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Chris Welsh

Simon Napier – Bell


Published in August 2008 £14.99

ISBN 0859654117

Plexus Publishing (First published in 1982)



Marc Bolan was the original Glam Rocker, he began his musical career in 1968 as part of an acoustic duo called Tyrannosaurus Rex. Two years later the name changed to the well-known T. Rex. Marc had a huge mop of dark corkscrew curls, glam rock fashion and is known widely for his hit ‘Ride A White Swan’amongst others.

He was a meteoric sensation, heartthrob and plastered over my walls at the age of around 12.

He was the pioneer of the old school in embracing punk music. He even had his own show promoting new bands such as Generation X in the late 70’s, ‘Marc’ which of course I remember pretty well.

The final T.Rex tour was supported by punk band The Damned. He earned himself the nickname The Godfather Of Punk.

Marc Bolan died in a car crash on Sept 16th Sept 1977 at the age of 29 two days before his 30th birthday with his wife at the wheel of a mini although his wife Gloria Jones survived. It’s been over 30 years since tragedy struck but his star still shines.


This remains the definitive book on Marc Bolan – let’s dig deeper. I’ve been sat on this book for a few months now and it was very remiss of me not to read it sooner.


Marc died before his time so his legend lives on – the book was co written by Marc’s first manager Simone Napier Bell who seeks to give us his first hand account of the glitzy glam rocker. Chris Welsh is a veteran music journalist and author of many rock books.


'Born To Boogie' will delight and inform you about the music, the man, and his ventures in the 60’s and 70’s. It should renew interest in the charismatic show stopper with the corkscrew hairdo.

Marc was a glamorous character, sensitive egomaniac, let’s smash the rumours , the gossip and head into the book. It’s packed full of facts, names, places, details, a glowing foreword is written by the founders of the official Marc Bolan Club John & Shan Bramley. A vast introduction was written in 1982 by Simon Napier Bell.


Marc was born Marc Feld, his father was a lorry driver, and Mum worked on a market stall, he never wanted a ‘normal’ job. His father bought him a drum kit at the tender age of 8 and Phyllis his Mum bought him his first guitar for £14 and supported him through thick and thin. Marc did however do a series of mundane jobs after being expelled from school, a great fan of poetry and romantic literature. He had a brief stint at modelling, and flirted wildly with his sexuality, many thought he was gay he claimed to be bisexual.


Fascinating to note just how many of his contemporarys were stirred by Bolan, e.g. Morrissey, Marc Almond, Adam Ant, Gary Numan, Joey Ramone, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bauhaus and how his musical inspirations live on in the likes of Goldfrapp and many others.


It’s remarkable to read such long forgotten personal tales from Paul Morley writing the obituary in the NME in Sept 77 a glowing tribute to the man.

I found out a lot of little specifics which were previously unknown to me, Kris Needs recalls a few tales as does B.P Fallon.

It brought back echoes of a time long forgotten, the day he died, Bowie at the funeral, with a huge four foot swan of white flowers. Marcs funeral was in Golders Green London, and attracted the glitterati of it’s time – a sad loss of a much loved man, artistic and enigmatic. Marc leaves behind a son (who he incidentally delivered) Rolan Bolan.


Read it and be stunned at the highs and the lows of a rock and rolling legend from Bolanmania to drug and alcohol abuse and everything in-between – let’s leave it with a line from Marc’s lyrics.


‘I could have loved you good like a planet, I could have chained your heart to a star, but it really doesn't matter at all, no it really doesn't matter at all, life's a gas. I hope it’s gonna last’ - 'Life A Gas’

Reviewed by Mel  01.11.08

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