has already been sacked so his heart wasn't in it, although the US TV appearances show both of the duo in fine form. Marc found a replacement in Mickey Finn and he joined Tyrannosaurus Rex in October 1969. That November they embarked on a successful British tour and also laid down some tracks in readiness for the next LP and single release. Many tracks had been already recorded with Steve Took and so Marc and Visconti removed his participation and, using Mickey’s contribution, they re-recorded the tracks for the album by the “new” Tyrannosaurus Rex. Released early in 1970 the 'Beard Of Stars' album reached number 21 in the charts whilst the single “By The Light Of A Magical Moon” sold healthily but didn’t set the charts alight. However, the new Tyrannosaurus Rex proved to be a success and Steve’s departure had not seemed to harm the bands reputation at all. Their records still sold well and the gigs were sold out. Tyrannosaurus Rex was still striding forth but Marc wanted more.
In September the band name was officially shortened to the easier to pronounce “T-Rex” and the three track gem “Ride A White Swan” was issued as the first single on the newly formed “Fly” label in October. Complete with bass guitar and strings it was the most commercial single up to that date and it attracted massive sales. Marc and Mickey made their first appearance on Top Of The Pops in November 1970 as it rode the charts, peaking at number 2 and remaining in the charts for a phenomenal 20 weeks. America also took to the single and it made a respectable no 76 in the Hot 100. Marc had struck gold. However, the new, fuller, sound that the band had adopted meant that a new member was required for live performances and so Steve Currie joined “T-Rex” to add his skilful bass guitar to the line up, debuting with the band in November. The “T.Rex” album, released in December 1970 reached number 13 in the UK charts and was one of the first- if not the first – albums to sport a half-page gatefold sleeve that opened out into a mini poster. The image of Marc and Mickey, white faced like innocent geishas, remains a potent one to this day and surely helped attract interest in the album on display in the shop racks.
Things were really moving now and early in 1971 the decision was taken to add a full drum kit to the line up. Bill Legend was chosen to be the bands drummer as he had already worked with T-Rex as a session drummer for “Hot Love” and “Woodland Rock”, both tracks intended for the soon to be released follow up single to “Ride A White Swan”. Following its February release “Hot Love” became the band's first number 1 single. Another value-for- money three track single, “Hot Love” was a pounding, catchy, danceable song and it shot up the charts to the number 1 spot where it remained for 6 weeks. It peaked at number 72 in the USA Top 100 and was also a big success worldwide. Marc’s stunning attire, and the dab of glitter under his eyes for BBC television’s “Top Of The Pops”, single-handedly created a new musical genre - “Glam Rock”. The impact that this glamorous appearance made on Britain and Europe’s record buying public was immense and almost overnight the shops were full of glitter and silks and satins. Even lads adopted the look and it was not unusual to see male Marc Bolan look-alikes in the High Street alongside the girls! Not since the Beatles had popularised the “no-collar” jackets in the early ‘60’s had any rock star influenced so many people. Cashing in on the two big singles, in March “Fly Records” issued 'The Best Of T-Rex' album, a misnomer as it consisted of “Tyrannosaurus Rex” tracks only, but it still reached number 21 in the charts. By mid 1971, T-Rex were huge in Britain, and most other countries, though it has to be said that they were still struggling to find major recognition in the USA though as a cult band they were respected.
Released in July 1971, the three track 'Get It On' became the second number 1 for T-Rex and it remained there for 4 weeks. Charting all over the world it also reached number 10 in the US Top 100. The 'Electric Warrior' album, with its free poster, was released in September 1971 and took the music world by storm. It was a huge seller and spent six months in the UK Top Thirty where it spent 6 weeks in the number 1 spot in 1971, returning to the top spot for a further 2 weeks in 1972 and spending 9 months in the charts overall. It was also a big success in the USA where it spent nearly eight months in the US Top 200, peaking at number 32. In October T-Rex embarked on their massively successful 'Electric Warriors' British tour during which “Jeepster” was released as a single by “Fly” against Marc's wishes in November 1971 just as his contract with them had expired. A class cut from the “Electric Warrior” album it was smash hit and reached number 2 in the UK Top Thirty despite Marc’s refusal to officially promote it and was only prevented from reaching number 1 by Benny Hill's novelty Christmas single 'Ernie'.
