The Boogie Man Cometh

- Page Two -

by Bruce Harris (1972)

"It takes three tours for an English band to make it in America", Marc Bolan says, leaning back in the glamourously Spartan atmosphere of the City Squire Hotel. "The only exception was Elton John, and that was a lot of hype. I didn't want any of that. They offered to do a multi-million dollar hype, and all that stuff, and I said, "No, we'll come and do it ourselves!" I avoided all that "New Beatles" bullshit. Hopefully. I mean they still say it, but we're not behind it, you know what I mean? It took four years to make it in England, and I expect it to take four years here."

Gilbert and Sullivan, not to be confused with Gilbert O'Sullivan, once wrote a song that went,

"Things are seldom what they seem
Skim milk masquerades as cream"

Could they have known about Bolan back in Victorian England? Perhaps not, but Marc, cream often masquerading as skim milk, really does seem a bundle of contradictions at times. It's as if no matter what opinion you have about him, you're still wrong. He is seldom what he seems...

"I want respect first", Marc goes on, "and then we can spread it. You can't do it all in a week. You can get hit records all in a week, but that doesn't mean you'll have respect, or that you'll be able to fill halls. I think we have respect now. We're basically still an FM thing in the States, but after our movie comes out, we'll be international idols, I guarantee you. I don't necessarily want the same thing that I've got in England here, because we don't have FM radio. Albums are more important to me. I can't get it all on a single. There's more to me that just a little ditty."

Around Christmas, Marc Bolan's first film will be released the United States. The movie that will make T. Rex an overnight supersensation is titled "Born to Boogie" and was directed and photographed by Ringo Starr (who also did the cover for T. Rex's most recent Reprise album, "the Slider".) A documentary of the T. Rex phenomenon in England, where even the most extravagant Beatlemania seems placid compared to the psychotic chaos of British T.Rextacy, "Born to Boogie" is meant to do for Bolan in 1973 what the now-folded Ed Sullivan Show did for the Beatles in 1963.

"It's important for us to be seen", Bolan continues. "That's why we want our faces on TV. We've been running a TV commercial on this tour so people could see us, but that's the only way we could get on the air. We had to fucking BUY it! In England, "Ride a White Swan" had gotten to Number Thirty with no radio play, and we did one Top of the Pops on TV, and it was Number One the next week all over, just like that. Now we have the movie which will totally explain to America what the phenomenon we are in England is. Until people really saw "A Hard Day's Night", they just didn't believe what goes on."

In London these days, you can't walk down the street without all the young dudes decked out in their Bolan Boogie satin suits and their T. Rex T-shirts. ("I need TV when I got T. Rex!") America seems strangely resistant. ("I need T. Rex when I got Sex!")

"We did a CBS News thing," Bolan says, "but only because they really wanted us to do it. No one pressured them. They just showed up and said, "We feel we have to document this." I don't think they were at all aware of what it was they were documenting, but that doesn't matter."

It would be hard to imagine how CBS News would view T. Rex. Apart from their obvious inability to understand them musically would perhaps come the feeling that T. Rex is somehow dangerous to the American way of life - so degenerate, so decadent, and finally, so demoralizing to the young, impressionable audience. CBS might make fun of T. Rex but not just because they don't understand them, but also because they are afraid of them It should be clear to Nixon that Bolan is some kind of a threat. It is not a much more subtle point to determine what exactly it is that he's threatening.

"The President's weird
He's got a burgundy beard
It's a rip-off!"

Next: The Making of "Electric Warrior"...

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