- T.Rex (band)
Infobox musical artist
Name = T.Rex
Alias = Tyrannosaurus Rex
Background = group_or_band
Img_capt = T.Rex, left to right: Bill Legend, Mickey Finn, Marc Bolan, Steve Currie
Years_active = 1967 – 1977
Psych folk, glam rock, hard rock, folk rock
Label = Warner Bros., Relativity, Chronicles/Polygram
Marc Bolan Steve Peregrin Took
Bill Legend Steve Currie Herbie Flowers Dino Dines
Jack Green Gloria Jones
T.Rex (occasionally spelled T Rex or T-Rex) were an English rock band fronted by guitarist, singer and songwriter
Marc Bolan. The band was established as a folk rockgroup in 1960s London, as "Tyrannosaurus Rex" and released their debut album in 1968 " My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows" which reached number 15 on the UK chart. They achieved mainstream success in the 1970s as a glam rockgroup with hits such as "Hot Love", "Get It On", " Telegram Sam" and " Metal Guru".
Tyrannosaurus Rex was formed by
Marc Bolanin August 1967. The group performed just once as a four-piece outfit, at the Electric Garden in Covent Garden, London, before immediately breaking up in disarray. Bolan retained the services of percussionist Steve Peregrin Tookand the duo began producing eccentric, pastoral, folk-tinged ditties steeped in Tolkienian mythology, with spiritual homages to the music of Gene Vincentand Eddie Cochranthrown into the mix for good measure.
The combination of Bolan's acoustic guitar and
cat-like wail with Steve Took's bongos, and assorted percussion, which often included children's instruments such as the Pixiephone, gained them a devoted following on a thriving underground scene. British Disc jockey John Peelbefriended the band and ferried them to and from gigs in his Mini. Peel later appeared on record with them, reading stories written by Bolan. Another key collaborator was producer Tony Visconti, who went on to produce the band's albums well into their second, "glam rock", phase.
Acoustic duo era
By 1968, the act had become a modest success on radio and on record, and had released three albums. Whilst Bolan's early material was
rock and rollinfluenced folk, he was now writing dramatic and Baroquesongs with lush melodies and surreal lyrics filled with Greek and Persian mythologyas well as creations of his own. The band became regulars on Peel Sessions on BBCradio, and toured Britain's student union halls alongside Guero Caballero of The Lothringers. The group, however, received bad press from journalists and critics, who were annoyed at the overexposure they were getting on Peel's radio shows.Fact|date=August 2007
By 1969 there was a clear rift between the two halves of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Bolan and his girlfriend June Child (ex-girlfriend of
Syd Barrett) were living a quiet life, while Took had fully embraced the anti-commercial/community spirited/drug-taking ethos of the UK Undergroundscene centred around Ladbroke Grove. Took was also attracted to the most anarchistic elements, such as Mick Farren/Deviants and members of the Pink FairiesRock 'n' Roll and Drinking Club. [http://www.steve-took.co.uk Steve Took's Domain] ]
By now Took was writing his own songs and wanted the duo to perform them, but Bolan firmly refused. Took contributed his talents and two songs, including "The Sparrow Is a Sign", to Twink's "Think Pink" album, which Bolan probably also did not approve of. Bolan's relationship with Took ended after "Unicorn", although they were contractually obliged to go through with a US tour which was doomed before it began. Poorly promoted and planned, the tour saw the acoustic duo billed alongside loud electric acts, so the gentle acoustic duo was often overshadowed, and to counter this, Took introduced his own solution, drawn from the shock-rocker style of Iggy Pop as Took explained: "I took my shirt off in the Sunset Strip where we were playing and whipped myself till everybody shut up. With a belt, y'know, a bit of blood and the whole of Los Angeles shuts up. 'What's going on, man, there's some nutter attacking himself on stage' I mean, Iggy Stooge had the same basic approach.". [http://www.steve-took.co.uk Steve Took's Domain] ]
As soon as he returned to the
United Kingdom, Bolan replaced Took with bongo player Mickey Finn, who would remain with Bolan until 1975. They made " A Beard of Stars", the final album under the name Tyrannosaurus Rex. Unlike Took, Finn had no song writing aspirations and Tony Visconti commented he was not so talented as Took, "Mickey wasn't as inventive as Steve. Mickey's backing vocals weren't strong, so Marc would double-track them with his own voice for reinforcement". [http://www.marc-bolan.org TAG’s Marc Bolan & T-Rex Web Site - Legal Guardians of Marc Bolan's Rock Shrine.] ]
As well as progressively shorter titles, the albums began to show higher production values, more accessible song writing from Bolan, and experimentation with electric guitars and a true rock sound. The breakthrough was in "King of the Rumbling Spires," (recorded with
Steve Took) which used a full rock band. This era also saw the publication of "The Warlock of Love", a book of Bolan's poetry; derided by critics, it nevertheless became the best-selling poetry book of its time.cite web|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20070202/ai_n17205787
title='The Warlock of Love': 1969|publisher=
Independent News & Media|author=Webb, Robert|date= 2007-02-02|accessdate=2007-12-31]
The next album, titled simply "T.Rex", continued the process of simplification by shortening the name, and completed the move to electric guitars.
