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35 Years Ago: Marc Bolan of T. Rex Dies

T. Rex
Gary Merrin / Hulton Archive, Getty Images

It’s sad to say, but it’s been 35 years since rock and roll lost one of its greatest talents – T. Rex leader Marc Bolan. On that fateful night of Sept. 16, 1977, Bolan and his girlfriend Gloria Jones were returning home after a dinner when the vehicle she was driving left the road, smashed through a fence and came to a stop upon hitting a sycamore tree. Bolan, who was a passenger and whose side of the vehicle took the brunt of the impact, was thrown into the back of the car and killed instantly.

The official cause of death was “shock and hemorrhage” due to multiple injuries consistent with a road traffic accident. The vocalist, born Mark Feld, was gone at the age of 29, just a couple weeks shy of his 30th birthday.

The music world was in shock as Bolan, who had become one of the leaders of the Glam Rock scene, was taken in an instant. Rod Stewart, Elton John, and David Bowie were among the mourners at his funeral at the Golders Green Crematorium. Meanwhile, Cliff Richard, Keith Moon, and Gary Glitter were among those who sent along flowers in honor of the late rocker.

At the time of his death, Bolan was piecing his life back together as his first marriage had ended and his health began to fail due to his cocaine addiction. However, the birth of his son in 1975 started him on a comeback path and he had just shot a TV special prior to the night of his death and was planning new music and a tour.

Bolan’s son Rolan, who was not in the vehicle and was only 20 months old at the time at the accident, returned to the site of the crash years later where he unveiled a monument to his late father and announced his intentions to pursue music as a career. In 2007, the 30th anniversary of Bolan’s death, the site was officially recognized as Marc Bolan’s Rock Shrine by the English Tourist Board in their ‘England Rocks’ guidebook.

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