Black curls. Black eye shadow. Sparkling jackets and bright lapels. Feather boas, scarfs, glitter, and possibly the softest voice in rock ‘n roll.

When Bolan stepped out onstage in March of 1971 – during an appearance on Top of the Pops – the world stood still. As he led his band, T.Rex into a performance of their latest single, ‘Hot Love’, in a tight silver jumpsuit and glitter sparkles under each eye, he gave birth to what would become glam rock. Other bands followed in Bolan’s footsteps and reaped their own success; from an early Bowie to fellow British-born outfits Slade and The Sweet. But T.Rex started it all. And it started with Bolan.

Marc Bolan of T Rex performing on Top of the Pops (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

Bolan.

Born Mark Feld in 1947, Bolan found company in rock ‘n roll at a young age, devouring the works of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry, at the age of nine picking up a guitar for the first time, and starting a skiffle band. At 15, he was excluded from school and sought a future in modelling – appearing in a clothing catalogue for menswear. After recording a track for a commercial, Bolan found his second manager, Allan Warren, and briefly changed his name to Toby Tyler.

Warren allowed a future Bolan a window into the music industry; and after a lengthy period of silence (when Warren sold his contract and Bolan’s earliest recordings to his landlord in lieu of three months’ rent) he signed to Decca Records in 1965. He was Marc Bowland. Then Marc Bolan. The exact reason for the name change is disputed; but generally accepted as a contraction of Bob Dylan, his idol at the time.

The following year, Bolan turned up at the residence of Simon Napier-Bell, manager and producer of the Yardbirds (who would eventually team up with the likes of Japan, Ultravox and Wham!). Bolan had a six-string in his hand, and the dream of being a rock ‘n roll star, if given half the chance. Napier-Bell listened to some of the aspiring star’s material (including Bolan’s first single, ‘The Wizard’, which featured Jimmy Page of Zeppelin fame) and the rest just followed. Bolan was slotted into another of Napier-Bell’s bands, John’s Children – famed for their energetic live performances – in part to his impressive songwriting.

Bolan’s tenure with John’s Children, however, would be short-lived. An ill-fated tour with fellow rockers, The Who, spelled the end for the band, being deemed ‘too loud and violent’ by guitarist Pete Townshend. But though Bolan was without a band to provide electric stimulation, he wasn’t without distraction. It was at this time that the London-bred boy would lose himself in the fantastical imagery and poetry which would later shape – and define – T.Rex’s sound. Bolan began work on two novels; The Krakenmist and Pictures of Purple People, and supposedly visited a real-life wizard in Paris, whom could levitate. Strangely enough, that really is a simple footnote in the quickfire career of Marc Bolan.

Bolan had not turned his back on the calling of music and baying crowds forever. Unphased by the break-up of his previous band, he joined up with guitarist Ben Cartland and drummer Steve Peregrin Took (whose name derived from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings) and gave themselves a name. Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Wielder of Words – The Early Years.

The band’s first gig was, by all accounts, a disaster. As the story goes, Bolan was still interviewing potential musicians for the band just hours before the concert started and was booed off-stage when it all went wrong. His confidence bruised, Bolan whittled Tyrannosaurus Rex down to just himself and Took; turning their back on outrageous electric rock for the next several years, and instead embracing a kind of mix between psychedelia and folk. Bolan would later recall the lack of band equipment as the reason for his pursuit of the calmer acoustic – but Napier-Bell insisted it was due to the turmoil of their first, electric gig.