Tony Viscontisupposedly got fed up with writing the name out in full on studio chitties and tapes and began to abbreviate it; when Bolan first noticed he was angry but later claimed the idea was his. The sound was more pop-oriented, and the first single, "Ride a White Swan", reached #2 in the UK chart in late 1970. In early 1971, "T. Rex" reached the Top 20 of the UK album charts, though the single was not actually included on the album.
title=T. Rex - "Hot Love"
description=29 seconds (of 4:59)
Ogg"Ride a White Swan" was quickly followed by a second single, "Hot Love", which reached #1 in the UK charts, and remained there for six weeks (the longest stay of any #1 single in 1971). A full band, containing bass ( Steve Currie) and drums ( Bill Legend) was formed to tour to growing audiences, with teenagers mostly replacing the hippiesof old. Chelita Secunda(wife of Tony Secunda, manager of The Move, and for a brief period, T. Rex) added two spots of glitter under Bolan's eyes before an appearance on " Top of the Pops", controversially viewed as the official birth of glam rock. (Some attribute its beginnings to Alice Cooper, who would dress in torn women's clothing as part of his stage act, however Tyrannosaurus Rex's first album appeared before Cooper's and Bolan was known to wear women's clothing before "glam" officially arrived). After Bolan's display, however, glam rock would sweep the United Kingdom and many parts of Europeduring 1971/1972.
The move to electric guitars coincided with Bolan's more overtly sexual lyrical style and image, which outraged some of his older hippie fans, who called him a "sell-out". Some of the lyrical content of Tyrannosaurus Rex remained, but the fairy tales about wizards and magic were now interspersed with sensuous grooves, replete with orgiastic moans and innuendo. The new image and lyrical content was to influence more sexually explicit performers of the 1980s, such as Prince. "Baby Strange" on "
The Slider" album contained lines like "I wanna ball ya" and "In winds of passion my whip is lashin'".
The second T. Rex album, "
Electric Warrior," released in September 1971, added bassist Steve Currieand drummer Bill Legend. Considered by many to be their best album, it brought great success to the group. Publicist BP Falloncoined the term "T. Rextasy" as a parallel to Beatlemania.
"Electric Warrior" included T. Rex's best-known song, titled (in the UK) "Get It On," which hit #1 on the British charts, like the album from which it came. In January 1972 it became a Top Ten hit in the US, where the song was retitled "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" to distinguish it from a song with the same name by the group Chase, also released in 1971. Along with Bowie's early hits, "Get It On" and
Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll" were among the few British glam rock songs that had success in the US. However, the album still recalled Bolan's roots as an acoustic troubadour with ballads like "Cosmic Dancer" and the stark "Girl".
"Electric Warrior" was the band's last album with
Fly Records, whom Bolan left when his contract lapsed and they released the album track "Jeepster" without his permission. Bolan went to EMI, who gave him his own record label in the UK, T. Rex Records, the "T. Rex Wax Co.".
