Saturday, March 05, 2022

Get it on

 I was very surprised this morning, using the search button top left, that not one single reference to Marc Bolan has appeared on these pages before today. I mean, I even attended when a plaque honouring him was unveiled in Tooting last year. It is on the wall of the Tesco Express on Garratt Lane. Something else very exciting must have happened for me not to have recorded that red letter day in deathless prose. Also, when I lived in Mortlake, and then Putney I would often drive or walk over the bridge on which he was killed in a car crash and notice poignant tributes left on, or at the foot of, a tree.

He was on my mind because Andy Tea mentioned Rick Wakeman at the pub yesterday, spurring me to pass on a heartwarming story I heard Wakeman tell Danny Baker on the radio once.

One day in 1971 the recently married Wakeman found himself £8 short on his rent. Desperate for work, he took the tube to Tottenham Court Road and walked to Denmark Street looking for a session in a Southern Music recording studios in Tin Pan Ally, and then onto the studios of Regal Zonophone on Oxford Street, where he could always earn a couple of quid playing a demo session, but nothing was happening.

He was in a Wimpy Bar on the corner of  Oxford Street nursing his cares with a coke when  producer Tony Visconti walked in. “Rick, session tonight in Trident Studios, midnight, for Marc Bolan’s new single. He wants you to play piano.”

Wakeman asked how much. “Nine quid.” 

Later that night he went to Soho’s Trident Studios with Marc Bolan and T. Rex plus King Crimson’s Ian MacDonald on saxophone.

“All I want you to do is this,” said Bolan and he ran his hand down the piano keys in a glissando.

 “But you could do that.” 

“Do you want your nine quid or not? I could give you it, or loan it to you, but you wouldn’t take it would you? So you can earn it."

That is the story behind the sub-second piano part six seconds in the track below. If you are not moved you don't have a heart.

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