Book review: Metal Guru – The Life and Music of Marc Bolan by Paul Roland

Metal Guru - The Life and Music of Marc Bolan by Paul Roland

Extraction Publishing [Publication date 04.09.17]

Paul Roland has already written four biographies on Marc Bolan and this latest one is published just before the 40th anniversary of Bolan’s death. There is one spooky part about Marc Bolan in that he knew he wouldn’t live past thirty (he died aged 29) and that he was fascinated by the painting The Sixteenth of September by Magritte – Bolan died in a car crash on that date in 1977.

Plenty of interesting facts in the book, including how Mark Field got his name Marc Bolan, with one story being he based his surname on the actor James Bolam, but changed the last letter to avoid any comeback from Bolam.

It traces Bolan’s hit and miss 60′s era before finding success with Tyrannosaurus Rex along with Steve Peregrin Took. The music of Tyrannosaurus Rex was more poetical and folky than T.Rex and John Peel was a keen supporter of the band’s music and Marc Bolan.

T.Rex and their string of hits is what most will remember Marc Bolan for. Such classics as ‘Get It On’, ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Telegram Sam’, ‘Ride A White Swan’ and ’20th Century Boy’ still sound great today and Marc Bolan’s music has influenced many artists including Morrissey, Joe Elliott, My Chemical Romance, Oasis to name but a few.

Although a big fan and very knowledgeable about Marc Bolan and his life & music, Paul Roland is never sycophantic in his writing and does show where Bolan’s career went downhill in the mid-70′s.

You do often wonder what might have been as prior to his death Bolan was fronting a successful TV show ‘Marc’ and on that he often featured punk bands about to break big. He could well have carried on his TV role and bands like the Damned openly acknowledge the influence he had on their early days.

A perfect introduction to the life and music of Marc Bolan, that includes many rare photos and extracts from interviews who worked with Marc Bolan such as producer Tony Visconti and T.Rex band members Bill Legend and Steve Currie.

Review by Jason Ritchie

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