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.
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.
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.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.