Few bands are as loved across the world as T Rex. Formed in 1967 their frontman, Marc Bolan was one of the most flamboyant and charismatic stars of the glam rock era.
They gave us hits that became rock anthems including ‘20th Century Boy’, ‘Get It On’, ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Telegram Sam’ and ‘Children of the Revolution’.
However, a decade after the band first formed, Marc died in a car crash in 1977 aged just 29 bringing an end to the band.
And Marc’s bandmates are also no longer with us: Steve Peregrin Took died from asphyxiation after his throat was numbed from his use of morphine and magic mushrooms in 1980, Steve Currie died in a car crash in 1981, Mickey Finn succumbed to illness in 2003, and Peter ‘Dino’ Dines died of a heart attack in 2004.
But tribute band T. Rextasy, who have been performing around the world for over 20 years to fans old and new, help keep the life and music of Marc Bolan alive.
“It’s not really a show – that makes it sound like a stage show or a musical! I make that distinction,” said front man Danielz when I caught up with him for chat. “It’s a proper rock and roll gig. There are no backing tracks. We perform as T-Rex used to, like a band. Many people now only have the odd video and Top of the Pops performance to watch him on. So I thought it would be good to go on stage and see how far I could take it and here we are.”
Danielz was just starting his teenage years when he first saw T. Rex and little did he know that it would ignite a love for the band that would stay with him years later.
“I was 13 when I first saw T. Rex live.
It was 1972 and I remember feeling ill with all the excitement,” he recalls. “And then when I saw him on stage in these amazing clothes – satin jackets, velvet trousers and glittery make up. Now back then, a man in makeup was not really the done thing. But didn’t matter to Marc, he just did his own thing.
“My favourite track by the band is ‘Metal Guru’. It’s not necessarily my favourite track to play live, but personally I love it. When I first heard it, it stopped me in my tracks; there was just something about it that grabbed me.”
Danielz first got involved with T.Rextasy back in 1992.
“Yeah, I’ve been emulating Bolan and performing the music of the band for 25 years now – which is longer than the original T Rex did,” he laughed. “There is a legacy that has to be kept alive. I do feel obliged to carry on doing this. But it isn’t a job to me, I genuinely love getting up onstage and performing each and every night.
“I have never consciously tried to look like Marc – perhaps I’ve just been lucky or it’s down to fate,” Danielz mused, when I pointed out the likeness between the two.
“I’m fortunate that I am exactly the same height as him, which is quite small especially for a man, standing at 5’ 7” and that I have developed similar shaped features as I’ve grown older.
“It’s funny that when I first met Marc’s producer, Tony Visconti, the first thing he said to me was, “My God, you’re even the same height as Marc!”
Danielz, who is joined by Neil Cross (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Rob Butterfield (bass and backing vocals) and John Skelton (drums), explains what fans can expect on an night out with T.Rextasy.
“In the first part of the gig, we play a few tracks for the die-hards fans – album tracks and B-sides,” he said. “Although, in saying that, T. Rex never really had any B-side style songs.
“You think of those songs as just fillers but every song that the band did were hits through and through.
“As part of the show we also do a little acoustic set and that’s always nice to slow things down a bit.
After the break we come back electric with the well-known hits that everybody knows and we like people to get up and have a bit of a boogie!” he added.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of T. Rex and also the 40th anniversary of Marc Bolan’s death which saw T.Rextasy play homage to their hero at a special show in London.
“We’ve been doing the Shepard’s Bush gig for a few years now but since 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Marc’s death, we knew we definitely had to play,” Danielz explained.
“We had Soft Cell singer Marc Almond, producer Tony Visconti conducting the Dirty Pretty Strings, original T. Rex saxophonist Howie Casey, Marc’s John’s Children co-band member Andy Ellison, Glen Matlock... I hope I haven’t missed anybody out!
“We were all so shocked that it sold out so quickly. I mean, we knew it would sell, but tickets were available from earlier this year in March and within weeks they were all gone. That’s just amazing for us.
“We were asked to put on another night,” he continued. “But we thought no, let’s just have the one show and make it great.”
Any band worth their salt will have a tribute or two – some good, some not so good – so what makes T.Rextasy stand out?
“You’re right, every band has a tribute to them,” Danielz agreed.
“There are other T Rex tributes, but we put on such a great show and sell out gigs fast that I know that we are seen as one – if not the one – best around.
“I think it’s longevity and the fact that we have so many big-name artists including those that worked with Marc endorsing us and working with us,” he continued. “We’ve had gigs all over the world from Japan, mainland Europe, here in the UK; so many places.
In 2012 Danielz was offered a publishing deal to write his autobiography. This was issued by Wymer Publishing in an A5 paperback that included over 250 pages that dealt mainly with his time as a fan of Marc Bolan, his career in original music and life on the road with T.Rextasy.
“I’m the only musician from a tribute band that has written his own book, he said. “That was a great experience to sit down and share my story. Definitely a career highlight.
And speaking of career highlights...
“There have been so many over the years it is hard to pick just one!” he laughed. “Playing a sell-out show at Wembley is another, travelling the world... but my stand out as to be meeting David Bowie. He is a proper superstar isn’t he? He was also a great friend of Marc’s so that was just a great opportunity and a thrilling experience and one that I am very lucky to have had.”
T.Rextasy will be heading out on their Marc Bolan 40th commemorative tour which arrives in the Kingdom next month.
“There is always a sure fire guarantee that it will be a great night whenever we play in Fife, and I’m really looking forward to it as always,” Danielz said. “Everyone who comes along likes to get up to dance and it’s safe to say that they love a boogie!”
· T.Rextasy play Dunfermline’s Alhambra on Thursday, October 12. For tickets visit www.trextasy.com.