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on 9 January 2013
The book focuses primarily on Marc's personal life rather than his music or it's legacy, which is fair enough - it offers a different perspective to accounts you may have read before and does contain some powerful eyewitness testimony. However, despite some insightful (and to reiterate, powerful) iterviews most notably (from an emotional view point) those with Jeff Dexter,as well as Keith Altham ,Tony Visconti and to a lesser extent, Bob Harris I was left ultimately disappointed on a couple of fronts.
The first, as has been mentioned in a previous review, is the authors tendency to drop David Bowie into the narrative at the slightest opportunity,often without actually addding anything to the story of Marc's life (she is evidently a Bowie fan girl, which is fine but this is a book about Bolan).
The second and most irritating is the (seemingly endless) name dropping and irrelevant background the author provides.She tells us how she knows interviewees, how she is introduced to them and by whom and even how she mets celebs who are not even interviewed or contribute little if anything to Marc's story. Some of the most gratuitous examples of name dropping and irrelevance for me, were -
"Sometime in 1986,I spent a few days with Ken Russell and his wife Vivian in Barrowdale, Cumbria, where they lived in an idyllic Lakeland cottage with ravishing views"
"I have known Eric (Hall) since I was a teenager, when Eric was looking after a nightclub for Terry Venables, a family friend" and then -
"I struggle to remember the when - where- why of how I met Simon (Napier Bell) ....He has lived for years in Thailand yet we still seem to manage two or three all-night dinners a year"
- I'm afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg and I found it grating.
So, although there are indeed some excellent interviews and reminisces the book was, on the whole, spoiled for me, I'm afraid, by the needless name dropping.It is the life of Marc Bolan I want to read about, not that of the author.
Paytress still rules the roost on the Bolan front, it seems to me.
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on 30 July 2013
I love Marc Bolan but have never read any bios only music articles. So, I read this book with interest on a lazy Sunday. The problem I have with this Bio, is, the author's egoistical habit of inserting herself throughout the story. Ms Jones didn't know or meet MB, but apparently is mates with just about everyone else in his story!
Now, if , at the beginning, Ms Jones had written her thanks and mentioned her friendships there-fine. But, we have the tiresome task of having to have her reminding us all the way through about how she knows so-&- so. Whether this is to convince us readers of the author's credibility-therefore conferring some sort of status to her-so that we can trust this version or whether it is simply because the author feels it interesting/relevant I don't know.
For me, it just feels rather 'song- in- the- key- of- me'- if you catch my drift! Anyway, we know MB had a big enough ego of his own-but he was also remarkably talented to boot!

There were a few passages of the book I found offensive such as "(London's East End) It was so over-populated with immigrants and paupers at the turn of the last century that it's future notoriety as a hotbed of crime and disease was perhaps inevitable" Hmmm
It was also unedifying to see the snide asides -some unsubstantiated -about June Child (MB's wife) in the book. No one is perfect and to read about her being told she wasn't welcome at Marc's funeral is heartbreaking. She obviously was unable to ever learn to live with the loss of Bolan from her life either when they split or his death some years later. I find it interesting though, that they never got divorced. Roughly 4 years had passed from their split to MB's death.

It also perpetuates the myth-IMO- about the accident that killed MB. The accident occurred in a place that was pitch black.. Incredibly, the evidence of the crash seems to rest on one copper's evidence- a PC Hardman. He stated that that the car had not been speeding-anyone with common sense could see from the photo of the damage to the site and the car wreckage that it must have been speeding.Also he stated that the driver-Gloria Jones-was not drunk/on drugs etc which is ridiculous! So, he ascertained this how exactly? Ms Jones had broken her jaw-conversation was impossible. Did the PC possess some sort of magical power whereby he could tell what was in someone's blood/system just by the power of thought perchance? (Ms Jones had flown back from the States that day, was jetlagged, and had been to 2 nightclubs. The book doesn't mention eyewitnesses who had seen Ms Jones drinking)
As for the loose wheel nut theory-I think that was caused by the crash itself. If they were loose before, you would have noticed before-=you would have felt it- and the crash would have caused the wheel to come off I would have thought. Interesting too that no one from the supposed garage that did the work was ever charged or identified isn't it?