Either way, with Bolan’s songs, voice, and strings – coupled with Took on drums and occasional bass – Tyrannosaurus Rex persevered, releasing their first album in 1968, titled, simply: My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars On Their Brows. It reached number fifteen in the charts, home to gentle folk-rock in the album’s opener, ‘Hot Rod Mama’ and ‘Strange Orchestras’. Bolan’s gentle, storyteller-like voice seemed natural for tales of far-distant fantasy lands, but could prove fierce in tracks like ‘Dwarfish Trumpet Blues’, as well as the record’s closer, ‘Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)’ – which featured a lengthy Hare Krishna and one of Bolan’s short stories read out by British DJ, John Peel. Peel would prove vital in the genesis of Rex’s career, supporting the group with significant airplay (famously, however, he and Bolan fell out after Peel made clear his disdain for the band’s future number one, ‘Get It On’). For a debut album of a major band, Tyrannosaurus Rex’s was, it must be said, lackluster – though not without its fleeting moments of interest.

Singer and guitarist Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took (1949 – 1980) of Tyrannosaurus Rex backstage at the Woburn Music Festival held at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, England on July 06, 1968. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Shortly after, the band released their first standalone single, ‘Debora’, which reached 34 in the charts and heralded what was to come; with increasing ferocity in the acoustic guitar and more of Bolan’s trademark soft ‘wail’. It’s a staggeringly good track; especially given how early in the group’s career it emerged.

The band’s sophomore record, 1968’s Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels of the Ages, failed to chart at all, but proved home to more psychedelic-folk tunes in ‘Aznagel the Mage’, ‘Eastern Spell’ and ‘The Travelling Tragition’. Also notable, however, are the album’s opener – ‘Deboraarobed’; their first single played and then reversed again (because it’s kooky, man) – and closer – ‘Scenescof Dynasty’, proving a four-minute fantasy epic with Bolan preaching about gorgons, dragons and fated magic scrolls, accompanied only by the handclaps of Took behind him. It’s an enthralling listen for the average Dungeons n’ Dragons player, but little more for followers of rock music. That same year, Tyrannousarus Rex released their next single, ‘One Inch Rock’.

Unicorn, the band’s third studio effort, would be the last to feature Took (fired for insisting on using his own material for their next album, after the group’s first American tour), but still found itself packed with the now-trademark Bolan fantasyscapes in tracks such as ‘The Sea Beasts’ and ‘The Pilgrim’s Tale’. Unlike their previous two albums, however, Unicorn had bigger moments of climax and oomph in their tracks, with ‘Like A White Star, Tangled and Fair, Tulip That’s What You Are’ and ‘Iscariot’ building over the course of the song. Nevertheless, Bolan found gentler solace in the titular ‘She Was Born to Be My Unicorn’. The third album is often cited as the breakthrough for most big bands, but with Unicorn featuring much of the same, it didn’t do amazingly, peaking at number 12 in the charts.

One of the two singles to originate from the album was ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’, signaling a foreshadowing in electric sound and punchy drumbeat. For those into the rough and raucous side of Bolan’s career, I recommend this as the starting point.

If Sheer Heart Attack was when Queen found their feet sonically, and Sweet Funny Adams marked the point in Sweet’s career when they left behind bubblegum pop, then Tyrannosaurus Rex’s fourth album, A Beard of Stars, was their turning point. Armed with new musical partner Mickey Finn on percussion (sharing bass duties on the album), Bolan took up the electric six-string again, at long last, and his fate as future rock god was sealed. Although it still had its fair sure of psychedelia and folk, A Beard of Stars sound has shifted from what had come before. Even from the opener, aptly-titled Prelude, it was obvious that Bolan was taking the group in an entirely new direction, with its fusion of bluesy riff and folky dreamtime feel – echoing something of an early Queen. The album’s third track, ‘Woodland Bop’, in particular, is the first real taste of what’s to come in the next iteration of Bolan’s band; with its closer, ‘Elemental Child’ bringing a Hendrix-inspired riff to fruition.

T! R! E! X! – The Halcyon Years.

Tyrannosaurus Rex , circa 1970. (Photo by Peter Sanders/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Marrying his girlfriend in the turn of the 1970s, the future was looking bright for a young Bolan; reaching out musically and buying a modified Les Paul – finding itself in the annals of rock ‘n roll history on the cover of T.Rex’s debut – before writing the now-legendary single, ‘Ride A White Swan’ – featuring guitar unlike anything I’ve ever heard since It’s a perfect slice of classic rock. For many, this was their introduction to Marc Bolan, and the birth of T.Rex. Huzzah.

