On 16th September 1977, two weeks before his 30th birthday, T Rex singer Marc was being driven home from a night out drinking in a Mayfair club. At the wheel of the Mini Clubman was his current partner, Gloria Jones, she of ‘Tainted Love’ Northern Soul fame. She misjudged a humpbacked bridge over the railway at Barnes and crashed the car into a sycamore tree, seriously injuring herself and killing Marc outright. The music world mourned, and the tree became a place of pilgrimage for thousands of devoted fans.
It’s a very random spot, at the top of a low embankment along the edge of a narrow lane. A row of upmarket detached houses runs behind a muddy track, and steps have been installed in front of number 10 so that visitors to the tree don’t have to risk their lives standing beside a safety barrier in the middle of the traffic. Quite a sizeable shrine has grown up over the years, endearingly random in places, of questionable taste in others. At the foot of the steps is a fake tombstone “in respectful memory”, on which (at present, and highly appropriately) is a ceramic white swan.
Opposite there’s a bronze bust of Marc, unveiled by his son, complete with metallic flowing 70s tresses. And up top, by the infamous unfortunate tree, are two noticeboards plastered with photos poems and messages left by fans. They’re all either laminated or in plastic pouches, which is just as well given the driving rain at the time I visited. Someone’s pinned up an old 45 of Telegram Sam at the centre, while hanging above are necklaces and lanterns and beads and an assortment of flowers of the mostly artificial kind. It’s all very genuine, and rather endearing, not least because of its incongruous location up an otherwise insignificant suburban lane…a very 20th century boy departed here…..
- Since 1999 TAG (T.Rex Action Group) have been the legal guardians of Marc Bolans’ Rock Shrine.
In 1995 ‘The Bolan Tree’ site was visited for an article in a Glossy Monthly Magazine, which truthfully described the site as “More like a shit-hole than a shrine” because of the litter & general air of neglect at the site. Then in 1998 – the press reported that the ‘Bolan Tree’, had “less than three years” before it would have to be felled! As a result, the T-Rex Action Group (TAG) was formed in 1999, by current secretary Fee Warner.
OFFICIAL LEGAL GUARDIANS OF ‘THE TREE’
In 2000 TAG became the legal leaseholders of the ‘Bolan Tree’ site, Gipsy Lane/Queen’s Ride, Barnes, London. The in perpetuity lease includes Full Ownership & Responsibility for the ‘Bolan Tree’. Visit the TAG website http://www.marc-bolan.org/