If 1971 was busy then 1972 was an extremely busy year for T-Rex. It started with Marc signing to EMI and the setting up of his own record label and company – Wizard. The “T.Rex Wax Co Ltd” label was a stunning piece of genius as not only did it give complete creative control to Marc, it also ensured that his face was emblazoned on the label in stunning red against a blue background with the name “T.Rex” boldly prominent for all to see on both the label and the record sleeve. It was a sign of the power that he now commanded that EMI had agreed to the deal and it meant that Marc joined the elite as only “The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones” had their own labels and companies.
Following an appearance on ITV’s children’s show “Magpie” on January 13th the band played a pivotal concert on January 15th at the “Boston Gliderdrome” in Lincolnshire which was recorded by ATV for a documentary, “Whatever Happened To Tin Pan Alley?” shown later in the year. The concert was manic and it was as a result of this night of intense fan hysteria that the term “T-Rextasy” was first coined by the media to try and describe it. The ‘70’s version of the ‘60’s “Beatlemania” it proved to the world at large that T.Rex were the band of the moment. Marc’s dinosaur had finally dominated the music world, as he always knew it would do.
It might have taken a few small steps as well as a couple of backward ones along its way but it was now striding out at full speed. T.Rex were indeed reborn and bopping! On the 21st January the first single on the “T.Rex Wax Co Label”, “Telegram Sam”, was released and shot straight to the number 1 spot, also becoming a top 10 hit in numerous European countries, and even reached the US Top 100 at No. 68. At the end of January they performed a series of live dates in Scandinavia and West Germany before embarking on a reasonably successful North American tour in February. However, March 18th 1972 saw T.Rex perform two sell out concerts at Wembley, London, where the scenes of absolute hysteria, mayhem, fan-worship and idolising reached even greater heights. Playing to 20,000 screaming fans, Bolan and his band inspired headlines like “20,000 screamers and the day that Pop came back” and “Bolan’s Triumph”. The music world was rocked on its heels and Marc Bolan stood tall- the little “Bopping Elf” had become the gigantic “Electric Warrior” and the world was at his feet. In conjunction with Ringo Starr and Apple Films the two concerts were filmed for use in the movie “Born To Boogie” which was released later the same year.
With T.Rex records selling in their millions and Tyrannosaurus Rex oldies the top of many fans “wants” lists, and selling at extortionate prices, “Fly Records” were not slow to exploit their back catalogue. The first to emerge was an EP consisting of the old singles “Debora” and “One Inch Rock” plus an album track, “The Seal Of Seasons”. Issued immediately after the Wembley concerts the single sold in droves and gained a no 7 high for the Tyrannosaurus Rex oldies. Marc was publicly annoyed, but monetarily at least it did him no harm as he still got his royalties.
The official follow up to “Telegram Sam” was “Metal Guru” which also reached number 1 in May and spent four weeks at the top. A searing wall of sound this single again was a huge hit worldwide and is considered by many as the epitome of the “Glam Rock Sound”. Also released in May was another “Fly” album called “Bolan Boogie” which gathered up the quartet of Fly singles, some b-sides and some Tyrannosaurus Rex material too. The album wasted no time in taking the pole position and, technically at least, gave Marc his second no.1 album. T.Rex’s official album though was the sublime “The Slider” released later in July and which was reported to have sold 100,000 copies in four days alone! Oddly the album stalled at no 4 though it remained in the charts for 19 weeks and also did big business in the USA where it reached no.17.
During a second North American tour in the Autumn of 1972 “Children Of The Revolution” was released in Britain and pounded its way to number 2 in the charts as well as taking off in many other countries. It was also featured in the yet to be released “Born To Boogie” although when the film was seen the version differed a great deal to that of the vinyl cut. On the 1st December '”Solid Gold Easy Action” was released, and once again a T.Rex song positioned itself at number 2 in the charts. As with “Ride A White Swan” and “Jeepster”, Marc was held off from the no. 1 spot by a novelty record. On those occasions the culprits had been “Grandad” and “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)” respectively. Those were bad enough - this time it was worse! Marc was held off the no. 1 spot by the awful “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool” by the precocious “Little Jimmy Osmond”.