The steady success of ‘Ride A White Swan’ gave way to the band’s eponymous debut, with more emphasis on a (still minimal) electric rock sound, manned once more by Bolan and Finn, and an addition of strings (For example in the track, ‘Diamond Meadows’) that would prove a mainstay of old and new. Perhaps the best example of this is on the album’s ‘Beltane Walk’, with an increasing string crescendo and piercing guitarwork accompanying Bolan throughout, marking a highlight of the band’s early career. With Bolan’s ad-lib scat and fearsome rasps on ‘Is It Love?’ and an electric reworking of his earlier ‘The Wizard’, it also set the scene for a sexually charismatic frontman, now clad in familiar top hats and feather boas. The glam look was evolving, and with it the scene that increasingly enticed friend – and chart rival – David Bowie.

T.Rex followed their debut with ‘Hot Love’, a nigh-five minute boogie with subtle guitar backing and playful lyrics from Bolan. The song was an instant success, proving the band’s first number one single, and when the group stepped out onstage – on Britain’s Top of the Pops in March of 1971it proved glam was here to stay. ‘Hot Love’ is, to me, what Ziggy Stardust is to Bowie fans; just sublime. The single’s B-sides, ‘Woodland Rock’ and ‘The King of the Mountain Cometh’ were an eclectic mix of electric blues and boogie; reflecting how far Bolan had come from the folky psychedelia of yesteryear.

Bolan on 23rd March 1971. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

‘Get It On’ – The band’s signature – followed, spending four weeks at number one ahead of T.Rex’s next studio release. If the group’s first two singles and debut were the foundations of success, then 1971’s Electric Warrior was the five-story mansion built upon it. Cited as the first glam rock album, it hit the charts either side of the pond and subsequently found its way into countless ‘Greatest Albums’ lists. Bolan himself confessed, ‘I think Electric Warrior, for me, is the first album which is a statement of 1971 for us in England. I mean that’s… If anyone ever wanted to know why we were big in the other part of the world, that album says it, for me.’. ‘Jeepster’, ‘The Motivator’ and ‘Rip Off’ demonstrated the band’s rough, swaggering edge, while ‘Cosmic Dancer’ and ‘Life’s A Gas’ showcased how Bolan could stick to his gentler, Tyrannosaurus-tinged roots. The band – now wielding Steve Currie on bass guitar and Bill Legend on drums – were massive, giving rise to the ‘T.Rextasy’ that gripped the nation for the next few years. And rightly so.

Photo of Bolan; performing live onstage playing Gibson Les Paul guitar. (Photo by Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns)

Recorded outside of Paris to avoid British taxing laws, The Slider was T.Rex’s next album; solidifying their newfound success with catchy rock classics in ‘Metal Guru’ and ‘Telegram Sam’. Album tracks ‘Rock On’, ‘Buick Mackane’ and ‘Rabbit Fighter’ were fueled by non-stop electric mastery, leading to the finished record hailed by the likes of Johnny Marr and Gary Numan. Off the back of The Slider’s success and Electric Warrior, the band’s first two albums under the Tyrannosuarus Rex name were released once more as a double record, surging to number one on the UK Albums Chart and giving Bolan’s studio debut the trophy of longest album title to do so. And, I mean, at twenty words long, it’s hardly surprising.

Later that year, singles ‘Children of the Revolution’ and ‘Solid God Easy Action’ were released, following the trend of Bolan’s rejection of conformity and displaying himself in the pursuit of sexual satisfaction; fueling his depiction as a sex icon of the day who was above such mundane trivialities as mortal tradition.

Elton John, Marc Bolan and Ringo Starr having a drink together to promote the film ‘Born To Boogie’ in 1972. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Broken-Hearted Blues – The Waning Years.

