The Japanese 7” for Cuddly Toys’ cover of ‘Madman.’ A song written by David Bowie and Marc Bolan.
We always had ideas above our station, and wanted to be a bit more interesting than the rest of the punk groups who only wanted to sing about being poor and ugly, even though we were poor and ugly.
—Faebhean Kwest, Cuddly Toys guitarist
I know that many of you die-hard glam rockers out there will probably already own the stellar album Guillotine Theatre by Cuddly Toys (which was originally released in Japan in 1979 then remixed and released in the UK a year later). However, if you do not, then I’d highly advise you that you add this fantastic record to your collection as soon as possible.
Originally known by the not-so-catchy name of “Raped”—the title of their first EP was also a cringer called Pretty Paedophiles, yikes!—the band’s guitarist Faebhean Kwest, claims that he was once asked by Malcolm McLaren to audition for the Sex Pistols, but turned the offer down. Early in 1979, the band changed their name to the less aggressive sounding Cuddly Toys at the suggestion of none other than legendary Radio One DJ, John Peel. Influenced by bands like Richard Hell and the Voidoids and (naturally) the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols, the Toys boys were soon rubbing shoulders with many of their idols like Sid Vicious and Generation X.
Shortly before Marc Bolan’s untimely death in 1977, he co-wrote the song, “Madman” with David Bowie. Recordings and rough demos of the sessions in which “Madman” was birthed exist. The Cuddly Toys covered the song and released the track as their very first single. To help promote the song Cuddly Toys played a gig at The Music Machine in London. According to an interview with the band, the show was attended by a few famous admirers such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Paul McCartney—not too shabby of a start for the up-and-coming glam rockers who would call it quits in the early 80s.
Danielz, the vocalist for the T. Rex tribute band, T. Rextasy sitting on the customized Marc Bolan Lambretta scooter.
In May of 2012, this vintage, customized Lambretta scooter plastered with images of T. Rex frontman, Marc Bolan sold for a whopping $17,372.22 in an Ebay auction. And once you see the images of said scooter, you’ll understand why.
Customized Marc Bolan Lambretta scooter.
Made in Italy, this model of Lambretta (a “TV 175” according to the listing) was manufactured in 1964. The seller, who aptly dubbed the tricked out ride “20th Century Toy,” completely rebuilt the engine before a team of experts “glamified” the scooter in nearly every possible way. Such as the addition swan-shaped mirrors, the modification to the Lambretta’s handlebars that include an engraved nod to T. Rex’s smash from their 1972 album The Slider, “Metal Guru,” as well as the brake & clutch levers which were cleverly fashioned into Gibson “Flying V” guitars. Bolan was fond of using the Gibson Flying V during the 1970s, and one owned by the “Jeepster” himself sold for $36,000 at a Christie’s “Pop Memorabilia” auction in 2007.
More photos of what possibly may be the coolest scooter ever, follow.
Arrows and the original version of the “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” single, 1975
I’m quite sure that everyone reading this has heard the anthemic “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” that was popularized by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 1981. But if you don’t know the origins of the song, then you’ve probably never heard of the Arrows, a rock trio comprised of musicians from both America and the UK—vocalist and Bronx native, Alan Merrill (the former vocalist for the cult glam band Vodka Collins), guitarist Jake Hooker (who went on to manage acts like The Knack and Edgar Winter), and UK drummer Paul Varley. Otherwise known as the band that actually wrote and recorded “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” back in 1975.
A shot of Arrows performing on their TV show
As the folklore goes, Jett was on tour with The Runaways in the UK when she caught Arrows (who formed in 1974) performing the song on their short-lived television show Arrows. Produced by well-known television personality, actress and producer, Muriel Young (who was also behind Marc Bolan’s show, Marc), the 30-minute show which was broadcast between 1976 and 1977, and featured the band performing their own songs—many prodcued by the great pop impressario Mickie Most—as well as “star guest” segments from acts like Slade, and a short-haired version of Marc Bolan who lip-synced in front a live studio audience.
As glammy and cool as The Arrows were (and they really were), they never enjoyed the same success with the single that Jett’s version of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” did, and the band broke up after the the last run of their eponymously titled show, sometime in 1978. Jake Hooker married Lorna Luft, the daughter of Judy Garland and the half-sister of Liza Minnelli during his tenure with Arrows and they stayed together until 1993.
