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It seems to me that almost every number of NME in 1972 featured an article about Marc Bolan and T. Rex. They were, without a doubt, one of the hottest attractions around at this time in history. I chose to print this interview because it is a nice document of an extremely excited Bolan at what would possibly be one of the happiest times in his short life. Enjoy reading, man! 😉
Bolan and America
By Ritchie Yorke
In a recent interview in New York I found Marc Bolan, a breathless young musician in such a hurry that he barely had enough time to provide me with a progress report.
Bolan is the new grand star of the American rock scene in the true English tradition and – even if only a scant few of us realise his success was not as would appear, an overnight event – his new-found fame clearly becomes him.
After a string of number one hit singles, unrivalled since the booming of the Beatles across England and Europe, Bolan has, of course, finally brought home his talents to the North American market, which hitherto had completely ignored him.
In the past couple of years, U.S. taste makers have become increasingly wary of obediently grabbing onto foreign success stories, particularly British.
As a result of this it took Yes a full 18 months to ultimately equal their U.K. triumphs in NOrth America; Slade have yet to make any impression here, despite their recent English upsurge; and although Lindisfarne are beginning to nudge the market the like of Gilbert O`Sullivan remain relatively unknown.
It would seem that the days have gone when every English musical discovery, no matter how minor, automatically broke through into the States.
Be that as it may, T. Rex (or more precisely, Marc Bolan) have finally begun to make their presence acutely felt on these shores. “Bang a Gong” (“Get It On”) made the U.S. top five (unlike earlier singles, which flopped) and the “Electric Warrior” album also made the LP Top 50.
Bolan is aware of this and more. He came onto the phone for an interview on his last visit here, and within 30 seconds, I felt like I`d known him for years. He has that sort of overwhelming manner.
“Hi man. Whew. It`s too incredible for words. Dynamite. I must admit I was surprised it happened so fast. So much is happening. I`ve just spent an hour with John Lennon. It was incredible.
“I`d been trying to get hold of him for three days to invite him to our gig at Carnegie Hall. But we just couldn`t get hold of him. I mean, they`ve got to screen the calls. There`d be 2,000 groupies ringing him up every day. I finally got to him after the concert, and I found out he had wanted to go but couldn`t get tickets.”
And how was the redoubtable Mr. Lennon? “He`s fine. Fine. I`d never met him before. But I always felt strongly towards him and his music. He was saying something that got me.
“The Carnegie Hall gig was incredible. I thought I saw Paul Simon dancing in the aisle, and when I came off, I found out it was Paul Simon. He`d just bought a ticket, man, and came in and got off on it. It`s so nice. That`s rock`n`roll, man. I hope.
“You`ll have to excuse me. I`m slightly loose at the moment. There`s just so much happening. Yeah, it was a beautiful gig at Carnegie Hall. It couldn`t have been better. On the whole tour, we`ve drawn more people than I ever expected. We had 15,000 in Philadelphia. Incredible.
“Yeah…something`s happening here for T. Rex at last. I never thought America was going to come into it. I`m happy in that it happened the way I always wanted it – just people to people. I told myself we had to come and play here before it would happen.
“We`d been here once before…in May of last year. But it was much too premature. I`d only just begun to establish the way in which I`m working now. It wasn`t ready. We really hadn`t tried it out in England, and we then made the mistake of trying it first in America. This time we came with our shit together, man.
“And the people who know their music have been getting off on it. Like Mick Jagger. Mick came along to see us in Los Angeles, and told me it was the best thing he`d seen since the last Stones` concert. He was really rockin`…everyone wants to rock. That`s what it`s all about.
I mean, as a musician – sometimes you`re bad, sometimes you`re good. Most of the time on this tour we`ve been good.
“Did you hear that we sold out the Wembley concerts in London? That really did my head in. Yet for all the crap of making it or whatever, I`m still pleased just to be able to make records. John Lennon`s the same.
“The record sales figures are becoming frightening. It just does my head in. You know they sold 500,000 copies of `Telegram Sam` in England in only two days? Two days man! And it`s still on the charts – number two I think. I didn`t know there were that many people in England. I`m pleased it`s going down the charts now. I didn`t want it to be a hit for too long.
“Hot Love” was a real freaker. It was number one in Britain when I went away for a five-week European tour. It was still number one when we got back. That was incredible.
“The American thing is incredible because we were doing well for 18 months around the world before anything happened here. We were absolutely unknown in America all that time…I don`t kid myself. Nobody knew about us except a very small cult.
“It`s all the more amazing to get these incredible sales figures when you realise that we were lucky to have sold 500 copies of the first album three years ago.
“Singles have been terribly important. So many people said I was wrong when we started making singles. I`m pleased I was right. You need the singles for flash, and the albums for substance. I mean, as far as rock`n `roll goes, that`s it. Singles and albums. Then comes movies, opera – whatever you`re into.”
I asked him if he`d managed to get into any exciting new sounds by other artists during the U.S. tour.
“There`s not a lot of good things happening at present. I did hear a group called the Persuasions, who were doing the best vocal things I`ve ever heard in my life.
“Mick Jagger turned me onto that record by Betty Wright…`Clean Up Woman`. Have you heard it? It`s nice. Obviously I like the Neil Young single.”
I wondered if the pace of it all would not start to get to him.
“No man. We love it. But we`re really worn down. I haven`t slept for a couple of days. I need some time off. We`ve just been rockin` about. It`s still a joyous thing to experience. I know it will become a bore, but now it`s still pleasureable. And I want to make the most of it.”
The advertising was great at the start of the 70s. I really like the style!
This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Joe Cocker, Gilbert O`Sullivan, Stephen Stills, Alvin Lee, Miss Flo Bender, Chicago, Jimmy Savile, Doors, Strawbs, Tom Jones, Middle of the Road, Brenda Lee, David Cassidy, America.
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