Top Mod: Marc Bolan’s Cosmic Dance 40 years on – The Seven Phases of T Rex

Seven stages of Mark Bolan’s career to mark the 40th anniversary of the King of Hackney’s death.

Today brings one of rock’s saddest anniversaries – the day more music died with unmitigated genius Marc Bolan, near Gipsy Lane in Barnes. And fearing a premature death he never learned to drive… Cars, death, the fantastical and fatalistic permeated Bolan’s poetic lyrics throughout his career. From the rise of the bongo-fulled early Tyrannosaurus Rex to the end of the sixties and the bold, visionary step back to Bolan’s  ’50s heroes that unlocked glam. Leading up to today’s anniversary, for seven days I’ve published seven phases of Bolan’s short, blistering and utterly glam career leading up to his early death at 29.

And limiting it to seven was tricky…

Phase 1: Tyrannosaurus Rex roars to the end of the 1960s

Debora (1968), the band’s first single performed by the regenerated T-Rex for the BBC in 1970.

Phase 2: The bird flies in

T-Rex emerges with Ride a White Swan (1970), herald of Glam Rock.

Phase 3: Sliding

The Slider (1972), the vinyl Long Play container of my most-of-the-time-all-time-a-lot-of-the-time favourite T Rex…

Phase 4: The singles era, 1972 – 1973

From Children of the Revolution to Truck on (Tyke), the songs without an LP home that set the legend. And in the middle, Twentieth Century Boy (Visconti 2012 remaster) #Course

Phase 5: The disco diversion

A short-lived era that brought us T Rex Disco Party and Dreamy Lady (1975)

Phase 6: Marc

Marc was the The Marc Bolan television show that promoted the Jam, Eddie and the Hot Rods and more, but would never get a second series. A final act, where he promoted from the punk era, having leapt back from despair and And when he fell off the stage. “Could we have a wooden box for Marc [to stand on]?”

Phase 7: The Afterlife: Cosmic Dancer

And then he died of course, a fortnight before his 30th birthday, in a Mini, in Barnes – something he foresaw. When Napier-Bell, his manager, warned him of revering James Dean because he might end up dying in a Porsche, Bolan apparently replied: “I’m just tiny, I’d like to die in a Mini.” (Sam Wollaston, The Guardian)

“I danced myself into the tomb. Is it strange to dance so soon?” Yep.

Phase supplemental – Children of the Revolution

Had to end on a brighter note – Ringo and Marc used to hang out a fair bit. The Beatle shot the iconic cover for The Slider LP (required listening today – below) and dressed as a clown. Not happily. #IT

Elton kept Bolan in a  piano for the opening bars of every song in the early 1970s. They worked best with stuffed animals and a giant toothbrush – and I don’t mean the other members of T Rex (features stunning taxidermic montage).



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