March 18, 1972, T. Rex played two shows at the Empire Pool, Wembley, which were filmed by Ringo Starrand his crew for Apple Films. A large part of the second show was included on Marc Bolan's own rock film " Born to Boogie", while bits and pieces of the first show can be seen throughout the credits at the end of the film. Along with Marc Bolan & T. Rex and Ringo Starr, "Born to Boogie" also featured Elton John, who jammed with the friends to create rockin' studio versions of " Children of the Revolution" and "Tutti Frutti"; Elton John had appeared on TV with Bolan before, playing (miming, actually) the piano part to "Get it On" on the 1971 Christmas edition of "Top of the Pops".
The third album under the name T. Rex, "
The Slider" was released in July 1972. It became the band's most successful album in the US, but wasn't as successful as "Electric Warrior" in the UK, only reaching #4. During spring/summer 1972 Bolan's old label Fly had released the #1 compilation album " Bolan Boogie", a collection of A- and B-sides and LP tracks, which affected " The Slider"'s sales. The two singles released from "The Slider", " Telegram Sam" and " Metal Guru" both flopped in the US, but became #1 hits in the UK.
"Born to Boogie" was premièred at the Oscar One cinema in London, in December 1972, with Bolan, Ringo Starr, and Elton John in attendance. The film received negative reviews from critics, while it was loved by fans. The film was re-released as an expanded two-DVD set, released by
Sanctuary Recordsin 2005. This included both concerts from Wembley ( 18 March 1972) newly mixed into 5.1 surround-sound by Tony Visconti, and edited from the original remastered film negative. [ [http://www.borntoboogie.net borntoboogie.net] ]
The valedictory album "
Tanx" marked the end of the classic T.Rex line up. Original members of the band began to leave, the first being Bill Legend in November 1973, alienated by Bolan's increasingly egotistical behaviour, which was fed by success, money, cocaine, and brandy. Bolan and his wife/manager June split and he began a relationship with Gloria Jones, a session singer and writer, on the band's second major US tour. Jones had achieved fame in the US for the 1964 recording " Tainted Love," written by Ed Cobbof the Four Preps. In the early 1980s, the UK group Soft Cellgained success with their cover of this song.
Bolan split with producer Tony Visconti in early 1974, after the album "
Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow" failed to become a major hit. The album harked back to Tyrannosaurus Rex with its long titles and lyrical complexity, but was not a critical success. From the 1975 " Bolan's Zip Gun" album onwards, Bolan produced his own material in addition to writing the songs, giving his music a harder, more futuristic sheen. The final song recorded with Visconti had been "Till Dawn", which was re-recorded for "Bolan's Zip Gun" with the composer at the controls. Bolan's own productions were not well received in the music press, " Rolling Stone" magazine giving "Zinc Alloy" and all further studio albums one star out of five.
Jones became Bolan's backing singer, keyboard player, lover, and the mother of his only child, Rolan, who was born in September 1975. Mickey Finn left the band in December 1974. Always a fantasist with an alleged
Napoleon complex, Bolan became increasingly isolated, while high UK tax rates drove him into exile in Monte Carloand the US. No longer a vegetarian, he grew heavy on a diet of hamburgers and alcohol, and was ridiculed in the music press.
Bolan and T.Rex released their penultimate album, "
Futuristic Dragon", which was better received, with a schizophrenic production style veering from Wall of Sound style songs to nostalgic nods to the old T.Rex boogie machine, but still only managed to reach #50. The album featured the singles "New York City" (#15 in the summer of 1975) and "Dreamy Lady" (#30). To promote the album, Bolan performed on such programmes as" Top of the Pops", "Supersonic" and "Get It Together", and also toured the UK.
In the summer of 1976, T.Rex released two more singles, "I Love to Boogie" (which charted At #13 and would appear his final album, "
Dandy in the Underworld") and "Laser Love", which made #42. In early 1977 "Dandy in the Underworld" was released to critical acclaim. Bolan had now slimmed down and regained his elfin looks, and the songs too had a stripped-down, streamlined sound. "I Love to Boogie" would later feature in the 2000 film " Billy Elliot", along with several other T-Rex songs included on the soundtrack.