However, the single remained chartbound for a 12 week run even so. The film 'Born To Boogie' was premiered later that month on the 14th December at the Oscar One Cinema, Soho, London, where it met with mixed critical reviews but did big box office throughout Britain. Fans flocked to the cinema showings and treated the film like a concert, screaming and crying along with the filmed audience to the sounds of T.Rex. They, at least, appreciated what Marc and Ringo had attempted to capture- the excitement and glamour of a T.Rex concert- even if the unenlightened critics had not!
1973 came and Marc’s music took on a different feel. American singers Gloria Jones, Pat Hall and Stephanie Spruill were employed as backing singers and Marc started to enhance the T-Rex sound by seeking to introduce the sound of soul into his music. However, in March, the latest single, '20th Century Boy' had blasted it way into the charts at number 3 – a phenomenal achievement to be sure. The single was pure “metal and power” and critically it gained rave reviews. The song dominated the airwaves for weeks but strangely did not rise higher than no. 3 despite this. Later, in the summer of 1973 Marc also introduced a second guitarist, Jack Green, into the line-up in order to give him more freedom on stage and to fill out the bands live sound. Another tour of the USA displayed the new bands prowess to the full and it was a very different sounding T.Rex that boogied across the States this time around, though it was to a largely dissatisfied audience on the East Coast at least.
The album of that year was the smooth sounding “Tanx”, also released in March, which emulated its predecessor by also attaining the no.4 slot in the album charts. Containing no singles to promote it, Marc did so instead by appearing on the Cilla Black Show and via music paper interviews. The album’s sound was very American and it showed Marc’s love of blues and soul clearly. There were still out and out rock songs, but overall the feel was very bluesy/sexy/sleazy, especially considering the risqué photograph on the sleeve of Marc and a cunningly placed tank and its muzzle!
The June single - “The Groover” – exploded on to the scene in June and was a typical T.Rex sounding record, complete with its drum and guitar intro and the tongue in cheek “T – R – E – X” chant that greeted the listener. Marc announced that it was to be the last single in the typical T.Rex vein, which proved to be correct. His fans loved it and it soared chart-wise to a respectable no. 4. It was though to be the last Top Ten single that Marc was to enjoy, although subsequent singles still saw healthy chart action through to 1977.
At the end of 1973 T-Rex carried out an extensive tour of the Far East and played to ecstatic audiences in Australia. However, following the tour, Bill Legend left the band in November, and Marc was left to recruit a new drummer.
During the band’s absence a new single was released. The driving “Truck On (Tyke”) received an indifferent reception from music critics but still charted at no 12 in Britain. The American influence was very strongly heard on the track and it was not really a typical T.Rex sounding song at all. Gloria’s vocals were much more upfront and the sound was minimalist in comparison to other singles but the lyrical content remained pure Bolan with his “Dinosowahs”, his “Palamino Lady” and his “You can’t hurt me though, ‘cos I’m Cosmic” imagery shining through. Also released this year was the “Great Hits” album that fared reasonably well but only reached chart position 32 in spite of its free colour poster and excellent collection of T.Rex aural masterpieces.
The single and album took the band into 1974 and by this time not only was Gloria Jones a full time member, she was also Marc’s partner, his marriage to June having finally broken up. Drummer Davey Lutton was recruited to replace Bill Legend and the new look T.Rex went on the “Truck Off Tour” early in the year. Boasting a fuller figure, and the new fuller sound, which also showcased an additional drummer, Paul Fenton, Marc played to ecstatic fans and the tour was well received by critics and fans alike. A new single hit the shops in February and amazed the media and fans. “Teenage Dream”, taken from the forthcoming album, was a complete change in style to anything that T.Rex had done before. The lyrics harked back to the Tyrannosaurus Rex days in that they were wordy and almost poetic in essence, but the music was pure soul and blues. A self mocking track in a way, this release saw the single being credited to “ Marc Bolan & T.Rex” and then just “Marc Bolan” which, along with the production credit amendments, was a clear indication that Marc’s attitude was beginning to change.