1973 saw the final T.Rex album with its classic line-up, Tanx. Though featuring Warrior and Slider riffs in ‘Rapids’ and ‘Shock Rock’, and boogie in ‘Tenement Lady’ and ‘Born to Boogie’, the album employed new instruments used, backing singers, and tracks focusing on funk and soul; a creeping premonition of Bolan’s continuous search for evolving the group’s – or his own – sound.

London, 1973. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

’73 also saw Bolan playing lead guitar aside Jeff Lynne on Electric Light Orchestra’s third album, On the Third Day, notably on the track, ‘Ma-Ma-Ma Belle’, which entered the UK charts. That year saw the releases of two further singles under the T.Rex name, the first of which, ‘20th Century Boy’, featured one of the most deliciously dirty riffs ever put to record. ‘The Groover’ was just as rambunctious, complete with an opening chant of ‘T!’, ‘R!’, ‘E!’, ‘X!’ that gave way to a landslide of no-holds-barred, rock ‘n roll adrenaline.

But, despite it all, the cracks were starting to show in the delicate star-crusted veneer of Bolan. The band’s third single of that year, ‘Truck On (Tyke)’ failed to reach the Top 10 – a now-staple for the rock group – and Bolan’s image as an alluring, immortal guitar god began to fade. The next few years were the worst for T.Rex – and Bolan in particular – plagued again and again by personal and commercial problems. The period saw Bill Legend leave, followed shortly by longtime bandmate Mickey Finn – instrumental in the band’s sound throughout – as well as the collapse of Bolan’s marriage.

Marc Bolan performing with British glam rock group T-Rex, at The Apollo, Glasgow, 22nd January 1974, before his life began a downward spiral. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

T.Rex’s 1974 album, Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow (credited to ‘Marc Bolan & T.Rex’) was almost universally hated; polarizing fans and generally slated by critics and devout followers alike. The band had acquired a second guitarist by now but had been dropped altogether in the US. Zinc Alloy… illustrated Bolan returning somewhat to the group’s late-60s roots, with longer titles and musical complexity – The simple boogie and rock days of Electric Warrior were gone. One single was released to promote the album, ‘Teenage Dream’. Looking back on Zinc Alloy, it’s certainly far from the prime of what T.Rex had to offer; but not all that different from what had come before, in both The Slider and Tanx. It feels like the logical next step from those records for someone like Marc Bolan – but the problem comes in that there was nothing wrong with the finessed formula of simple rock ‘n roll in ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Telegram Sam’, or any of the singles that came after. T.Rex could have continued in that honed sound for the next few years and done well out of it; but Bolan was always more of a caged bird than proud paladin when it came to committing to one sound. It was never enough for him.

T-Rex at The Apollo, Glasgow, 22nd January 1974. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow wasn’t released in the US; instead several of its tracks were compiled along with pieces from the band’s next album to create Light of Love, a States-only release. Nevertheless, with longtime producer for T.Rex, Tony Visconti, having left the scene, Bolan’s own work behind the sound desk was received negatively.

T.Rex’s next endeavor, Bolan’s Zip Gun, fared no better. Only the UK saw it grace their record shops; and though Bolan tried somewhat to take back the Electric Warrior sound of ’72 (‘Think Zinc’ and ‘Zip Gun Boogie’; a single), it didn’t pay off – intent on delivering once more in reflecting the soul scene of the US. Many of the songs from the album were influenced by science-fiction (‘Space Boss, ‘Golden Belt’), but just as the Tolkien-esque fantasy days of Tyrannosaurus Rex were largely ignored, so was …Zip Gun. Although, that’s not strictly true. Bolan’s Zip Gun wasn’t ignored. It actually got a lot of attention. Just… the wrong kind. It was slammed by Bolan’s homeland press for its likeness to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, released three years earlier. And it’s not hard to see why; Bolan became increasingly infatuated with expanding the band’s sound to the point of extreme egotism – trying out new techniques, different genres and going his own way. Whilst also taking the guise of a glitter-wrapped, science-fiction sex god.

