b. Mark Feld, 30 September 1947, Hackney, London, England, d. 16 September 1977, London, England. A former fashion model in the halcyon ‘Mod’ era, Bolan began his singing career during the mid-60s folk boom. He completed several unsuccessful demo discs, including Dylan’s ‘Blowing In The Wind’, and he further failed a recording test at Abbey Road studios in 1965. Initially dubbed ‘Toby Tyler’, then Marc Riggs, Marc Bowland then finally Bolan. Either through his love of Dylan (Bo)b Dy(lan) or the fact that he shared a flat with the actor James Bolam, he adopted Bolan. Signed by the legendary Dick Rowe of Decca Records the artist’s debut single, ‘The Wizard’ was issued in November 1965. It was allegedly influenced by his friend Riggs O‘Hara, and it revealed an early penchant for pop mysticism, whereas its follow-up, ‘The Third Degree’, was indebted to R&B. Its b-side, ‘San Francisco Poet’, gave first airing to the distinctive, tremulous vocal warble for which Bolan became renowned and which flourished freely on his third single, ‘Hippy Gumbo’, released in November 1966. This slow, highly stylized performance, produced by new manager Simon Napier-Bell, made no commercial impression, but was latterly picked up by the pirate station Radio London, whose disc jockey John Peel became a pivotal figure in Bolan’s history. A further series of demos was also undertaken at this point, several of which surfaced on The Beginning Of Doves (1974) and, with overdubs, on You Scare Me To Death (1981), but plans for a fourth single were postponed following the failure of its predecessor.
From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.