It’s a topic that needs to be tackled definitively by the cybersleuths of Snopes.com: DID Marc Bolan, in fact, play guitar on Ike & Tina Turner’s classic “Nutbush City Limits” in 1973? Or was it Ike? Or neither of them?
Although many have tried to get to the bottom of it in recent years, no one seems to really know. Allegedly Tina Turner herself confirmed, in a BBC radio interview that it was indeed Marc Bolan playing guitar on the song. But where is that elusive radio interview? Someone has a memory of it. That memory then gets repeated and “quoted” and ultimately once something comes up enough times in a Google search it becomes a “fact.” True. Or at least true enough.
Typical of the period, none of the session musicians who contributed to “Nutbush City Limits” were given specific mention in the song credits. It has been rumored for years that Marc Bolan, frontman for the glam rock band T. Rex, played guitar on the track. Gloria Jones, his girlfriend at the time—who herself provided backing vocals for Ike & Tina Turner during the 1960s—asserted that this was the case in the 2007 BBC4 documentary Marc Bolan: The Final Word. This claim is bolstered by the fact that Bolan toured the U.S. extensively and resided in the Los Angeles area during the mid-1970s, and is also acknowledged to have played on the Ike & Tina Turner singles “Sexy Ida (Part 2)” and “Baby—Get It On.” However, a 2008 Ebony magazine article about Ike Turner’s death identified James “Bino” Lewis, then a member of Ike & Tina’s backing band Kings of Rhythm, as the guitarist. It has also been suggested that James Lewis is the guitarist on “Baby—Get It On.”
He played on “City Limits” with Ike and Tina Turner. I’ll never forget. I called Ike and said we’re in town and he said, ‘We’re in the studio; you guys come down.’ Marc took his guitar; Tina and I were listening to the song while Marc and Ike were working out their guitar part. Ike said to Marc, “Play what you feel.” That’s when Marc put that “chink, chink” you hear on there. Ike and Tina also really admired him, and they appreciated a lot of the rock acts.
Gloria Jones ought to know. After all, she was there.
‘Tis the Season folks and as I’m getting ready to roll off Dangerous Minds for a week, I wanted to share some choice photos of famous folks dressed up like our savior, Santa Claus or in some cases, just hanging out with jolly old Saint Nicholas.
Marc Bolan as Santa Claus
I really never get tired of pursuing the Internet for vintage images of celebrities and musical icons doing stuff that we all do, but I think this post is a doozy. I had all but forgotten about that time Nancy Reagan sat on Mr. T’s lap (who was dressed as Santa) at the White House during Christmas in 1983. Didn’t you?
From icons like Frank Zappa to Marc Bolan, even John Waters being confronted by Santa as he’s trying to steal a rib roast, and Ginger Rogers looking downright Cockettish in a Santa beard, I’ve got your Christmas covered in photos that are funny, touching and simply weird. Which is exactly how I like to roll. Merry Christmas, Dangerous Minds readers and thanks for digging us this year.
Nancy Reagan and Mr. T at the White House during Christmas, 1983
Wait until you see the one of a young Johnny Thunders, after the jump…
Before he became known as the “Marc Bolan” we all know and still love (you know - the guitar-wielding god-of-glam done up with eyeliner and with tons of hair?), Bolan was still going by his birth name “Mark Feld,” and resembled Donovan more than his soon-to-be bonafide rockstar self.
Marc Bolan (who was still using his birth name of “Mark Feld”) at age fifteen modeling as a “John Temple Boy” in 1962 (far right)
A young Marc, early to mid-60s
When he was just fifteen, Bolan did a little modeling as a “John Temple Boy,” (for John Temple menswear) sporting a short, mod haircut and Savile Row-style clothing. A far cry from his future, super-glammy “I’m gonna suck you” look that Bolan would go on to cultivate during his days with T.Rex. Even the publicity photos for Bolan’s first single with Decca, 1965s “The Wizard” feature a nearly unrecognizable short-haired version of Bolan.
In the 2001 book, Glam Musik: British Glam Music ‘70 History, Bolan’s future publicist Keith Altham said Marc would frequently walk into a bar called the Brewmaster with his new record in tow proclaiming that he was going to be “the greatest thing since Elvis Presley.” And he sure wasn’t wrong about that bit. Loads of photos of a young Marc Bolan (many of which were taken in the early to mid-60s), follow.
