Well, as promised, I've just come back from a visit to Marc's memorial
. I would have blogged earlier, but I was distracted by David Hasselhoff's Power Ballads Top 50 on VH1. At first I just stopped as I was flicking through the channels, bemused that anybody could commission such a programme, and then I...er...started watching it.
For those of you who don't know, Marc Bolan, one of the classier exponents of glam rock, died on September 16th, 1977, when a mini in which he was a passenger hit a tree in Queens Road
, Barnes, South West London. People started leaving messages and strips of ribbon on the tree, but the site fell into disrepair. This saw the formation of the T Rex Action Group
who created steps up to the tree, saved it from being felled, and commissioned a bronze bust of Marc. Their site, though not the best designed in the world, has the most comprehensive coverage of Marc's life and death that you could wish for. It also gives an account of Marc's fascination with this Rene Magritte painting
depicting a tree, entitled September 16th (the date of his death). Here I am, writing a blog where I quite often refer to paintings and strange occurrences, and I didn't know about this until I was trying to find some links to this post. Spooky.
It's an unusual place for a shrine. The tree comes upon you unexpectedly just over the brow of a hill (actually a bridge over a railway line). Well, I expect that's what it did to Marc, too. You're in London, but it's beside Barnes Common, and there aren't many house around so it feels almost rural. From the road you just glimpse a slight glitter, a few things hanging from a tree, and it's easy to miss. To see it properly you have to go down a small side road in front of some houses, and this brings you to the steps leading up to the memorial. There is a black granite memorial erected by The Performing Rights Society, and a well executed bronze sculpture of Marc a bit further up the steps. There's a notice board that has been erected for cards and messages, and you are requested to use it, rather than pinning things to the tree itself, which can damage it.
I'm not a particular fan; I quite like his music but I don't own any, although obviously it's a shame that he died, but I was quite moved by the messages, many of which seemed to come from foreigners taking time out of a holiday in London to see the shrine. They had tied lots of glittery things aroung the place, too.
This year, the action group are planning to put four plaques up at the shrine to commemorate the four other band members who died. I found this FAQ section
on a website which gives details of the band member's various deaths. I was especially intrigued by the fact that Steve Peregrin Took died in 1980 after choking on a stoneless cocktail cherry. No disrespect, Steve.