A spring UK tour with
The Damnedas support act garnered positive reviews. In the late summer of 1977 Bolan hosted his own ITV show, "Marc". Bolan was a crusader for punk rock, and invited many punk artists onto the show. Interested in bridging the gap between the rock and rollof the early seventies with the younger generation's scene, the format was for Bolan to play his own music, both old and new, as well as to introduce upcoming bands, which included The Jam, Generation X, Eddie & the Hot Rods, and The Boomtown Rats.
As Bolan was enjoying a new surge in popularity, he talked about performing again with Finn and Took, as well as rejoining producer
On the final episode of "Marc", recorded on
7 September 1977, a long-awaited performance with his old friend David Bowiewas scheduled. As they begin their duet at the show's finale, Bolan tripped and fell off the stage. Bowie smiled and the credits abruptly rolled. This was Bolan's final public appearance, for he would die a week later.
Bolan and Gloria Jones spent the evening of September 15, 1977, drinking at the Speakeasy and then dining at Morton's club on Berkeley Square, central London. While driving home early the morning of September 16, Jones crashed Bolan's purple Mini 1275GT into a tree (now the site of
Bolan's Rock Shrine), at Barnes Bridge, Barnes, South West London-- less than a mile from his home at 142 Upper Richmond Road West in Richmond. Bolan was killed in the crash. Gloria Jones was severely injured but survived, and soon left England for her native America with Rolan.
Bolan died two weeks before his 30th birthday. Bolan had never learned to drive a car, and was known to fear them for he had visions all his life of dying in a car crash.
In a radio interview with
Nicky Hornein 1973, Horne asked, "Where does Marc Bolan hope to be in five years time?" Bolan replied, "I hope to be alive still, that's all I can say". Bolan is reported to have told Gloria Jones he didn't expect to see 30 or his son's second birthday. [Williams, Peter: "Remembering Marc". 1978.] However, it is also widely accepted he was planning to marry Jones in early 1978. [Jones, Gloria: ITV's "Marc Bolan: 20th Century Boy". 8 September 2007.] A copy of the " NME" found in Bolan's wrecked Mini car was open at an interview with Pete Townshend, the headline on the interview reading, "Hope I Die Before I Get Old".Fact|date=August 2008
Mickey Finn's T-Rex
In 1997 Mickey Finn and
Paul Fenton, who had formerly played secondary drums on a few T.Rex albums, "reformed" T.Rex after performing together with Rolan on the twentieth anniversary of Marc Bolan's death. They took the name Mickey Finn's T-Rex because Bolan was the leader of the original T.Rex. For 5 years after Mickey Finn's death, the band were advertised as T-Rex, yet changed their name back to 'Mickey Finn's T-Rex' in July 2008, amidst arising controversy and an accompanying petition to change the name. The band has the blessing of Mickey Finn's family for the use of his name.
The band had an undeniable influence on
punk rockand Britpop, while many modern indie bands play music heavily influenced by the glam scene, especially T. Rex. The early acoustic material was influential in helping to bring about progressive rockand 21st century folk music-influenced singers.
(Numbers listed after the titles are highest UK chart positions.)
;As Tyrannosaurus Rex
Blackhill Enterprises, Bolan's management
Bolan's Rock Shrine, Since 2007 the Site in Barnes, London including 'The Bolan Tree' as been officially recognised by the English Tourist Board as a Sight of Rock 'n' Roll Importance in their Guide 'England Rocks'.
*"Marc Bolan: T. Rextasy" by Mark Paytress ("Mojo", no. 138, May 2005)
*"Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar" by Mark Paytress (Omnibus Press, 2003)
*"Marc Bolan: 1947–1977 A Chronology" by Cliff McLenehan (Helter Skelter Publishing, 2002)
*"Born to Boogie: The Songwriting of Marc Bolan" by Carl Ewens (Aureus Pulbishing, 2007)
* [http://www.myspace.com/marcbolanschoolofmusicandfilm Marc Bolan School Of Music And Film]
* [http://www.marc-bolan.org TAG's Marc Bolan & T-Rex website - Legal Guardians of Marc Bolan's Rock Shrine]
* [http://www.marc-bolan.com Official Marc Bolan Fan Club website]
* [http://www.borntoboogie.net Official "Born to Boogie" website]
* [http://www.marcbolan.net/ MarcBolan.net - Marc Bolan & T.Rex website]
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