Beat writer Alexander Trocchi was wise to the easy money to be made from selling handwritten drafts of famous works of literature. When short of cash for his drug habit, Trocchi would write out in longhand one of his novels (Young Adam, White Thighs, whichever) and sell it on to some collector as the one and only original handwritten manuscript. It kept him from finding a job or worse, from writing something new. Across London and Paris there’s probably dozens of these supposed “originals” cobbled together by Trocchi in his moment of need.
If Trocchi had lived and tried the same today, he would probably have been found out for his ruse as the market for original handwritten drafts to books, poetry and pop songs is now a mega business.
Last year, Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for “Like A Rolling Stone” was sold at auction for $2 million. In 2005, John Lennon’s pen-drafted words for “All You Need is Love” made $1.25 million at auction, while in April 2015, Don Maclean’s handwritten lyric sheet for “American Pie” sold for $1,205,000.
Handwritten pop lyrics are as valuable as works of art—in fact they are works of art—as in this digital age where everything is written by keyboard, the value of such pen-scrawled texts on legal pad or hotel note paper only increase in value year on year. Though the top ten most expensive lyric sheets are about 2/3 the work of John Lennon (4) and Bob Dylan (2), there are plenty of other musicians out there who are finding their first drafts to popular songs offer them or their inheritors a comfortable pension.
David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Jean Genie’ made $29,063 at auction.
Bowie: Lyric detail for ‘Jean Genie.’
Ziggy jams with a ballpoint pen: David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Ziggy Stardust.’
One of Nick Cave’s many notebooks with original lyrics for ‘No Pussy Blues.’
Cave’s typed lyrics for ‘Push the Sky Away.’
No notebook or typewriter for Joey Ramone—the lyrics for ‘Disassembled’ were written on an old Alka Seltzer box.
A shot of Marc Bolan of T-Rex performing on UK kids music TV show, Supersonic
There are days I really, really love my job. Lucky for you, this is one of them, because I can’t wait to share this super intimate (as well as sort of strange) footage of T.Rex, The Damned, and Thin Lizzy performing on the short-lived kids Britpop-music television show awesomely titled, Supersonic.
Supersonic annual from 1977 featuring Bay City Rollers, David Essex and the star of the show Mike Mansfield
The show was hosted by producer Mike Mansfield, and was targeted to kids and teens as well as filmed in front of a screaming audience full of them - hence its afternoon time slot.
Supersonic only ran for a couple of years and would feature musical performances from all kinds of groups. Some that would distinctly appeal to the shows targeted demographic like the Bay City Rollers, but there were also appearances by legendary rock musicians and glam bands like The Sweet, Slade, Ginger Baker, and The Kinks. I gotta say that the footage of Thin Lizzy doing “Wild One” from their 1975 record, Fighting on Supersonic is really something special. And after you watch it, you can’t help but hope that it made a lasting impression on the lucky kids in that studio.
Phil Lynott on Supersonic
A strange aside - Gary Glitter also made several appearances on the show. Which of course in retrospect sounds like a terrible fucking idea as Glitter’s activities that earned him the title of “pedophile” date back to 1975. Yikes. Anyway, I can’t think of any better way to cleanse your mind of my previous statement than watching a certain Marc Bolan getting doused by a giant bubble machine while lip-synching (and gyrating) his glittery heart out to his 1975 single, “Dreamy Lady.”
T.Rex performing “Dreamy Lady” on the UK kids show, Supersonic
Although a famous Vogue magazine cover shot by Patrick Lichfield of Marsha Hunt, naked, with a huge Afro, as a London cast member of Hair is an indisputably and quintessentially iconic image of the 1960s, Hunt remains under the radar of most music fans. For one (quite good) reason, there are exactly zero CDs of her music on the market currently and there is nothing on iTunes or Spotify either. This is too bad, because she made some worthwhile music during her career. However, some pretty great clips of her live on European TV have been popping up on YouTube and many of her better known singles have made it to some audio blogs as well, so there’s plenty for me to illustrate here what still makes Hunt the object of cult fascination. Eventually, I have no doubt, she’ll be rediscovered by music nerds. It’s about time…
Hunt, an insanely gorgeous, highly-intellectual 19-year-old model, originally from Philly, went to UC Berkeley, smoked pot, dropped acid and marched alongside Jerry Rubin protesting the Vietnam war. She moved to swinging London in 1966 and married Mike Ratledge of the Soft Machine so she could stay in the country (and is still married to him to this day, although they have not been together for decades). She sang backup vocals for blues great Alexis Korner and became a cast member of Hair, playing “Dionne” in the West End production. A photo of Hunt by Justin de Villeneuve was used on the poster and Playbill of the London production.
