Marc Bolan died on September 16th 1977, two weeks before his thirtieth birthday. This is going to sound awful but, at the time, I was glad. Why? Well, because for several weeks before his fatal Mini crash I had been greatly troubled by a recurring nightmare where Marc was pursuing me around a canal boat as it made its way slowly through a tunnel. After he died, the bad dream went away. In hindsight, it's easy to see the root of the unease as a conflation of my incipient claustrophobia and my regular and nervous viewing of Bolan's ITV music show 'Marc'.
'Marc' may have been a kids TV show, but it was the most exposure Bolan had enjoyed for some time and he went all out to make the most of it. That said, it's pretty poor, and Marc is terrifying in it. Tiny, skinny, pale, whispery, narcissistic and in a selection of revealing trousers, I now realise, of course, that he's just camping it up but I still think he's an incredibly androgynous and ambiguous figure to be in charge of entertaining children, especially as he seems lost in a private reverie most of the time, a mocking and lacivious look on his elfin face. Perhaps most disturbing to a young mind was that the last two episodes were broadcast posthumously, one a mere four days after his death.
The music is fairly average, too. I'm not a massive T Rex fan by any means, but I do listen to them and understand the pop appeal of their best stuff. Here, Marc mixes new and banal material with pre-re-recorded sludgy pub rock versions of his greatest hits to underwhelming effect and his guests, carefully picked never to outshine the underperforming star, are, for the most part, either forgettable, regrettable or unforgivable.
I have several clips I intend to share with you but, first off, do you remember one of Marc's very early hits, 'Oh Deborah, you look like a zebra'? Yeah, that one, the whimsical, quirky acoustic number with hippy dippy charm and an interesting time signature. Well, watch it die.
Here's an example of one of the guest bands on the show, most of which sank without trace. Sub Bay City Rollers band Rosetta Stone's main claim to fame was that they featured Ian Mitchell, a baby faced guitarist from Northern Ireland who had been in the actual Bay City Rollers for seven troubled months. Ian Mitchell's main claim to fame is that his brother Tony wallpapered my front room.
More soon, same Marc time, same Marc channel.