The book is 387 pages long; the first 16 pages are blah;Chapter 1 starts page 17 , with the final chapter ending page 291. the rest are copious chapter notes.
There are also 16 pages of photos.
I found the book, all in all interesting because of the subject matter-although there does appear to be some parts of Bolan's life/career missing or skimmed over. I would think the more informed fans may not find much new here.
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on 6 July 2014
I really couldn’t wait to get into this book because although I’m too young to have really “appreciated” Marc Bolan and T Rex at the height of their fame, of course I have seen them on reruns of Top of the Pops and other shows and have one of the Greatest Hits albums, so I was looking forward to a really exciting and informative read. I wasn’t disappointed on the whole, as I found out so much of interest and so much that surprised – and shocked – me. I particularly loved the information supplied by Harry Feld about their years growing up in London. The author has interviewed a number of people who were on the scene at the time; musicians, agents, promoters, publicists, managers and contemporaries of Bolan, uncovering a picture of a complex and fascinating character. But I did find myself wondering about the accuracy of some of the soundbites from contributors. Did he really say on more than one occasion that if he was going to be killed in a car it would have to be a Mini? Or is this an urban myth that has gathered momentum over time? Similarly with the references to his sexuality and penchant for using people in that way to get a leg up in the industry. She also has an annoying idiosyncratic style at times, in a misguided attempt at humour. For example mentioning someone named Weaver who worked with the Bee Gees (He’s a Saturday Night Weaver) and captioning the smashed up Mini (registration FOX 661L) with song lyrics “Easy as picking foxes from a tree”. There are plenty more examples throughout the book. All of this was unnecessary, irritating and detracted from the narrative. The biggest sin is that some fabulous photographs are included but which are far too small to see properly. It was a revelation to discover that Marc Bolan outsold David Bowie in the early 1970s; I had no idea what a massive impact Marc had on the music scene at the time or their “rivalry”. But Jones handles this with a clear bias towards David Bowie. I could not work out whether or not she was actually a Marc Bolan fan or was being objective with this book at times. What I felt missing also was a contrast with the other “glam rock” musicians of the time and a study of the musical craft to develop context; there is a passing reference to Sweet and Slade but nothing of any depth. This would have been a worthy angle to explore. The book left me feeling sad at the ultimate tragedy and for a waste of such talent. He seemed to be ahead of his time and able to grasp the constant reinventions required to succeed in the music industry. A fascinating read despite the shortcomings of some of the narrative, which has inspired me to look him up on YouTube and DVDs as well as some of the early Tyrannosaurus Rex material.
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on 1 February 2018
This account of this lovely man is not well written it keeps going on about the good ole days and to me not enough on Marc Bolan.
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on 18 July 2017
Very readable. I learned a great deal about Marc Bolan from this book, far more than previous efforts on the same topic.
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on 26 June 2015
Love Marc Bolan, his music, his poetry, everything. This book is a great insight into his life, one of the best books around about his life. If you are interested in Marc's short but eventful life this is the one for you
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on 19 March 2017
Very happy with service and the item
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on 16 November 2012
This is a classic case of what I call Hit and Myth (here's a quote):

`Bowie releases concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, a sensation. Promo tour takes US by storm. Marc watches helplessly as Bowie steals his thunder. Bowie is gracious, mentioning T.Rex in his lyrics for `All The Young Dudes', the song he gifts Mott the Hoople. Bolan bitches.'

This is manipulative writing at its most hard-faced. It comes in the extensive back notes (designed to flesh out the book and probably up the price). It's implied here that Bowie becomes a US sensation in '72 while Bolan flounders. In reality, this US storm/sensation was such that it took Bowie's `Ziggy' album to the unimpressive low of number 75 on the US chart. It might as well have landed on Mars for all anybody in the US cared at that point. But that isn't the impression somebody who didn't know better would get.

The '72 T.Rex album `The Slider', on the other hand, was a top 20 hit in the US, peaking at number 17, and released to huge critical acclaim, with one critic calling it `flawless' and another comparing its magical artistry directly with the Beatles' white album. None of which is mentioned.

To put the above in context, Bowie was in '72 enjoying his first flourish of success in the UK after three years in the commercial wilderness, while `T.rextasy' was at its height, with T.Rex records accounting for around 6% of domestic record sales in the UK, selling an estimated 100,000 records a day (apparently more than the Beatles sold in the UK at the height of Beatlemania). Even Paul McCartney was quoted as saying, "T.Rex is bigger than the Beatles were!"

All this, of course, is the real reason for Bowie's `gracefulness' (aside from the fact that he and Marc were close friends), and none of which is mentioned, or even dealt with as a possible exaggeration of some staggering figures.

Now read the above quote again and you'll get a flavour of what you can expect from this hatchet job of a book (if you're still determined to buy it).

The build up to the glory years of T.Rex is indepth and quite good (mainly because this hack writer is very well connected and gets the interviews that count; all of which, ironically, paint Marc in a very good light, dispelling many of the negative myths about our magical elf). The problem is that whenever Jones' narrative starts up again, the bile starts up again.

The clue that there will be problems comes at the beginning, when Jones mentions Marc Bolan, then goes on a long ramble about her childhood love for Bowie. That section becomes all about Bowie, not Bolan. From that point on, Bolan is derided constantly while Bowie is bigged up, even to the point, as mentioned, of what amounts to bare-faced lies.

It gets worse as it goes on. During the build-up to the glory years of T.Rex, all anticipation is deflated in a passage that is again about Bowie. Jones mentions that producer Visconti chooses Marc over Bowie and that Bowie is badly disappointed. She ends the paragraph by stating that Bowie `wouldn't have to wait long'. When I read this, I knew that Jones was planning to skim the T.Rex glory years and head straight for the decline, but I didn't realise just how badly ripped off I had been until I got there.