There’s very, very little surviving footage of the London production of Hair—which opened on September 27, 1968, one day after the abolition of theatre censorship, allowing for nudity and profanity onstage—but I did find this amazing clip of “Black Boys/White Boys.” Marsha Hunt, looking stunning, comes into view at about one minute in:
He had a mime act and used to open up the show. He didn’t sing at all but had a tape going and he’d act out a story about a Tibetan boy.
Mime act? Tape going? Tibetan boy? It can only be another reminiscence of David Bowie’s early years in showbiz. But this one is special: it comes from a Melody Maker feature by Bowie’s friend and sometime rival Marc Bolan. It appeared in print just six months before Bolan’s tragic death in a car crash.
I came across Bolan’s article, “Music-Hall Humorist,” in the foxed and brittle pages of David Bowie, A Chronology, a relic from the Let’s Dance era. “Music-Hall Humorist” first appeared in the March 12, 1977 issue of Melody Maker, a number that was heavy with Bowie-related news. Published during the Thin White Duke’s annus mirabilis, the issue featured both Iggy and Bowie on the cover, and the headline screamed LOU REED DUE.
The article reads more like a transcript of Bolan talking to a reporter than something he sweated out over a typewriter, but who knows? Maybe it was laboriously composed over a period of several weeks. Sure it was…
David is a great singer . . . he can sing anything, almost. I remember him when he was in The Lower Third and he used to go to gigs in an ambulance. I used to think he was very professional. He was playing saxophone then and singing. I suppose it was a blues band then and he was produced by Shel Talmy.
He did a record which I’m sure everybody has forgotten. It was ‘Pop Art’ – yer actual feedback. I can’t remember what it was called.
After that he went to Decca around the time I was doing ‘The Wizard’. He was into . . . bombardiers then. Don’t you remember ‘The Little Bombardier’?
He was very Cockney then. I used to go round to his place in Bromley and he always played Anthony Newley records. I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I guess that was how he got into mime.
Newley did mime in Stop the World I Wanna Get Off. The funny thing is that ‘The Laughing Gnome’, which was one of David’s biggest singles here, came from that early period.
It came at the height of his supercool image. And that’s very ‘Strawberry Fair’ . . . ‘the donkey’s eaten all the strawberries!’ That was his biggest single, so it just shows you it doesn’t pay to be cool, man!
Rock ‘n’ Roll suicide hit the dust and the laughing gnomes took over. We were all looking for something to get into then. I wanted to be Bob Dylan, but I think David was looking into that music-hall humour.
It was the wrong time to do it, but all his songs were story songs, like ‘London Boys’. They had a flavour, with very square kinda backings.
But in those days there weren’t any groovy backings being laid down. I think if he played back those records now he’d smile at them, because he was an unformed talent then. He was putting together the nucleus of what he was eventually going to be.
When he had ‘Space Oddity’ he was on tour with me in Tyrannosaurus Rex. He had a mime act and used to open up the show. He didn’t sing at all but had a tape going and he’d act out a story about a Tibetan boy. It was quite good actually, and we did the Festival Hall with Roy Harper as well.
I remember David playing me ‘Space Oddity’ in his room and I loved it and said he needed a sound like the Bee Gees, who were very big then. The stylophones he used on that, I gave him. Tony Visconti turned me onto stylophones.
The record was a sleeper for months before it became a hit, and I played on ‘Prettiest Star’, you know which I thought was a great song, and it flopped completely.
But I never got the feeling from David that he was ambitious. I remember he’d buy antiques if he had a hit, when he should have saved his money. David got his drive to be successful once I’d done it with the T. Rex thing. At the beginning of the seventies it was the only way to go.
“It’s so easy, a baby could learn to play it in fifteen minutes”: an ad for the Stylophone
David Bowie, A Chronology also includes this unsourced anecdote from March 1977:
While in London, David is taken for lunch to Toscanini’s in the Kings Road by Marc Bolan. After the meal, David and Bolan, both slightly drunk, wandered down the Kings Road singing. At one point, when in view of a packed open-topped double-decker bus full of school children, the two jumped up and down trying to attract the children’s attention shouting alternately, ‘I’m David Bowie’, and ‘I’m Marc Bolan’. Although the school children were none too interested in their antics, they did manage to attract some Bowie fans who couldn’t believe their luck when David obliged with an autograph and a chat.
