Just seven days before the tragic accidental death of the legendary Marc Bolan, he asked one of his fellow glam rock superstars to join him on stage as part of his ongoing television show ‘Marc’, that someone was the enigmatic David Bowie.
The pair, widely lauded as the fathers of Glam rock, if not modern rock and roll as we know it, first met back in 1964 when David Jones (as he was known then) was on the same roster of manager Leslie Conn, as the young Mark Feld. Conn had put the pair of prospects to work on painting an office for him, returning from lunch to find the pair missing and only half the walls painted. It was the beginning of a beautiful and mischevious relationship. They littered Carnaby Street with their hopes and dreams of becoming pop stars.
The pair spent most of the sixties in rags, never reaching the stars they had so long looked at together, but the seventies would see the pair on top together if only for a hideously short while. The two of them trading ideas and songs with the same affection as brothers swapping football stickers. Bowie‘s song for Bolan ‘Lady Stardust’ which was not only depicting a space-age traveller but Bolan himself and with it Bowie laid the precursor to his own alien rock star Ziggy Stardust.
As the rise and fall of Glam rock came and went Bolan found himself in serious trouble. He had lost the vigour and verve which had made him a star, he was back to gigantic album titles, LPs which didn’t chart and lived on a diet of cocaine and brandy. As the glitter stopped falling from the sky, the party had moved on and Bolan had lost his sparkle. Bowie, on the other hand, was flying high (in so many ways) on the success of numerous progressive albums, breaking America and generally being received as a King among men wherever he went.
The pair reunited in early 1977 as Bowie was on his tour with Iggy Pop. Staying with Bolan at his London flat the pair went on to half-record a track titled ‘Madman’ which Bolan claimed was going to be the centre of his next record. The only version we have is a ferocious, vicious and seductive piece of music and sounded much like the beginning of something new and spectacular for Bolan.
It was the kick up the arse Bolan needed and by the summer of
Although the taping had its issues, with Bolan feeling quite put out as Bowie directed and orchestrated his performance of ‘Heroes’ leaving Bolan out in the cold, the performance was an all-around success. The issues arose as Bowie became consumed by achieving the right sound and Bolan felt aggrieved by Bowie’s lack of respect. With the latter’s security then stopping Marc from even reaching the stage while Bowie continued to work. As the taping began the pair were barely speaking.
But as ever, one thing would save them; the music. The pair duel over their pre-dictated jam session song (which some call ‘Sleeping Next To You’ or Standing Next To You’) equals in the middle of the stage fiercely playing their guitars and enjoying the spotlight. The great reunion would end in a laugh though as Bolan went to strike a move and fell off the stage and Bowie cracked up. It broke the tension and the two of them would make up later that night over dinner. Bowie was off on his worldwide tours and Bolan was determined to put himself at the centre of the music scene yet again with his new record.
Just a week later, Bolan and his girlfriend, Gloria Jones, went out for a night of drinking. At 5 in the morning, Jones crashed Bolan’s Mini GT into a tree on Barnes Common, striking the tree with enough force to kill Bolan almost instantly. He would never see is 30th birthday and never make that all important record.