September 16, 1977

On this day in 1977, Marc Bolan of T. Rex was killed in an auto mobile accident at age 29.

Born Mark Feld, Bolan was well known for being an English singer-songwriter, musician, and poet, but he was best known as the lead singer of one of the first glam rock bands, T. Rex.

Vicky Aram, an eyewitness to the devastating car wreck told her story in 2012 of what she saw on the very sad evening in 1977. Aram was invited to a small gathering by Bolan, his girlfriend Gloria Jones (who was driving) and Jones’s brother Richard to discuss musical projects. Following them in a separate car, Ms Aram was at the scene of the crash just seconds after the impact.

The story was always told that Bolan was killed when his car hit the now famous sycamore tree, but Bolan was actually killed when his Mini hit a steel-reinforced fence post. History had repeated that Bolan had been crushed to death in the car, a new look into the case revealed he suffered a horrendous head injury from an eye bolt screw in the fence. The new investigation also revealed that the tree blamed for taking Bolan’s life actually prevented the car from sliding down an embankment and causing an even worse tragedy.

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Ms. Aram described how she was driving just seconds behind Bolan that night: “As I came over the bridge with Richard [Jones] beside me, I can still in my mind see, so clearly, a purple car which looked like a little beetle. It was upright and it was smoking and there was a tiny glimmer of light from the moon, the night was so still.”

The “little beetle” was the Mini driven by Gloria Jones. Ms. Aram said she didn’t immediately stop at the car but drove a few meters past it.

“I said ‘we’ve got to get them out, this car might blow up’. I took my mother’s rug from the back of my car and put it on the ground. Some of the fans are comforted by the fact he was laid on a nice lady’s rug. I don’t think Richard thought Marc was dead, but I knew he was. Gloria was groaning and almost conscious. But Richard cried and said ‘please don’t leave me’.” In an eerie parallel with Bolan’s death, Ms. Aram said she crashed into a tree on the way to give evidence at Bolan’s inquest a month later.

Fee Warner, founder of the T Rex Action Group, bought the land where the sycamore tree stands to stop it from being cut down. Warner and volunteers preserve the shrine dedicated to Bolan. Ms. Warner said: “A lot of people don’t realize there was a fence between the tree and the road because the fence was removed. When we came to build some steps, we found that when they had taken the fences away, they had taken away the ones that were undamaged, but the damaged ones had become buried on the site. That explains something which I have never been able to understand: why the damage to the tree is far higher than anything a Mini could have done.”

In attendance at Bolan’s funeral were David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Tony Visconti, and Steve Harley. 

Here is a very interesting video on Bolan’s death and some neat “coincidences” :

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