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Marc Bolan

Marc Bolan

Later known as
lived here
(25 Stoke Newington Common)

Marc Bolan was the pioneer of the “Glam Rock” era of the early seventies. He was born Mark Feld on September 30th 1947, and up until 1962 he lived at 25a Stoke Newington Common with his mother, Phyllis, who worked on a Soho fruit stall, and his father, Simeon, who had various odd jobs including cosmetic salesman and truck driver. Mark developed his love of music at an early age through long hours spent listening to his parent’s record collection. Simeon and Phyllis encouraged their son’s interest in music and bought him his first guitar when he was just nine years old. Mark’s early ambition was fuelled by attending Rock and Roll concerts, including Eddie Cochran’s appearance at the Hackney Empire as part of his only British tour. It was after this concert that Cochran handed his guitar to the thirteen year old Mark Feld and allowed him to carry it to the singer’s waiting limousine.

After a short-lived stint as a teenage model, Mark returned his focus to music. Under the name ‘Toby Tyler’, he produced several unsuccessful demo discs before eventually landing a recording contract at the Decca record label. It was at this time that he released his first single, “The Wizard” (1965) under his newly acquired name, Marc Bolan. Solo success eluded Marc, and after a short spell with the group, ‘John’s Children’, he set about forming his own rock band. In 1967, with Steve Peregrine Took, Bolan founded ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’. Over the next two years ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ built a modest but loyal following. It was in 1969 that the band’s sound evolved from its folk roots to the harder rock sound which was increasingly the fashion. During this period Steve Peregrine Took left the band and was replaced by Mickey Finn. A new album in March 1970 (“A Beard of Stars”) did relatively poorly; it’s new sound alienating much of the band’s existing following while at the same time failing to attract many new fans.

A slight name change (‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ being abbreviated to ‘T. REX’) led to a change in fortune for the band. The first single released under this new name (“Ride a White Swan”) reached number two in the charts. At this time Marc performed on ‘Top of the Pops’ with glitter painted on his face, which led to him being credited with single-handedly starting the “Glitter” or “Glam” Rock era of pop music. A Number 1 single quickly followed in early 1971, “Hot Love”, leading to a three year spell in which the band had 10 consecutive Top 5 singles including “Get It On” (1971), “Telegram Sam”(1972), “Metal Guru” (1972) and “Twentieth Century Boy” (1973).

The following years saw a steady decline in the success of ‘T. REX’/. Bolan would later describe his efforts at this time to successfully overcome both drug addiction and alcoholism. In August 1977, Marc was given his own Granada television series, “Marc”, which revived his public profile by attracting in excess of 10 million viewers.

On September 16th 1977 Marc Bolan was the passenger in a car driven by the American singer, Gloria Jones, by whom he had an infant son. On a tight curve in Barnes Common, Gloria lost control of the car which left the road and struck a tree. Jones was injured in the accident, but just a fortnight short of his thirtieth birthday, Marc Bolan was killed instantly.

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Page updated: 15 Jun 2010 

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