Why T. Rex's Induction Into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Could Cap Half Century Goal of Breaking America

T. Rex
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T. Rex

The caretakers of T. Rex's catalog and estate find an interesting irony to the section of the group for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Marc (Bolan) tried very hard to 'break the States' during the early 70s," Martin Barden of Britain’s Culture Consultants LTD, which has curated T. Rex's catalog since 1994, tells Billboard. "Even though he achieved some success on the coasts he didn’t necessarily become quite as well-known in the U.S. as he would have liked. So all these years later to be talking about this induction into the Hall of Fame, it's terrific news. We're proud on Marc's behalf, on behalf of his family. He would have felt very rewarded."

Mark Paytress -- whose Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar is the definitive biography of the late Bolan and works with Culture Consultants on T. Rex matters-- added that the induction announcement is "wonderful news. The Hall Of Fame will be an infinitely more glamorous, curious, joyful and inclusive place with Marc Bolan and T. Rex on board. Bolan's work... has a freshness and dynamism that belies its vintage. It's alive, and it keeps winning over new converts."

And Tony Visconti, who produced the group's key albums between 1970-73, says, “Marc Bolan and T.Rex have inspired hundreds of bands and record production over the years. Some very famous bands and producers have acknowledged this, U2 for instance. Marc Bolan is an iconic bastion of pop rock. T. Rex is still loved by millions of fans and their music will still continue to inspire future musicians."

Barden says T. Rex's nomination back in September -- the glam rock group's first time on the ballot -- jump-started a discussion between Culture Consultants and T. Rex's various labels and music publishers about plans moving forward, though details are being kept secret for now. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the group's switch from Tyrannosaurus Rex and a folkier sound to the glam rock that became its stock and trade. Between 1970-73 the group landed 10 Top 5 hits on the U.K. charts, including "Ride a White Swan," "Get It On (Bang a Gong)," "Jeepster" and "Telegram Sam." This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Glastonbury Festival in the U.K., where T. Rex was one of the headliners. 

"We said, 'Here's a moment, we're going to seize it and we're going to make sure Marc Bolan is at the heart of this,'" Barden says. "We're going to make sure as best we can that T. Rex are reappraised, if you like, and that Marc gets to wear his crown again."

Barden says it's also notable that one of T. Rex's final headline dates in the U.S. came on Nov. 11, 1974, when it played the Agora in Cleveland -- the city the group will be inducted in on May 2.

How the induction will be handled will be a point of discussion moving forward for the T. Rex camp. In addition to Bolan, who died in a 1977 car crash at the age of 29, inducted members Steve Currie and Mickey Finn have also passed away, in 1981 and 2013, respectively. Drummer Bill Legend is still alive and living in the U.S. while Bolan's romantic partner, Gloria Jones, who played keyboards from 1973-76, splits time between the U.S. and West Africa. Bolan's son with Jones, Rolan Bolan, resides in Los Angeles, while his brother Harry is in the U.K.

"It's difficult, isn't it, with certainly the band members not being with us," Barden says. "Rolan will definitely be at the center of any planning, but give us some time to see what we can come up with. We certainly have some good ideas." And Barden is hoping that T. Rex will be feted with some type of performance by appropriate artists during the ceremony. 

"We'd love to have Ringo (Starr) involved, because he and Marc were mates" and appeared together in the 1972 film Born to Boogie, Barden says. "Because Bolan music does appeal across the generations, across the continents and resonates around the world, it would be fitting, I think, to have people influenced by it try as best they can to get that vibe on the night. You'll have heard many, many musicians down the decades since his death talking about the influence of T. Rex, so his music is alive and it's shared around the world."