As a footnote to the following check out “A commemoration of Marc Bolan”
“20th Century Boy” introduced a new generation of devotees to Bolan’s work in 1991 when it was featured on a Levi’s jeans TV commercial featuring Brad Pitt, and was re-released, reaching the UK Top 20. The song was performed by the fictional band The Flaming Creatures (performed by Placebo, reprised by Placebo and David Bowie at the 1999 BRIT Awards) in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine. In every decade since his death, a Bolan greatest hits compilation has placed in the top 20 UK albums and periodic boosts in sales have come via cover versions from artists inspired by Bolan, including Morrissey and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Similarly, “I Love to Boogie” was briefly used on an advert for Robinson’s soft drink in 2001, bringing Bolan’s music to a new generation. Mitsubishi also featured “20th Century Boy” in a 2002 car commercial, prompting Hip-O Records to release a best-of collection CD titled 20th Century Boy: The Ultimate Collection.
His music is still widely used in films, recent notable cases being Breakfast on Pluto, Death Proof, Lords of Dogtown, Billy Elliot, Jarhead, Moulin Rouge!, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Breaking-Up, Hot Fuzz, Click, School of Rock & Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Bolan is still cited by many guitar-centric bands as a huge influence (Joy Division/New Order’s Bernard Sumner has said that the first single he owned was “Ride a White Swan”.) However, he always maintained he was a poet who put lyrics to music. The tunes were never as important as the words.
“Bolan used to hang around in our office and sit on the floor, strumming his guitar, flirting with our secretary, June, who, of course, he later married. He was a great Syd [Barrett] fan. I was quite fond of him. He was a big pain in the arse, of course, very full of himself. I always liked that thing where he called himself the Bolan child, this magical, mythical name. It was really from his doorbell in Ladbroke Grove. It had his name and our secretary’s surname, Child, so it read Bolan Child and fans used to think, wow, he is the Bolan Child!” (Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour)
An altogether less welcome legacy for his friends and family is the ongoing row about his fortune. Bolan had arranged a discretionary trust to safeguard his money. His death left the fortune beyond the reach of those closest to him and both his family and journalists have taken an active interest in investigating the situation, so far with little result other than bringing the story to wider attention. A small, separate Jersey-based trust fund has allowed his son to receive some income. However, the bulk of Bolan’s fortune, variously estimated at between £20 and £30 million pounds (approx $38 – $57 million), remains in trust. As of 2007, Bolan’s family is supposed to have a house paid for by the trust, and Rolan is supposed to receive an allowance.
Bolan returned to the top of the UK charts in 2005 when the remastered, expanded Born to Boogie DVD hit No. 1 in the Music DVD charts.
Steve Kilbey – a self-confessed Marc Bolan fan and singer for renowned Australian art-rock group The Church – performed Bolan’s “One Inch Rock” on the Steve Kilbey Live DVD, released in January 2008.
In 2006, it was revealed that English Heritage had refused to commission a blue plaque to commemorate Bolan, as they believed him to be of “insufficient stature or historical significance”. There is, however, an existing plaque dedicated to Bolan at his childhood home, put there by Hackney Council.
There are also two plaques dedicated to his memory at Golders Green Crematorium in North London. The second one to be displayed was placed there by the official Marc Bolan fan club and fellow fans in September 2002, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his passing. The inscription on the stone, which also bears his image, reads ’25 years on – his light of love still shines brightly’. Placed beneath the plaque there is an appropriate ceramic figure of a white swan.
In 2006, TV series Life on Mars, William Matheson portrays Marc Bolan, circa 1973, in a bar in Manchester. Time-travelling Sam Tyler recognises him, has a fan boy moment, and warns him to be careful of riding in Minis. In the American version of the series, the character is replaced by that of Jim Croce, who died later that year in a plane crash, and Sam warns him. However, the T. Rex version of “Get It On” is played in the New York dance club in that scene.
One of Bolan’s guitars, a Gibson Flying V, turned up on Antiques Roadshow in the hands of a private collector. The appraiser estimated the value of the guitar to be approximately £50,000–60,000.
A school is planned in his honour, to be built in Sierra Leone: The Marc Bolan School of Music and Film.
The Cameron Crowe-created movie “Almost Famous” features a scene where a Black Sabbath groupie is telling aspiring journalist William Miller (said to be created in Crowe’s own image) about how, “Marc Bolan broke her heart, man. It’s famous,” regarding the character of Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson.
My Chemical Romance’s song ‘Vampire Money’ taken from their album ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ released on 22 November 2010 features the lyric ‘glimmer like Bolan in the morning sun’, referencing Marc Bolan.
A musical, 20th Century Boy, based on Bolan’s life, and featuring his music, is due to premiere at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich in autumn 2011.