The ten best T Rex songs: Glam rock icon Bolan made his Marc on pop with long list of chart hits

Marc Bolan performing in 1973 (Allstar Picture Library)
Marc Bolan performing in 1973 (Allstar Picture Library)

AS leader of T Rex, Marc Bolan’s singles were seldom out of the top three spots in the UK charts during the early 70s.

Between 1970 and the start of ’73, the band had nine top three hits in a row, including four No 1s.

Get It On, from 1971, was the only one to reach the US Top 10, but Bolan’s music is still celebrated over 40 years on.

Marc Bolan had rock stardom down to a T

A couple of singles recorded under the unwieldy Tyrannosaurus Rex name also did well, such as Debora, and a string of singles once again entered the charts following Marc’s untimely death.

Here, we select our Top 10 T Rex songs, all of which belted out of our radios throughout the 70s.

1 GET IT ON (1971)

THE late, great John Peel, BBC radio DJ who had been such a firm friend of Bolan, had disliked this song.

His criticism of it saw the pair fall out, and Marc only spoke to John once between that year and his death, in 1977.

That in itself was tragic, especially as the track was a true classic.

In America, it was called Bang A Gong, to avoid confusion with another song.

Marc said he based it on Chuck Berry’s Little Queenie, and you can hear him mutter the Berry lyric: “Meanwhile, I was still thinking . . .” as it fades out.

2 JEEPSTER (1971)

THE other wonderfully-catchy song from their Electric Warrior album, this was released as a single without Marc’s permission, but still reached No 2.

Give it another listen and see if you can spot the similarities to Roy Orbison’s You’re My Baby, which was written by Johnny Cash.

3 TELEGRAM SAM (1972)

MARC’S good mate David Bowie was about to storm the charts himself, but even Bowie must have looked at Bolan’s ability to churn out such addictive short hits and feel envy.

It went straight to top spot, the first of two No 1s from The Slider album.

At this point, Marc Bolan and T Rex could do no wrong, and a Top Of The Pops without them was a rare thing indeed.

4 METAL GURU (1972)

T REX’S final British No 1, this was about a kind of God, according to its writer.

It was once again produced by Tony Visconti, who also worked with David Bowie and was at one time married to Mary Hopkin.

Just as the Beatles and Stones would do some of their best stuff with a fair bit of competition between them, T Rex and Bowie would be inspired to greater heights by each other’s success.

In an era where the likes of Slade, Sweet and others seemed to batter out endless fantastically-catchy three-minute singles, Bolan was at the very top.

5 CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION (1972)

BOLAN was a master at writing songs with a chorus that you couldn’t get out of your head once it was in there.

The first version of this was recorded for the movie Born To Boogie, produced and directed by Ringo Starr and released on the Beatles’ Apple Films label.

It featured Ringo on drums and Elton John on piano, though the hit single was recorded by T Rex.

From Moulin Rouge to Billy Elliott, chances are you’ve heard it in a cinema.

6 SOLID GOLD EASY ACTION (1972)

YES, yet another hit single from 1972!

One of Marc’s strengths was his lyric writing, even much of what critics have called his “nonsense poetry”.

Indeed, one music writer noted the lines in this song that seemed to him to predict Marc’s death.

The first lines are “Life is the same and it always will be, Easy as picking foxes from a tree”.

When his car crashed into a tree and fence and killed him, its registration number was FOX 661L.

7 20TH CENTURY BOY (1973)

THIS made No 3 in 1973, and again No 13 years later, after being used for a Levi’s advert featuring Brad Pitt.

It was partly recorded in Japan, where Bolan was idolised, with later parts added in England.

Marc revealed that some of his lyrics were taken from memorable quotes by the likes of Muhammad Ali. The line “Sting like a bee,” for instance, was from a 1969 outburst by the boxing great.

8 DEBORA (1968)

A GOOD few years before T Rextacy saw Bolan take over the pop world, other-worldly singing style saw this reach No 34 in the charts.

Re-released at the peak of their powers, it reached No 7 in that amazing year 1972.

9 RIDE A WHITE SWAN (1970)

BOLAN was a huge rock ’n’ roll fan, and T Rex did their version of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues on the B-side.

Some critics reckon this song heralded the gam rock era, and this hit went up the charts, only being kept off top spot — maddeningly — by Clive Dunn’s Grandad.

Ah, God bless the 70s!

10 HOT LOVE (1971)

T REX’S first No 1 hit, it stayed at the top for six weeks.

The Beatles had split up the year before the song’s release, and many people were wondering what would replace Beatlemania.

The answer? T-Rexstasy.

The catchy song was an earworm and has remained many a fan’s favourite.

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