Illustration: Norbert Cieslik

It’s ironic that BBC Radio 1 shares the same birthday with the late Marc Bolan: September 30th. However, Marc is the elder national institution by 20 years (b.1947), and he was just 20 years old in 1967 when he began to make appearances on the newly-born broadcasting frequency during his time with the bands of ‘John’s Children’ and ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’, and then years later with the commercial rock and pop phenomenon known as ‘T.Rex’. Further irony played a part during this early period too when the BBC actually banned the ‘John’s Children’ song, ‘Desdemona’ (written by Bolan) due to a controversial theme underscored by a lyric. Nevertheless, the ‘natural born poet’ had plenty more words to choose from within his own ‘dictionary’ of the ‘creative self’ and certainly wasn’t deterred from continuing with his artform. Afterall, he had already released several 45rpm singles to his own name credit leading up to this period, albeit none of them successfully-acclaimed. However, by the dawn of his 21st birthday in 1968 things had changed considerably for Marc Bolan – both musically and poetically, and in his own dreamy landscape of melodious verse, the two themes were ‘soulmates’ channeled through one distinctive voice…

The Wizard

“The Wizard”: 1st Single

The former Mark Feld is a very difficult ‘enigma’ to decipher and label. Not that anybody should actually feel the need to ‘label’ him, but the ambiguity of this enigma alone serves as his genius. The fantasy mix of Tolkien and Lewis combined to stir his own myths which also led him eventually to his own best-selling “Warlock of Love”. The knowledge and inspiration of the early rockabilly of Presley, Cochran and Berry that poured forth onto his own musically instinctive palette along with the songwriting and folk-inspired anthems of Bob Dylan, set the premise for something he forever craved. And in the early years after a slight stumble with a makeshift ‘electric’ band (post-‘John’s Children’) he found the channel of reinvention through which to convey his new voice of acoustic whimsical ‘hippy theatre’: the psychedelic landscape of London’s underground music scene – the sights and sounds of a continuous avantgarde development – pre-‘Woodstock’ and with an indirect cultural nexus but very much of the same musically-inspired generation …


Photo: Jorgen Angel Photography

Marc Bolan became the epitome of a youth that held a desire to contribute his own verse of text to the world in both musical and poetical terms, which happened as a consequence of ‘learning a living’ as a sharp-looking London ‘Mod’ about town; he eventually preferred to be ‘earning a living’ by tapping into the creative forces and influences that lay dormant for a while during his early teen period. Furthermore, his mind became a ‘sponge’ of society’s events and surroundings, and through its culture he reinvented himself, and his music, several times through the years. He discovered that life didn’t necessarily have any barriers and if any were to be met, then they were defined as mere obstacles he could walk around.

The aim of this Bolan Birthday tribute is to present a selection of great musical highlights and perspectives – some quite rare, and ones which will offer an insight into the outcomes of his musical arsenal. Marc was a creative genius who is adored by generations and moreso the one he ushered in during the ‘Glam Rock’ era of the early 1970’s: “T.Rextasy”! Personally, I always felt the use of the ‘glam’ phrase somewhat undermined the significance of Marc’s musical achievements in the rock genre; the media had declared the phrase as the musical image of the times – albeit one that Marc’s name would be forever connected in a pioneering-sense of association. Nevertheless, he was technically paying homage to the ‘big bang’ of music from an earlier time – it was, afterall, still Rock ‘n’ Roll as we know it! However, before we arrive at the “glam” seventies, lets experience a taste of the earlier psychedelic-acoustic Marc Bolan along with percussionist Steve Peregrin Took – the duo known as ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ with their very first album in 1968: “My people were fair and had sky in their hair…But now they’re content to wear stars on their brows”


The following is a poem which was influenced by the idea of Marc undertaking the creative process of one of his early psychedelic-folk compositions which was about to experience a radical change in movement. The formatting of the text represents a whimsical free-flowing style in lighter contrast to the style of the ‘heavier’ electric compositions of T.Rex. This is “BOLAN!”Part I:

Bolan! I

Here is the follow-up which depicts the beginning of ‘T.Rextasy’ and the switch to electric for Marc and the band’s attack on the commercial pop market. This poem was crafted as a deliberate rhyme moreso than the first poem in order to reflect the more commercial appeal of T.Rex’s major transitional period. The text is formatted in bold to represent the prominent outcome of this switch in style. This is “BOLAN!”Part II:

Bolan! II

The name change from ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ to the simplified ‘T.Rex’ in 1970 became the first part of the transition into electric rock ‘n’ roll. Having introduced new percussionist Mickey Finn into the creative realm on the “A Beard of Stars” album, Marc was on the look out to expand the duo format of the band and consequently the overall sound. This was soon achieved and the transition was complete: the hit singles were soon in abundance beginning with ‘Ride A White Swan’ and classic critically-acclaimed albums such as ‘T.Rex’ (1970), ‘Electric Warrior’ (1971) and ‘The Slider’ (1972) reinforced Marc’s musical vision and development which aided the god-like appraisal he was being given, not only by his fans, but by the more regal figures in Rock ‘n’ Roll music. One such figure was Ringo Starr, and this such praise culminated in the birth of “Born To Boogie”

