The OCMD has been planning this post for some time, but as of May 13, it became top priority. On May 13th at the Verdi Club, OCMD’s @indierockgirl, Julie, was treated to a surprise birthday party with live music provided by her local favorite Ty Segall. While shredding 2 guitar strings to pieces, Ty finished the set with a pogo-inducing cover of T.Rex’s “20th Century Boy”, and our new series was born: UNDER THE INFLUENCE. In this first installment we recognize the profound influence of T. Rex.
Marc Bolan founded Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1967 and released 4 essential albums before shortening the name to T. Rex, and making 8 more records including the most infamous, Electric Warrior, which held his biggest hit “Get it On (Bang a Gong)”. With a bit of glitter under his eyes and a deep sense of his feminine side, he single-handedly created glam rock- the first in a long line of androgynous rock idols (Bowie, Lou Reed, New York Dolls, and many more to come…). Tragically he died 2 weeks before his 30th birthday when his girlfriend drove his purple Mini into a tree less than a mile from his home.
Bands have been doing covers of Bolan’s work ever since (Big Star, Replacements, Shins, Yo La Tengo, Flaming Lips, Blondie, the Melvins, KMFDM, Elf Power, Teenage Fanclub, Bauhaus…..). But in recent years the first true echos of Bolan’s sound came via Devendra Banhart. His warbly singing, guitar style and dedication to freak folk revival are clearly influenced by T. Rex (as much as he denies it).
As posted on the OCMD last month, Indianapolis band Burnt Ones recently tipped a hat with “Gonna Listen to T-Rex (All Night Long)”. A great idea by the way as T. Rex does sound best after 2am.
Perhaps the most blatant rip off goes to Chicago’s excellent Smith Westerns -just check out “Girl in Love”. These kids are way too young to know T. Rex this well, yet they have the glam looks and Electric Warrior sound to truly honor the musical genius.
If you don’t own some of Bolan’s work, get to it. I know there is a lot of music out there and many of these recordings need a few listens to reveal themselves, but do yourself a favor, make time! Long live T. Rex, RIP Marc.