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Watch this Unmissable Film of Marc Bolan Playing His Late ‘50s Gibson Les Paul with T. Rex in the Heyday of Glam Rock

Marc Bolan with Gibson Les Paul in 1972.
Marc Bolan pictured with his late '50s Gibson Les Paul in 1972. (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

On this day in 1977, rock icon Marc Bolan sadly passed away after the car he was travelling in collided with a tree in Barnes, southwest London. He was 29 years old. Following his untimely death, Bolan’s musical legacy continued to thrive, as countless punk, indie and new wave artists drew on his unique style for inspiration.

In this incredible concert film from 1972 (shot by Apple Films with the assistance of Ringo Starr and recorded onboard The Rolling Stones’ Mobile Studio by Tony Visconti), Bolan plays to a 10,000-strong crowd at London’s Empire Pool while fronting his band T. Rex. 

At this time, the glam rock pioneers were riding high with three U.K. number one singles to their name (Hot Love, Get It On, and Telegram Sam) while their Electric Warrior album had peaked at the top spot in the U.K. album charts for no less than eight weeks.

Marc Bolan and Ringo Starr, 1972

Marc Bolan and Ringo Starr, 1972 (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Bolan was a guitar fanatic who enjoyed playing a variety of instruments including an Olympic White Fender Strat and an Epiphone acoustic guitar (as seen in this concert footage), along with a Flying V, SG and custom-made Zemaitis guitar. But it was his late '50s Gibson Les Paul that arguably drew the most attention.

T-Rex, on stage during a soundcheck on the group's four-date British tour, June 1972

Marc Bolan playing his Gibson Les Paul during a T. Rex soundcheck in 1972 (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

In this film, Bolan’s famous Les Paul can be seen sporting its original neck (which was later broken and replaced by a Les Paul Custom neck). The guitar was previously stripped and refinished by Bolan, while the exposed pickups reveal a black and ‘zebra’ bobbin set of humbuckers. 

A replica of this guitar – the Marc Bolan Les Paul – was introduced by the Gibson Custom Shop in a limited run of 100 aged instruments in 2011, complete with the later Les Paul Custom-style neck and orange-y “Bolan Chablis” finish.

Buy Electric Warrior here.

T. Rex 'Electric Warrior' album cover artwork

T. Rex Electric Warrior (Image credit: Fly/Reprise)

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.