Just prior to filming “Born To Boogie” in early 1972, T.Rex achieved their 3rd UK No.1 in the form of “Telegram Sam” – a very popular favourite amongst the ‘Bolanmania’ elite with its lyrical illustrations of pop culture elements and expressions including a reference to Bolan’s very own ‘corkscrew hair’. It’s a great song, but considerably underrated, with its infusion of Beatles-like string bursts combined with an emphasis on an uptempo blues texture. The hit single was the first to be released on Marc’s new ‘T.Rex Wax Co.’ label and maintained his policy of giving the fans and record-buying public value for their money with the inclusion of 2 tracks on the ‘B’ side of the single. In this case it was then-unreleased song, ‘Cadilac’ (spelt with one ‘l’ in the middle) and ‘Baby Strange’ from ‘The Slider’ LP…

Telegram Sam T-Rex“Top of the Pops” performance, 1971:

The following features two individual videos of two startling live performances of the same song. Each one holds its own merit and are both spectacular interpretations. The earliest one is when T.Rex staged two sell-out concerts at the Empire Pool, Wembley on March 18th, 1972 and both were filmed for the “Born To Boogie” documentary. Presented here is “Jeepster” from the evening show and also included in the concert film. It’s a fine performance combining Marc’s masterful guitar skills and showmanship as he stokes a hot fire of adulation, lick after lick, and his expressions tell a story in their own right…

The following live version of ‘Jeepster’ is really something to behold! This is over a year later in the US, and considering that he never thoroughly established himself across the Atlantic, the audience are totally in awe of the delivery of his performance. What we see here is a further expansion of T.Rex which also includes Gloria Jones – Marc’s future partner and the mother of his son, Rolan. This is the height of the ‘Glam’ era and Marc is excessively kitted-out, but somehow the ‘spectacle’ all appears to shine appropriately; his guitar work is ‘bleeding’ with added panache and skillful control – it’s a wonderful performance which truly deserves the ovation:

“It was like being jealous of your best girlfriend,” Cilla Black later recalled. “He had everything – the hair, the eyes, the makeup, the glam. The worrying thing was you did kind of fancy him – being this feminine-looking guy. But then you had the music as well, both things together, and the combination was unbelievable.” (Source: The Guardian)
In January, 1973 T.Rex appeared on the BBC’s “Cilla Black show” and after performing the song “Mad Donna” from the ‘Tanx’ album, Marc picked up his acoustic guitar for a seated duet with his host(ess). It’s another iconic moment in the life and career of Marc Bolan and it’s also one of those rare unlikely collaborations that shouldn’t really have worked, but it’s quite obvious that both stars have a mutual respect for each other. It’s both fantastic and fascinating especially when you put into context Cilla’s statement above with her expressions on screen. Enjoy this stripped-down and inspired reading of ‘Life’s A Gas’ – the ‘B’ side of ‘Jeepster’…

Originally from ‘The Slider’ album but performed live here on the German TV show ‘Musikladen’. It’s a heavy delivery ignited with sensual overtones to the max. A performance that is driven by Marc’s command of the throbbing rhythm, thrashing lead and intricate solos; the band’s prowess as a tight unit is undeniable. This is great viewing – a totally awe-inspiring execution…

After pulling through the traumas of further excesses encountered whilst trying to push T.Rex to the wider audience regions of America,  including the break-up of his marriage, the mid-70’s became an intense period of reflection and reevaluation for Marc Bolan. Considerable changes began to take place during the creation of several soul-inspired pieces of music with partner, Gloria Jones in collaborative support. Then, with the birth of their son in September, 1975 his outlook was further transformed and his creative inspiration began to flourish once again in view of the pop market and a newfound family lifestyle. The live appearances took on a more back to basics structure but maintaining an inventiveness for new sounds and direction. It was through this outlook and approach that Marc began to champion the expressive sound of the Punk rock movement – or ‘New Wave’ sound as he mainly referred to it. In 1977 he was back touring and in keeping with current musical trends of the time he ensured that ‘The Damned’ were in support. Here for your listening pleasure is a live concert showcase at the Rainbow Theatre, London in March, ’77 with some interesting extras…

Live 1977

The makings of a successful career resurgence was definitely in place by the summer of ’77 when Marc was presented with the opportunity to host his very own television series named after him. The series would include the then-current lineup of T.Rex along with female dance troupe, ‘Heart-Throb’ as regular guests.  By this time Marc was referred to as the ‘Godfather of Punk’ and his guests included several of the bands who were part of the Punk ‘revolution’: The Jam, Generation X, and The Boomtown Rats. The show also gave T.Rex the chance to specially re-record some of their greatest hits of which Marc’s performances revelled in the ‘campiness’ of the moment which made for a very entertaining 25-minute format. The final episode also featured him reunited with his old musical buddy, David Bowie“MARC” was broadcast in a midweek afternoon teatime slot and is very sadly the final piece of the musical legacy of Marc Bolan. The 4th episode of the 6-episode series was broadcast just two days before his tragic death occurred near Barnes Common in the early morning of September 16th, 1977. The following is the finale of that 4th episode and a live vocal rendering of the title song to his then-recent hit album, “Dandy In The Underworld”…RIP Marc…

"MARC" TV Show - 1977

“MARC” TV Show – 1977

Cosmic Dwellings do not own the copyright to the image/likeness/music/videos of Marc Bolan and T.Rex. The written content and style in this not-for-profit article is owned by this blog website. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2014 Cosmic Dwellings.

About Cosmic Dwellings

'Cosmic Dwellings' is a social media network consisting of a fine mix of retro rock and pop music, a radio drama production, an ebook serial and several works of poetry and lyrical prose.
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