Jones deals with `Ride A White Swan' by lazily throwing in a deconstruction of the song by some Tolkien expert, which is interesting enough in itself. Later there's a write up about Telegram Sam, but that's about it. Electric Warrior is dealt with quickly and The Slider is slid over in a paragraph, with just a mention that it wasn't promoted by Marc and slid quickly down the charts! Metal Guru, arguably T.Rex's most glorious pop song and the pinnacle of T.Rextasy as a phenomenon, is only mentioned in the notes at the back; and, of course, in a negative light. Jones does mention in the notes that it was a number one and spent four weeks on the charts. In fact, it was selling up to 100,000 records a day and spent four weeks at the number one position; an important detail.

The back notes do admit that The Slider's number four placing in the UK was due to a compilation record of T.Rex songs being released by another company. There is no mention of critical acclaim for the album, or the fact that it was a US top twenty hit while Ziggy flopped... for obvious reasons.

Even when Jones acknowledges a T.Rex hit, she does it in summary fashion, along the lines of `Hot Love was a hit, spending 6 weeks at number one and selling lots of records'. The moment infamous for kick starting Glam and a whole new era in pop, when Bolan made his now legendary appearance on TOTP in androgynous style and with glitter teardrops sparkling on his face, is also written up in summary fashion and bitterly dismissed as `starting a craze'!! One T.Rex hit that spent weeks at the top spot is described in negative terms as having `languished' there!

Jones revels in Marc's decline and the US stardom that Bowie actually did achieve in 1975 (sprinkling Beatle stardust onto this career by co-writing the hit 'Fame' with John Lennon; also by concocting a song designed specifically for the US: `Young Americans'). From '73 on, Bowie had enjoyed album hits in the US, but 'Fame' represented not only his first US singles number one, but also his first foray into the US singles top ten. (Odd for a 'sensation' who had taken the US by 'storm' back in '72.)

Jones does mention that in '75 and '76 Bolan did have a couple of songs that `charted'. What she doesn't mention (apart from in the back notes), is that of all the T.Rex songs that charted during this time, two were top twenty hits, with one peaking at number 15 and one at number 13 - an incredible achievement for somebody who had so recently paid the price for truly massive media over-exposure.

But that is left unsaid; along with the fact that her love Bowie's singles action both in the US and UK was always patchy. Aside from a few serious hits, scratching the top twenty was often the best he could manage even at the height of his powers in the seventies. He didn't get a number one in the UK until the re-release of 'Space Oddity' in '75 and had to wait until 1980 (three years after Bolan's death), to enjoy another. Bolan's chart placings in '75 and '76 beat both 'Young Americans' and 'Fame' on the UK singles chart.

By the end of the book, the gloves are off completely and it makes king-of-the-corpses-hatchet-job expert Albert Goldman seem like a writer of true artistry. Jones can't avoid mentioning that Bolan is enjoying a huge resurge of popularity, but hates doing it and quickly dismisses him as (wait for it) `an end of the pier piss artist'! This is in preparation for a last mention of her great god-Bowie.

When Bowie flies in to appear on Marc's new TV show, it is described as if a god is descending from the heavens to bestow a blessing on his servants. Marc and an associate are described waiting for Bowie (as if in awe), as the "little mates who couldn't believe their luck"!!!!! A couple of lines down and she describes them as "the oiks".

While people influenced by T.Rex are mentioned, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that pop music experts find Bolan's distinctly original sound in virtually all great pop/rock music from his death up to the present day. A genuinely major achievement.

Marc Bolan reinvented the rock 'n' roll three minute single; he stole popular music from self-important naval gazers and brought it back to the kids, where it has stayed, firmly rooted, ever since. His influence is seen in almost everything. He is the ultimate teen idol, gaining too much, too soon, and burning very, very brightly for a short time before crashing and burning. He wasn't a manipulator, he was an innovator; he wasn't a schemer, he was a dreamer. He just made damn sure his dreams came true, that's all.

Was the author using this book as an audition for a Bowie biography? Remember one thing: Bowie has always been a graceful person and a generous person, as well as a brilliant artist. This book isn't his fault. Bolan and Bowie loved each other and competed with each other like brothers, even Jones doesn't deny that.

I'm amazed at the rave reviews, although I know how fake celebrity reviews can be (given as a favour to the well-connected, often without having read the work). The skimming of the glory years makes this book a rip off from any point of view, let alone the negative twisting of all things Marc whenever Jones is at the helm.

So the question is: How will Marc's real fans feel about this disgraceful piece of trash? I'll end by quoting Marc Bolan himself:

`The heat's on, mister ... can't you hear them scream?'

So far, though, I can't; which is really the saddest part of this farce.
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on 9 February 2017
This is a birthday gift for later in the year but I am aware that it is a good read.
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on 26 December 2016
5*
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