Gloria gave birth to Marc’s son in September 1975, whom they named Rolan Bolan (although his birth certificate lists him as ‘Rolan Seymour Feld’; compare David Bowie’s son Zowie Bowie). That same year, Bolan returned to the UK from tax exile in the U.S. and Monaco and to the public eye with a low-key tour. Bolan made regular appearances on the LWT pop show Supersonic, directed by his old friend Mike Mansfield and released a succession of singles, but he never regained the success of his glory days of the early 1970s. The last remaining member of Bolan’s halcyon era T. Rex, Currie, left the group in late 1976.
In early 1977, Bolan got a new band together, released a new album, Dandy in the Underworld, and set out on a fresh UK tour, taking along punk band The Damned as support to entice a young audience who did not remember his heyday. Granada Television commissioned Bolan to front a six-part series called Marc, where he introduced new and established bands and performed his own songs. By this time Bolan had lost weight, appearing as trim as he had during T. Rex’s earlier heyday. The show was broadcast during the post-school half-hour on ITV earmarked for children and teenagers; it was a big success. One episode reunited Bolan with his former John’s Children-bandmate Andy Ellison, then fronting the band Radio Stars. The last episode featured a unique Bolan “duet” with David Bowie during which Bolan fell off the stage before the singing had commenced. With no time for a retake, this occurrence was aired and Bowie’s amusement was clearly visible.
Bolan died on 16 September 1977, two weeks before his 30th birthday. He was a passenger in a purple Mini 1275GT (registration FOX 661L) driven by Gloria Jones as they headed home from Mortons drinking club and restaurant in Berkeley Square. Jones lost control of the car and it struck a sycamore tree after failing to negotiate a small humpback bridge near Gipsy Lane on Queens Ride, Barnes, southwest London. Bolan died instantly, while Jones suffered a broken arm and broken jaw and spent time in hospital; she did not learn of Bolan’s death until the day of his funeral. Bolan’s home, which was less than a mile away at 142 Upper Richmond Road West in East Sheen, was quickly looted. Fans quickly turned the site of the crash into a shrine and in 2007 the site was officially recognised as Bolan’s Rock Shrine.
At Bolan’s funeral, attended by David Bowie and Rod Stewart, a swan-shaped floral tribute was displayed outside the service in recognition of his breakthrough hit single. His funeral service was at the Golders Green Crematorium which is a secular provision in North London. Bolan himself stated that he was Jewish, the religion of his father. However, because his mother was not a Jew he would be considered a gentile under Orthodox Jewish law (Halakha). His ashes were buried at Golders Green Crematorium.
Bolan never learned to drive, fearing a premature death. Despite this fear, cars or automotive components are at least mentioned in, if not the subject of, many of his songs. He also owned a number of vehicles, including a famed white Rolls-Royce, which had been lent by his management to Hawkwind on the night of his death.
Fellow T. Rex member Steve Currie also died in a car crash less than four years later.