This was the lowest point for Bolan, who by now had become increasingly introverted, abandoning vegetarianism and hastily gaining weight; prompting yet more humiliation in the press, and furthering suspicions that he had nothing left to give.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Just Dandy – The Second Coming.

’76 rolled around and what would become the band’s penultimate release, Futuristic Dragon, thankfully, did better. It only reached 50 on the UK Albums Chart, but it was still something. Bolan, however, refused to give up the ever-expanding list of T.Rex’s expeditions into uncharted musical territory; employing sitars (‘Chrome Sitar’) and embracing the oncoming disco scene on ‘Dreamy Lady’. Still, ‘New York City’, ‘My Little Baby’ and ‘Sensation Boulevard’ sounded more like old-school T.Rex, serving Bolan well. The band embarked on a small tour of their homeland and appeared on Top of the Pops.

The year of 1976 marked the second coming of the dinosaurs. T.Rex dropped two singles, ‘I Love To Boogie’ and ‘Laser Love’, showcasing the stripped-down glory days of T.Rex. Both songs bore the quintessential sound of the group; with the former packed full of easy-going groove and simple guitar. ‘Laser Love’, meanwhile, was a selection of fine riffs with Bolan on top form, pulling out all the stops. Both songs iterated the language and general recklessness of a young T.Rex. Bolan had slimmed down and the glam god was back.

(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Dandy in the Underworld, the band’s perhaps foreboding final album, marked 1977 as an important year for rock music. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, ELO’s Out of the Blue, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell and Queen’s News of the World all followed suit. Dandy…’s titular track was an easy-going rock anthem of drugs and teenage restlessness, ‘Crimson Moon’ and ‘Universe’ were packed with sexual flavor (‘We’ll bop over the galaxies, we’ll stroll over to Mars. We’ll romance on Jupiter, make love among the stars’ being the bridge of the latter) and ‘Jason B. Sad’ captured the bluesy energy of ‘Hot Love’. It’s no wonder that Dandy in the Underworld was heralded as the group’s comeback, proving just as digestible as the high points of Electric Warrior, and marking a commercial comeback comparable only to Aerosmith’s in the late 1980s.

1977 also gave us Marc, a six-episode television series composing of Bolan joined onstage by acts old and new alike, performing his songs. The series culminated in a truly special rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, as well as an appearance from Billy Idol in Generation X.

Bolan performing on his Granada Television show, ‘Marc’, Manchester, 23rd August 1977. (Photo by Kevin Cummins/Getty Images)

The 16th of September, however, proved a dark day in T.Rex history, and music as a whole. Bolan’s girlfriend at the time – soul and gospel singer, Gloria Jones; with whom Bolan had produced albums – was driving home from Berkeley Square, her boyfriend in the passenger seat. After the car crossed a small humpback bridge in Southwest London, it struck a fence post, and then a tree. Jones suffered, thankfully, from only a broken arm and jaw. Marc Bolan, however, was killed instantly. He was 29 years old.

His funeral was attended by dear friend Bowie, Tony Visconti, Rod Stewart, and Steve Harley (of Cockney Rebel fame). The site of his fatal crash has since become known as Marc Bolan’s Rock Shrine, beautifully adorned with a bust, plaque, and countless offerings by fans.

The Guide to T.Rex.

Three albums were released following Bolan’s death, either attributed to himself or ‘Marc Bolan & T.Rex’; featuring outtakes, demos for songs that would later be released and new material entirely. They’re definitely worth a listen; even if perhaps the macabre spirit of Bolan’s hand lingers over every track – there is some good stuff, and together provides more insight into the mind of a space-age genius.