I’m not sure if this is the “pop art” single Bolan was trying to recall, but here’s Bowie (in the Manish Boys) singing “I Pity The Fool” in 1965. Shel Talmy produced and Jimmy Page played lead guitar. (Be warned: there’s six seconds of silence before the song starts.)
John Peel intros this early on—and I do mean really early on, he’d just left John’s Children—performance by his chum Marc Bolan’s brand new “little group,” Tyrannosaurus Rex.
After a single disastrous gig with a four-piece rock group, Bolan slimmed the act down to just himself and wild-man bongo player Steve Peregrin Took.
The duo are seen here performing in the legendary psychedelic nightclub, Middle Earth in late 1967. Tyrannosaurus Rex were one of the most regular acts to play the club, along with Soft Machine, Tomorrow, The Deviants and the Graham Bond Organization.
The number, “Sarah Crazy Childe,” was a John’s Children b-side written by Marc.
If there’s an earlier clip of Tyrannosaurus Rex, I’ve not seen it.
What started out as a desire to spend some time looking at photos of the forever young Marc Bolan (we’ve all been there), led me to spend many satisfying hours in a glam rock rabbit hole full of feather boas, and mind-boggling sparkly menswear. Among the thousands of images of Bolan that caught my eye were a few that had the electric warrior riding on top of things. No big deal you say? I mean, if you’ve seen one rock icon riding on top of a horse while out of their mind, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong. To prove my point, here is a collection of six photos with Marc Bolan riding on top of everything from a shiny toy tank to a tiger.
Marc Bolan and Gloria Jones at Rod Stewart’s party at Morton’s on the night that he died.
Although many of his songs refer to cars, Marc Bolan himself was deathly afraid of driving, fearing a young death. Despite owning his famous white Rolls-Royce (among many other ostentatious vehicles) he never learned how to master an automobile. On September 16, 1977, two weeks before Bolan would have turned 30, returning from a party thrown by Rod Stewart, he was killed when the purple Mini being driven by his girlfriend, American soul singer Gloria Jones (she recorded the original version of Ed Cobb’s “Tainted Love”) hit a chainlink fence and then a tree near Gypsy Lane in Southwest London. Neither passenger was wearing a seatbelt. The accident occurred less than one mile from Bolan’s mansion in East Sheen.
The funeral held four days later at the Golders Green Crematorium was attended by Les Paul, Rod Stewart, Bolan producer Tony Visconti, Eric Clapton and a contingent of sobbing fans. A swan-shaped floral arrangement calling to mind Bolan’s first big hit record, “Ride a White Swan” was displayed at the ceremony. Gloria Jones, hospitalized with a broken jaw and arm was not to find out about Marc’s death until the day of his funeral. Within a few days their home was looted by thieves.
The crash site has become a shrine to his memory with fans making pilgrimages to leave flowers and tributes and is maintained by the T.Rex Action Group. Today Gloria Jones runs a charity dedicated to Bolan’s memory in Sierra Leone.
The images here are courtesy of a new website devoted to nostalgia, Flashbak and the Press Association. Follow Flashbak on Twitter and Facebook.
A young couple comfort each other in front of the floral white swan.
Members of Marc Bolan’s family. Gloria Jones’ brother, Richard Jones, in hat behind them.
Rolan Bolan’s godfather David Bowie—who would quietly provide for Gloria and Rolan and paid for his education—arrives at the service.
Rod Stewart and friend.
What was left of the purple Mini.
If you go to the 4:15 mark below, you’ll see color footage of Marc Bolan’s funeral.
The Château d’Hérouville where David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, The Sweet and Fleetwood Mac recorded is up for sale.
Located near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, in France, the property is described as a coaching station, built in the 18th century, which includes 30-rooms, and 1,700m ² of living space.
The selling price is 1, 295, 000 Euros.
In 1962, composer Michel Magne purchased the property and developed it into a recording studio. Magne is best known for his Oscar win for Gigot.
The Château was particularly popular with British artists, starting with Elton John, who recorded three albums at the studios, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. Elton suggested the studio to Marc Bolan where he recorded his 1972 album The Slider; and Bolan recommended it to David Bowie who record Pin-Ups in July 1973, and then Low in 1977.
But the Château wasn’t just known for its considerable musical pedigree. Producer Tony Visconti claimed star-crossed lovers Frederic Chopin and George Sand haunted the building—Chopin had trysted with Sand while living at the mansion. Bowie also noted the studios supernatural feel.