Book Review: Metal Guru

September 4, 2017

Marc Bolan was captivating. His faux posh accent, careless lip-syncing and his impeccable taste in attire ensured that he was a character to be remembered. Marc Bolan was the man behind the band T Rex. ‘Get It On’, ’20th Century Boy’ and ‘I Love To Boogie’ are just a few of the timeless classics that encompass Bolan’s writing ability paired with that distinctive tremulous vocal. Underneath the music, was a character that was much louder.

As the 40th anniversary of his untimely death in ’77 approaches, there is no better time to explore the life of Marc Bolan. Metal Guru gathers interviews, documents, posters, photographs and his own personal anecdotes to tell the story of a man who seemed to fall in love with his own reflection.

Author Paul Roland has decided to revisit this story. Now on his fourth Bolan biography, Roland has seemingly not grown tired of talking about one of his major influences- in fact he’s become quite natural at it. He begins his narrative with Bolan launching a bottle of Dom Perignon at the TV, bitter about loosing his place in the spotlight.

“Isn’t it nice that someone can like you enough to put your picture on their bedroom wall?”, Bolan once asked.

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Fame is something that Bolan craved and becomes the main theme of the story. We are taken through his early years as a fashionista Mod where he first found fame. Then, through all the phases that followed- hippy, glam rocker and eventually a drunk. Roland examines how Bolan pulled himself together and eventually found the inspiration to write music that people loved again.

Metal Guru gives us access to a life that is as tragic as it is inspiring. Rather than a critique of the music like Roland’s previous 2012 book Cosmic Dancer, Metal Guru paints a glittery picture of the Bolan’s personal and professional life. Roland chronicles the songwriter and self-professed street poet’s childhood until his death with fascinating detail.

Metal Guru deserves a place on a T Rex fan’s shelf or for anyone who likes biographies in general. The story is so compelling that even someone who has never heard T Rex’s music can get lost in the pages. Marc Bolan sadly never wrote his own autobiography but this comes pretty close.

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