Marking the anniversary of the tragic death of Marc Bolan, the Times UK has unveiled a previously lost piece of performance footage (available here) where he can be seen silently mugging to the camera and the assembled crowd of fans below.
Ever since I was introduced to Bolan and his band T.Rex, I felt that the sounds I was hearing came from an inspired and innovative musician grooving to his own private melody and in touch with some strange otherworldly sound that only he could hear.
You can say that about almost any musician, but Bolan was something else. Gifted with a kind of inner sight, he was able to see his success in ways that allowed him to brazenly enter a music executive’s office and demand to be recognized as a genius. When his first album premiered, he was attacked by the press for his ‘lamby’ voice, but those critics soon ate their own words as he rose to the stardom Marc knew he was worthy of.
An innovator and musical maverick, Marc was one of a kind from the beginning. As a teenager,he thought of himself as a professional model and walked around London in zoot suits performing to the world at large. The dubious glam film Velvet Goldmine depicted a very ‘Marc Bolan‘-esque character as a kind of Oscar Wilde/Green Lantern who held a power from beyond the stars.
Well, Marc would probably agree with that.
Solid Gold Easy Action -Live 1972
His early career was more fantasy/folk oriented as Tyrannosaurus Rex, but his unique wailing guitar sound embodied the 70′s Glam in ways that made many feel that he had been around all along.
While a trailblazer of music trends as the herald of the Glam movement, he was not above recognizing that tastes change and toured with The Jam and The Damned as the new wave and punk sounds took hold of British youth.
Many know the stories of Marc‘s rivalry with David Bowie (how could Marc equate the brilliance of David‘s music with his own genius?), but in truth Marc felt a deep kinship with the Thin White Duke. Shortly before he died, Marc had David as a guest on his show simply entitled ‘Marc.’
The story goes that Bowie had met a ‘witch’ who told him that he was one of a trinity of gifted seers, the other two being Hendrix and Bowie. At Marc‘s funeral, David soberly remembered that this made him the last of the three… and promptly recorded ‘Let’s Dance,’ ‘Tonight’ and ‘Never Let Me Down’ to shake off the attraction of any demons sniffing out artistic integrity.
… but never mind.
The footage below shows Marc fall on his ass shortly before the duo were to perform together. As you can see, this was shot after Bowie cleaned up his act and quit his drug use after taking the ‘cure’ in Berlin. It was also shot during one of Bowie‘s many stages of re-invention (the art-rocker of Station to Station), which is ironic since Marc shows signs that he is deeply under the influence.
Marc Bolan died at the age of 29. A ‘cosmic dancer’ to the end, his sound and influence can be found in New Order, Pink Floyd, The Smiths, and Oasis.
Rather than feel blue or treat the day as a bummer, I urge you to ‘find a little Marc in your heart’ and groove on through the day.