The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: Marc Bolan in the Last Year of His Life
T. Rex's Marc Bolan was almost a busted flush when — in 1977, the last year of his short life — he returned with renewed punk vigor and a decent album called Dandy in the Underworld. Six months before his death, Paul Morley interviewed him for the March 19 issue of NME——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages
THE SCENE: Offices somewhere in London... Marc Bolan, just returned from some tryout dates in France, professes to having a tummy bug — but in neat soft green suit he looks healthy enough... his right leg kicks out a lot, he seems more nervous than I am.
One of precious few genuine early '70s rock'n'roll stars (I can think of two others — one now a graciously indulgent semi-recluse, shades, corkscrew hair, rasp-twist; the other well into hurt-confuse manipulation). The one I mean is Bolan. If you don't think so, then you're being as bigoted as you probably think Bolan is. Ya-boo sucks to you if you agedly assumed that he was always earnestly serious.
He was a sculpted, not line-drawn, animated rock star; fluffy-cloud pretty, groovy-fun-cosmic, indulgent, arrogant, stylish, the ultimate poser, boaster, leader-onner, leader.
Almost single-handedly he filled a fairly huge gap in the blank redundant early '70s; he had assault, impact, appeal — how could any one resist him? Maybe my own continual, perhaps dramatically indiscriminate attraction has a lot to do with psychologically-meaningful-mid-sex-romance-happenings (The first rock'n'roll record I ever bought was 'Ride A White Swan'. I tripped along to see him (H-32, just 60p!) and with magical pouting punkoid panache, no doubt inherited from Bolan, picked up my first-ever girl.)
The first time I ever got laid was after a Bolan gig (she had corkscrew hair, glitter under her eyes, stars on her cheeks, satin jeans. Phewee! That was a period!).
Yeah, but there was more; his records were up-thrilling. The best derivative, unambitious, flavor-holding bubblegum rock'n'roll of all time. Plenty of fun, lotsa energy, short and sweet, crass, screaming, funny; vum, vum, vum — one after the other.
Bolan's blunt irreverence, his apparent rigid dogmaticism and occasional (people told me) paranoia didn't endear him to many. A lot were quietly — and not so quietly — glad when "circumstances" led to a fall from grace. But even when things were really down, Bolan was bubbling around, never totally out.
Right now he's crisper, cleaner more enthusiastic than he's been for a long time. He's bagged a cracking new band, he ain't drinking, he ain't drugging, he's heavily into the beaver year lark. Plus he's as upfront as ever, with better reason than in the last three of four years when things, he admits, were rough.
His heart is light, his grin permanent, and he's not even scared about putting stun-rock experts The Damned as support on his new tour.
"The Damned I like a lot. I was introduced to them because one of them had the good taste to wear a Marc Bolan T-shirt. Of those new bands who don't seem to be breaking out of their environment, I thought it'd be nice to have them on tour."
He's not scared they're gonna blast him off stage? "Naah! Not with this band."
"This Band" is the new T. Rex, consisting of Tony Newman, Herbie Flowers, (the infamous) Miller Anderson and Dino Dines. It's the only T. Rex that Bolan's been so obviously satisfied with since the basic Finn-Curry-Legend lineup.