It sold well and made no.13 in the charts - not bad for a song that was hardly danceable and certainly was not aimed at the screaming teenage market in spite of its endearing title. The album from which it came sent ripples through the media as well as Marc’s parent company, EMI. Way back in the early days Marc had joked with journalists that when he achieved success he would change his name to “Zinc Alloy” and wear metal clothing! The new album saw him do (almost) that as it was titled “Zinc Alloy & The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow” and carried a sub-title “Or, A Creamed Cage In August”. Initially the album was planned for release in a multi gatefold sleeve but the paper shortage of 1974 meant that costs were too high and so a revised version hit the shops, whilst the de-luxe version was saved for competition prizes etc. Where “Tanx” was smooth and slinky, “Zinc Alloy” was metallic and brash and was a true reflection of the name that Marc had adopted for the release, although EMI insisted on a diagonal “Marc Bolan & T.Rex” name banner proclaiming the album’s true origins. Drastically underrated by the critics and ignored by the fickle fans that couldn’t understand where Marc’s head was at, the album still made the Top 20 and peaked at a creditable no. 12. Gloria’s soul influences were everywhere and she and Pat Hall punctuated many of the albums tracks with their powerful backing vocals.
The old style T.Rex was well and truly gone, a fact emphasised by the departure of producer Tony Visconti who moved on to pastures new. Tony’s departure left Marc in charge of production and the world waited to see just what would emerge next from the recording studios. In the meantime guitarist Jack Green also left and so did backing singer Sister Pat Hall, though not before she had laid down a number of recordings with Marc for a projected album release . That August keyboard player Peter 'Dino' Dines was recruited and in the autumn of 1974 the latest incarnation of T-Rex made what was to be their final tour of North America to a lukewarm response, although a new record deal with Casablanca Records had seen the release of the “Light Of Love” album over there. Track Records took advantage of a loophole in this year and issued a compilation of Marc’s 1960’s demos on the album “Beginning Of Doves”. They had previously sought to release it back in 1972, along with a single, “Jasper C Debussy”, but Marc had successfully blocked both records appearance. However, this time round they slipped through the net and both the album and single reached the shops, much to the delight of Marc’s legions of followers. Neither disc troubled the charts but the songs were a welcome addition to many Bolan fans record collections.
The 'Light Of Love' single was released in July 1974 in Britain but peaked lower than “Teenage Dream” at number 22. By this time Marc was a tax exile and was living outside of Britain for tax purposes and so a video was recorded to promote the track in Britain. The single was a lovely slice of pop’n’soul and the video expertly portrayed the song with its clever use of special effects and colours. However, it did not get shown in Britain and only surfaced on the Bolan scene years later. Had it been seen at the time it would justifiably have been credited with being one of the first pop videos as it pre-dated “Queen’s” “Bohemian Rhapsody” by well over a year. The next single- “Zip Gun Boogie” miserably stalled at no. 41 although media reaction had been favourable indeed on its release. Marc had even been credited with emerging from the doldrums sound-wise but sales-wise it was a disappointing flop.
1975’s British album was also a bit of a disappointment to many - the poorly received “Bolan’s Zip Gun” released in February. It did get some good media reviews but the record buying public were seemingly unimpressed by this latest venture. The album contained some of those used on the Casablanca album in the USA along with new ones that replaced the “Zinc Alloy” ones on that release. It was not one of Marc’s most consistent albums although there were some good tracks in the grooves, including perhaps one of Marc’s most beautiful songs ever, “Till Dawn”. For the first time since 1968 an official “Bolan-released” album missed hitting the charts. This album was also the last to feature Marc’s sidekick Mickey Finn, who left the band in January to go his own way, leaving Steve Currie as the last of Marc’s “glory years” T.Rex collaborators.
During ’75 Marc made many appearances on the pop show “Supersonic” and his fans were able to enjoy seeing Marc on TV even if not live on stage. A welcome return to the charts came with the “One Inch Rock” inspired “New York City” single which frog-hopped its way up to No. 15 in the summer of ’75 and was considered a “comeback” single for the band, although to his loyal fans he really had never been away! Marc’s image had drastically changed for this release with his frizzed hair and pancake make-up concealing his delicate features. It certainly grabbed the attention of the media who made much of the new look, and of what they considered a return to form music–wise.
A UK tour was pencilled in for November 1975, but was subsequently cancelled when Marc and Gloria became the proud parents to son Rolan Seymour Feld in September, a few days before Marc’s own birthday. His music was important but Marc’s new family came first! The single out at the time of Rolan’s arrival was the disco inspired “Dreamy Lady” that also charted at no 30. The b-side tracks heavily featured Gloria whilst Marc’s image for the song on “Supersonic” surprised everyone with his dramatic blue make-up and hair pre-dating the punk/Goth look by a good many years!
