Born Mark Feld on 30 September 1947 at Hackney Hospital, the son of Phyllis Winifred (née Atkins) and Simeon Feld, a lorry driver. Was inspired to get into Rock and Roll by the likes of Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry.
Before becoming Marc Bolan he had the stage name Toby Tyler when he met and moved in with child actor Allan Warren. He signed to Decca Records in August 1965. At this point his name changed to Marc Bolan via Marc Bowland. There are several accounts of why Bolan was chosen, including that it was derived from James Bolam, a contraction of Bob Dylan, and – according to Bolan himself, that Decca Records chose the name.
He recorded his debut single “The Wizard”,with session musicians playing all the instruments. “The Wizard”, Bolan’s first single, was released on 19 November 1965. It featured Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan
Whilst Marc was alive he recorded and released twelve studio albums Made a film ‘Born To Boogie’ and a tv series. He was there at the birth of punk and was happy to take The Damned out on tour with him. When people think of Glam rock and I mean real Glam rock, not the insipid tripe that came in the ’80s I mean real flamboyant Glam Rocks with great songs by the bucket load and Album after Album that shaped the ’70s and became a staple of TOTP and had kids fainting all around the UK at the sight of his flowing curls and glitter eye shadow.
In ’71 he released ‘Electric Warrior’ that spawned ‘Jeepster’ and ‘Get It On’. The band consisted of Mickey Finn, Steve Currie and Bill Legend. It was followed up a year later with the awesome ‘The Slider’ that spawned the hits ‘Metal Guru’ and ‘Telegram Sam’ then to complete the Hattrick the band released ‘Tanx’ but the biggest hit was ’20th Century Boy’ which didn’t make the album and was recorded in Japan whilst on tour.
Bolan recorded a further six albums before driving his Mini 1275GT driven by Gloria Jones as the pair headed home from Mortons drinking club and restaurant in Berkeley Square. After crossing a small humpback bridge near Gipsy Lane on Queens Ride, Barnes, southwest London, the car struck a fence post and then a tree. Bolan was killed instantly, while Jones suffered a broken arm and broken jaw. There is a memorial where the crash happened where fans leave all sorts of notes, flowers and messages. Bolan was survived by a son Rolan Bolan who recently recorded a video for 20th Century Boy Which we featured last week at RPM.
T rex as well as releasing some Twelve awesome albums also managed to knock out a paltry Twenty Nine singles From ‘Deborah’ in ’68 to a posthumous release of ’20th Century Boy’ that reached number 13. 71 to 73 was the purple patch with no less than four number-one singles inc ‘Hot Love’, Three number twos and several top-fives. T Rex and Bolan really were at the top of their game with chart success second none. Still an influence on bands and songwriters today Bolan will always be a legend and he might well be gone but he’s most certainly not forgotten.