On this day : The 16th of September 1977

Marc Bolan dies in car crash

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It is perhaps unkind to say so, but death has proved a great career move for many rock musicians, though not one they would have chosen. High on that list is Marc Bolan , the founder of Glam Rock, leading light of the band T.Rex, the creative genius behind the wonderful Ride a White Swan and Jeepster. Bolan sold millions of records, though he never broke America. In an era where rock was descending into 15 minute drum solos and dull concept albums he produced short and beautiful pop songs with a danceable beat – the king of school discos but critically acclaimed too.
By 1977, however, though not yet 30, Bolan’s heyday seemed to be over. He was making TV shows and touring with The Damned as his support act, punk not glam already dominating the music scene. And the male beauty of his early career had gone. Bolan was returning to Barnes in the early hours of September 16 1977 in a mini 1275 GT driven by his American girlfriend Gloria Jones. It smashed through a fence and into a sycamore tree after cresting a small bridge. Bolan died instantly; Jones was hospitalised with a broken jaw and other injuries. Neither wore seat belts. The couple had been at a restaurant that night. Times change: reports then emphasised the moderation of their drinking that night. Summonsed to appear in court to face charges relating to the crash Miss Jones fled the country.

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