Portrait of singer and guitarist Marc Bolan (1947 – 1977) of T-Rex on 19th April 1972. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

And in the name of that man in the thunderbolt suit, I thought I’d try (‘try’ really being the key word, here) to collate a ‘Top Ten’ of T.Rex songs; from stone-cold classics to rip-roaring rockers; stripped-back boogies to tales of faraway kings. And just, to be honest, favourites. But a Top Ten, nonetheless, if you’re yet to dip your toes into the magnificently weird world of Marc Bolan and his music. Or, if you’re a veteran of such a band, something to rekindle that sequined candle.

The Guide to T.Rex: Honourable Mentions.

As with all ‘top tens’, there’s gotta be a few that just don’t make the cut but deserve noting regardless. There are all great tracks from Bolan – he’s just done better. The earliest near miss was ‘Debora’ (1968); a rare entrant from the band’s acoustic days but nonetheless packing the same ferocity and speed of anything since. It’s almost ethereal. ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’ (1969) narrowly missed out, as well as A Beard of Stars’ ‘Woodland Bop’ (1970), Electric Warrior’s ‘Cosmic Dancer’ (1971) and ‘Woodland Rock’ (‘Hot Love’ B-Side, 1971). Both are great efforts, as is ‘Hot Love’s other B-Side, ‘The King of the Mountain Cometh’ (1971), an excellent fantasy-boogie.

‘Solid Gold Easy Action’ (Single, 1972) which proves a rambunctious high-school rocker warrants a listen, The Slider’s ‘Telegram Sam’ (1972) and Tanx’s ‘Rapids’ and ‘Life Is Strange’ missed the list, as did ‘Born to Boogie’ (all from 1973). Futuristic Dragon’s ‘My Little Baby’ (1976), ‘Laser Love’ (Single, 1976) and Dandy in the Underworld’s ‘Universe’ (1977) finish those so cruelly left on the cutting room floor.

And so, without further ado, my Top Ten T.Rex Tracks:

12. Beltane Walk – T.Rex, 1970 – Yes, okay, I am aware that I said ‘ten’ but I spent far longer than is really excusable trying to whittle twelve tracks down to ten. ‘Beltane Walk’s delicate vocals, strings and drumbeat makes it a simple, but effective, hand-clapper and foot-tapper.

11. The Groover – Single, 1973 – Any song that opens with a chant of the band’s name is brave; and just plain expected when the rest delivers. A banging rock anthem that helped cement Bolan’s mark as a formidable warrior on the rock stage.

10. Children of the Revolution – Single, 1972 – What better way to kick off the actual top ten than this track? With its almighty opening riff that kicks and drags and drudges itself across nearly three minutes in a Zeppelin-like fashion? The guitar and string here are something Jeff Lynne would be envious of, and it remains an anthem of youth – as well as the life code for Mr. Bolan himself. Colossal stuff.

9. You Scare Me to Death – You Scare Me to Death, 1981 – It was released after Bolan’s death, and is credited to him solely. But regardless, it’s faster rock than usual, features an ironically-fateful chorus that’s remarkably upbeat, and generally rather catchy.

8. Dandy in the Underworld – Dandy in the Underworld, 1977 – In many ways, the title track from T.Rex’s last album is the group’s quintessential song, with aspects of every album they ever did. It deals with drugs, Hell, and general fantasy tropes that have become synonymous with Bolan’s band, packing a feisty chorus and dramatic horns.

7. Get It On – Electric Warrior, 1971 – ‘Well, you’re built like a car, you got a hubcap diamond star halo…’ will probably go down as some of the most iconic lyrics from T.Rex’s most iconic song. From ‘Get It On’s unmistakable opening riff and continuous rock rhythm throughout, this song shows Bolan the top of his form. Not their very best in my opinion, but still darn close.

6. Metal Guru – The Slider, 1972 – A great rock staple, with ‘wall of guitar’ sound and a simple, headbanging drumbeat. It’s a mixture of all the things that make a stellar T.Rex song, and went on to directly inspire another great track, The Smith’s ‘Panic’ which was released as a single in 1986.

