Marc Bolan was an artist taken from the world far too soon. Before the singer lost his life in a tragic car accident in 1977 he possessed one of the most groove-laden guitars rock and roll had ever seen.
This isolated guitar track of T-Rex’s iconic hit ’20th Century Boy’ is all the proof you need of his deserved title of Glam Rock God.
The T-Rex frontman, born Mark Feld, was an instigator in the music scene in 1970 and after the success of ‘Ride A White Swan’ (recorded with Tony Visconti), his band were at the forefront of the Glam rock movement alongside David Bowie.
After the track began seeing Bolan and his group being played across the airwaves, Bolan began wearing top hats and feather boas on stage and soon enough was dabbing glitter to his cheeks. How it got there is up for debate.
Some say the glitter was introduced by his personal assistant, Chelita Secunda, although Bolan told John Pidgeon in a 1974 interview on Radio 1 that he noticed the glitter on his wife, June Child’s dressing table prior to a photo session beautified himself and cemented the legend of glam rock in stone.
However it happened, it’s a perfect example of how easy it is to get caught up in Marc Bolan, the image. His starry eyes and expressive message meant that he soon became an icon of the era. The star became so synonymous with glam rock that it would eventually colour the latter part of his career in frustration, unable to transcend the scene he created despite how wonderful a scene.
The truth is, Marc Bolan didn’t create glam rock with glittered eyelids and cheeks alone. No, the singer did it with some incredibly groove-filled rock and roll jams. Bolan’s incredible ear for a hook and untethered talent to make the young folk dance can be seen across T-Rex’s back catalogue. But it shines brightest on the anthemic 1973 hit ’20th Century Boy’.
The track has become a bastion of Bolan’s legacy and ranks as one of the greatest rock songs ever written. The song was released amid the height of Bolan’s pop star status, landing as one of the most notable tracks of the time and a serious competitor to the title of ‘Bolan’s Best’ alongside ‘Get It On’ and ‘Children of the Revolution’. While the lyrics are powerful and evocative, now harkening to a century gone by, it is on the guitar that Bolan displays his best work.
The iconic raging riff at the beginning of the number leaves you in no doubt of what’s to come and sees the glam rock God unleash some glitter-flecked goodness upon the airwaves. Note the brilliant noddle for the iconic “20th Century Boy/I wanna be your boy” refrain.
Below we’re listening back to the crunchy goodness of his isolated guitar track on the single and providing you with a quick but always need refresher of just how talented Marc Bolan was.
Listen to Marc Bolan’s isolated guitar on ’20th Century Boy’ below: