Flashback: 16 September 1977

Thirty years after Marc Bolan's death, his lover Gloria Jones recalls the glam star's fondness for his family - and London Zoo

I first met Marc in 1969, when Tyrannosaurus Rex (as they were then called) played Los Angeles - I was in the cast of Hair, but I had spent time in London, in Jack Good's Othello musical, Catch My Soul. After that I developed my career as a Motown songwriter and singer. In the summer of 1972, I bumped into Marc again at London's Speakeasy, a music business hang-out - I'd come over to sing back-up vocals for Joe Cocker. The next summer I was doing the same job for T. Rex on their big US tour with Three Dog Night.

There had always been chemistry between us, but on that tour, a friend told me: 'From the time you walked into the room, Marc lit up.' I recall him introducing me onstage as 'the Princess of Supersonic Soul'. It was in Florida that things moved beyond being friends. Marc asked me what I wanted to eat. I said seafood, and he ordered every dish on the menu. Relations progressed from there.

He was determined to crack America. The gig that would have broken him was Long Beach, California, but he came down with laryngitis. Thanks to the Billy Elliot soundtrack, Marc's bigger in the States now than in the Seventies.

He was overjoyed when our son Rolan was born in September 1975. Having a child helped him get back in shape. He gave up brandy. He said: 'If I'd known it was just that, I wouldn't have spent all that money for health farms.' He loved family life, and used to cycle home from his Marc TV show [a children's hour pop programme] for Rolan's bath time. Around the house he would read, watch TV, play records (a lot of blues), and was always perfecting poems and songs. He was a lot of fun - he might dance into the kitchen and do the James Brown splits.

He also discovered London Zoo. The keepers helped ensure fans didn't bother him. Marc liked Guy the Gorilla; he felt he had made a connection with Guy.

He was always very future-oriented. He wanted to make films, and was lined up for a feature film alongside David Niven at the time of his death, on 16 September 1977. Rock, soul, poetry, movies - there were absolutely no boundaries with Marc.

In other news ...

Heads start

On 16 September, Talking Heads release their debut album, Talking Heads: 77. Bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz had only married four months before. Single 'Psycho Killer' hits 92 in the US charts, but post-punk starts here.

Just say Quo

On 30 September, Status Quo release a cover of 'Rockin' All Over the World', originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty. Quo's take charts at number three and stays in the Top 40 for 16 weeks. And they still play it ...

Diva departs

On 16 September, opera singer Maria Callas dies of a heart attack. The archetypal diva, she was famed for cancellations - sometimes in mid-show - but was still regarded as peerless on stage. Her death is usually ascribed to overuse of Mandrax.

· Marc Bolan and T. Rex Greatest Hits is released by Universal Music TV

Gloria Jones

The GuardianTramp

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