5. Thunderwing – ‘Metal Guru’ B-Side, 1972 – One of the most infectious songs the band have ever done. Distorted guitar, bluesy undertones and the classic schoolboy obsession of a fast car. ‘Thunderwing’s got it all.

4. I Love to Boogie – Single, 1976 – It’s so simple, but soars so high; marking the band returning to former glory. ‘I Love to Boogie’ is a simple boogie ‘n blues track but easy listening all the same. That punchy drumbeat is guaranteed to put you in a good mood and, Bolan, as always, batters away on those trademark growls. It so very nearly reached third place that it might as well be. It depends on the mood.

3. 20th Century Boy – That opening is all I want in a song. That crunchy, almost grungy guitar riff backed with stomping claps. Phenomenal background harmonies. Unforgettable lyrics. ‘20th Century Boy’ builds continuously into something grand; melodic but all the while just the right side of edgy.

2. Ride A White Swan – Like many others, my first taste of T.Rex – this is the song that broke the band in the first place. It also featured in my previous ‘Top Ten Guitar Moments in Rock’ list; that piercing guitar only rivalled by Bolan’s calming cocktail voice of druidic rituals and paganistic imagery.

1. Hot Love – It had to be, for me. There was no way I couldn’t. It’s such easy listening and proves the perfect fusion of simple boogie groove and rock to me. This tale about Bolan’s ‘two-penny prince’ transcends into something else us mere mortals could never begin to understand. The verses are catchy, the Elvis-esque ‘Uh, huh-huh’s are infectious and by the end it’s a grand choir of cheap-but-timeless ‘La-la-la-la-la-la-la’s. Flawless. Also the song that ultimately led Bolan to appear on Top of the Pops and start a glam ‘n glitter revolution.

The Legacy of a Cosmic Dancer.

The glitter god at a hotel in Tokyo, November 1973. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

‘The thing about success, certainly in the rock’n’roll business, is that it gives you an incredible amount, but what it takes away is irreplaceable and sometimes I get a funny feeling that I shan’t be here very long.’ – Marc Bolan.

And though he was right, though he was taken too soon, Bolan left an extraordinary mark on the face of music. Even at the beginning of Tyrannousarus Rex, he was ahead of his era – a 21st century boy out of time; penning fantasy epics of Tolkien proportions in two-minute chunks; crafting poetry, novels, and living up to the ever-sparkling image of a glitter-bound deity. Bolan went from swords and dragons to ray guns and spacesuits in the bat of an eye; appearing onstage in every shimmering form between. Sometimes it paid off commercially, sometimes it didn’t. But though Bolan suffered in the backlashes and the criticism, I don’t think he ever really cared. He was simply a gentle soul, with a kind heart, and a brain full of wondrously nebulous thoughts. He was always seeking that next sound, that next effect, that next artistic nirvana he could reach. He busied himself with the latest instruments and surrounded himself in music unlike anything else – before or since – and that’s what made him happy. Truly happy. I’m sure, given the time, Bolan would have gone on to even wackier and wonderful endeavours; musically and literary.

But for what he made while he was here, visiting our little planet we call Earth, Marc Bolan did a lot. From glitter and glam rock, to rejecting societal norms and being whoever he wanted to be, he was a pioneer in all things different. His music was full of sex and mayhem, yes, but also love, and kindness, and seeking sanctuary in whatever you can. Dancing, singing, and embracing who you really are. His band went on to influence others for the next several years, and kickstart a movement in glam metal a decade later. Without him, without T.Rex, music would have taken a very different route entirely. And though the man himself may be gone, his songs haven’t. There are more than twelve good songs by T.Rex, way more, and they all deserve a listen; however inane at points. So, in the name of Marc Bolan, and in the name of his band, turn the volume up loud and get it on.

Thank you, Marc.

Marc Bolan (1947 – 1977) performing, circa 1977. (Photo by Kevin Cummins/Getty Images)

‘Wear a top hat and a tattooed gown. Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane. Wear your hair long, babe, you can’t go wrong.’