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|Marc Bolan/Early T-Rex Biography
Marc Bolan was, along with David Bowie and Elton John, the most gifted figure of the glam rock era. Yes, some of his lyrics were a bit strange, and his wailing vocal style even stranger, but Bolan had charisma and talent in spades.
Real name Mark Feld, Bolan was born on July 30th, 1947, in London. The young Marc Bolan went through the trends of the '60s music - from mod to psychedelia, and his first single was as early as 1966. Entitled 'The Wizard' it gave a clue as to Marc's future direction. He joined John's Children, and 'Desdemona' was a notable early example of Bolan's unusual vocal style (albeit not on lead vocal).
Later in the 1960s, Bolan formed Tyrannosaurus Rex with Steve Took, and the acoustic 'Debora' was a sure sign of Bolan's songwriting talents. Though he sometimes got lost in pretentiousness, with the longest album title of any great artist ever, viz. the 1968 album, 'My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair... But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows'. Bolan was also struggling financially for a time, and had to be content with his £12 acoustic guitar, but 'My People Were Fair...' reached as high as 15 in the UK albums chart in 1968. While 'Debora' and 'One Inch Rock' made the top 40 UK singles chart, so Bolan was now semi-famous by the end of the year.
Tyrannosaurus Rex were underground darlings, and British DJ cum music icon John Peel became a big fan of the group, whose basic elements were Marc Bolan on guitar and vocals, and Steve Took on bongos. Peel, in fact, acted as the group's driver sometimes and read out some of Marc's stories on albums.
Bolan's considerable ego began to surface, when Took wanted some of his own songs included on Tyrannosaurus Rex albums. Took was also 'into' the hardcore alternative/underground/anarchistic scene of the late '60s, whereas Bolan was more for the quiet life. When Steve Took gave two of Marc's songs for Twink's 'Think Pink' album, a parting of the ways was inevitable. A tour of America proved to be a last, sad, final fling for the duo, moreso as they were billed alongside hard rock acts.
Mickey Finn replaced Took on bongos (it's too be remembered that bongos were considered quite a 'cool' instrument with the hippie crowd of this era), and was more malleable than Took. The final Tyrannosaurus Rex album, 'A Beard Of Stars', just failed to make the UK top 20 albums chart, unlike previous albums 'Unicorn' and 'My People Were Fair...'. The 1969 single, 'King Of The Rumbling Spires', which included Took, had been a minor hit for Tyrannosaurus Rex, and had seen Bolan use an electrified rock sound. The time seemed right for a change of tack. Consequently, Bolan changed from acoustic to electric guitar - something he had always wanted to do anyway, but had been hampered by lack of money for both instruments and amps. Bolan's book of poetry, 'The Warlock Of Love', made him a best-selling poet around this time, but music would soon really take all his attention. Legendary American producer Tony Visconti became the band's producer, and, allegedly, shortened the group's name to T-Rex. The song and album titles became shorter, so Bolan was, with Visconti's help, reinventing himself. 1970 saw hippie poet folkie Marc Bolan become a fully fledged glam rock superstar.
T-Rex released 'Ride A White Swan', an uplifting, wistful pop song, which included Bolan's trademark whimsical lyrics (that, at least, was a facet of Marc's songs which remained in place). It reached number two late in 1970, and from then on T-Rex and Bolan had an astonishing run of five successive UK number one singles - 'Hot Love', 'Get It On', 'Jeepster', 'Telegram Sam', and 'Metal Guru' (all produced by Visconti). Bolan also became a teen icon, adorning young girls magazines, and Britain hadn't seen the like since Beatlemania.
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
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