In February 1976, Marc and the band embarked on their biggest UK tour since 1971 to promote a new album with “The Futuristic Dragon” tour. The “Futuristic Dragon” album had been released in January, and sneaked into the charts at number 50. It wasn’t a brilliant album in comparison to, say, “The Slider”, but it proved that Marc was returning to form. Consisting of some “left over “tracks from 1974 and bolstered with new ones, plus a couple of hit singles too the album sold on the back of the successful tour. The album began with a screeching, wailing piece of heavy metal fretwork before Marc’s vocals spat out the title song’s lyrics with a passion. No one would have guessed that the track had originally started out as the vocal song “Bolan’s Zip Gun” and rejected for that album.
Never one to waste a good idea though, Marc resurrected it and gave it a new slant- “Yes, and I do mean Yes!” Hidden gems abounded amongst the tracks and songs like “Sensation Boulevard” and “Jupiter Liar” cried out for singles release but instead a new song called “London Boys” was issued. Based on Marc’s “Mod King” memories and “about the time when I used to beat up little old ladies” (to quote a tongue in cheek Marc) the band heavily promoted its February 20th release during the tour and the single hit the charts but stuck at number 40. For this incarnation Marc invented “The Bolan Blob”- a golden glint at the forefront of his corkscrew hair and wore tailored jackets trimmed with leopard skin! He may have forsaken his old “Glam” look but he still had sartorial elegance in abundance. The next single of the year was a real cracker! ”I Love To Boogie”, released in June, shot into the charts and was one of the summer tunes in the long hot summer of ’76.
Yet another image change portrayed Marc as a short haired rocker- a look that owed much to his early 60’s style - and the single reached number 13 in June. The song owed a great deal to the old rockabilly tune “Teenage Boogie”, which Marc denied (at the time!) but nevertheless still had the Bolan touch to add that little extra “oomph”. It proved that Marc still had what it took to deliver the goods and he promoted it on TOTP, much to the delight of the fans. On the back of the success, Supersonic producer Mike Mansfield signed Marc for a TV special and the “Rollin’ Bolan” special was duly recorded at Wimbledon in July and broadcast on television in August. T.Rex were the hosts for the show and played a selection of old and new songs to the enthralled audience. Marc looked fantastic in his short-sleeved jacket, short hair and delicate make-up and the band was red-hot.
New band member Miller Anderson’s guitar added a new dimension to the T.Rex sound and Marc was able to give it his all alongside Millers fret-work. On a roll, “Laser Love” was released the following September but a slightly lacklustre production let the single down and once again a T.Rex single missed the top 40 , reaching the no 41 position. Had the production been just that little bit more powerful, just that little more spirited, then it would have done better. Even an appearance on TOTP with Marc sporting another(!!!) image change failed to help its chart climb. Looking like a cross between a pimp and a 1930’s matinee idol Marc punked his way through the song but the public were unmoved and the single failed to climb higher. After a T.Rex career of almost 6 years Steve Currie then left the band, as did drummer Davey Lutton, and were replaced by top session musicians Herbie Flowers and Tony Newman. This new T.Rex was perhaps the most musically proficient of all the bands line-ups and Marc proudly proclaimed the fact to the media and to anyone else who would listen!
1977 looked promising and was all set to become a good year for T-Rex. It began interestingly with the single release of “To Know You Is To Love You”, a duet by Marc and Gloria reviving the old “Teddy Bears” classic for a new audience. It was lovely performance but it was largely ignored outside of the Bolan Fraternity and missed the charts, although a touching and amusing appearance on “Supersonic” did expose it to the world in general.
Marc’s media profile increased greatly throughout the year as Melody Maker and also Record Mirror recruited him to write articles, during which he mused about fellow artistes, the music scene, and world affairs in general. Rejuvenated by the burgeoning punk scene and the success of the previous year’s discs, Marc planned his new assault for 1977. Recruiting up and coming punk band “The Damned” as his support act the new T.Rex went out on tour across Britain and played to fanatical, enthusiastic crowds. By taking “The Damned” on tour Marc ensured that a whole new audience were exposed to his music and the critical acclaim and the audience reaction were equal in their thumbs-up acceptance. Hot on the heels of the tour’s launch date came the “Dandy In The Underworld” album which was released with a fanfare, and a party for music industry people, at the respected London punk club “The Roxy”.
Anyone who was anyone in the music business attended and the party garnered much publicity for the album that broke into the UK Top Thirty album charts at no 26. A strong album indeed it showed once and for all that Marc Bolan was on the up and that he was back! Reviews for the album were the best for years and it was evident that a resurgence of energy had powered up Marc’s music. The single, “Soul Of My Suit”, taken from the album, was an atmospheric joy and gave Marc what turned out to be his last appearance on TOTP. Once again the single mysteriously stalled just outside of the top 40 but further appearances on “Supersonic” and “Get It Together” pleased the fans, as did a follow up single “Dandy In The Underworld” which also saw Marc appear on “Get It Together” to promote it. A very strong song, “Dandy” had been re-recorded to take out the drug related line that had been on the album version in an attempt to allow radio play. Oddly the single did not make the BBC play list anyway and the epic single, which had echoes of “Teenage Dream” within it, sunk without trace and was the first non-chart single for T.Rex since 1970.
However, things were still in the ascendant for Marc as in August 1977 he hosted his own television series called the 'Marc' shows for Granada TV. Recorded in Manchester the shows were instrumental in exposing many new wave bands to Britain’s youth and bands such as The Jam, The Boomtown Rats, Generation X and the like enjoyed mass exposure via the shows. Marc and T.Rex – now minus Miller Anderson – performed a selection of classic tracks as well as new songs for the series and acted as host for the shows. A power packed single called “Celebrate Summer” was unleashed during the show’s run and enjoyed prime-time exposure each week. Bafflingly the single didn’t chart although whether it would have eventually done so had later circumstances been different is open to speculation. To Marc’s great satisfaction the show was such a success that plans were made for a second series and a second British tour was also proposed for later that year. He was on a high and things were really going well for him. “Summer’s not a bummer, it’s a stunner and it’s now!” he proclaimed. However, fate has a habit of taking things in hand and getting in the way…..
On the evening of September 15th 1977, Marc and Gloria visited Mortons Club in London where they enjoyed an evening of conviviality with friends. Leaving in the early hours of the morning of 16th September, they made the fateful decision to drive themselves home rather than get a taxi or ask for a lift from friends. Gloria drove the mini homeward but whilst driving along Barnes Common it is likely that a combination of low-lying, dense ground-mist, tiredness, and a badly fitted front wheel, contributed to an accident causing Gloria to lose control of the car as they passed over a hump-backed bridge at around 5.00 am. Careering into a tree situated just around the curve of the road the mini stood no chance and Marc, sitting in the front passenger seat, bore the brunt of the impact and was killed instantly. Gloria suffered serious injuries herself and spent many days in Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, unaware that the love of her life, the father of her child Rolan, was gone. Ironically the car was only a short distance from their home in East Sheen Upper Richmond Road Wes South West London.
The world woke that Friday morning to the awful news that 4 weeks on exactly from losing Elvis Presley it had lost Marc too. Fans were in shock and the world was once again rocked on its feet. Newspapers, television and radio all reported articles on Marc’s and his name was on the lips of everyone. It was just too awful to take in.
Marc’s family lost a much- loved member. Fans lost their idol, June lost her estranged husband (They never divorced), The music world lost a true star and great innovator. Things were never to be the same again.
Marc Played on David Bowie's Prettiest Star, ELO's Ma Ma Ma , Belle, Ike And Tina Turner's Sexy Ida though it is rumoured he also played on Nutbush City Limits and many more.........
He would have loved that fans today are still celebrating his music and life and that the Anniversary of his passing is recognised at Golder's Green and at his Shrine in Barnes, where he passed away on that tragic morning, every year since his death. "Baby I was born to boogie, spend some time with you, wanna do what I wanna do”
MARC BOLAN, POET, MUSICIAN, GUITARIST T-REX, FOUNDER OF GLAM, GODFATHER OF PUNK AND A PRETTY DANDY BOY.
SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO ROCK....... they do, they really do!
A group to share pictures, videos, stories, knowledge, music history, events, meet ups, people you got to know at the tree. Make Bolan friends and general chat about the main man.