Years after the deaths of both superstar front-man singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Bolan and bongo player/percussionist, Mickey Finn, A Celebration Of Marc & Mickey-T.Rex, continues to tour Europe with new show dates set in Germany and other countries. And while this band operates largely as a tribute band playing the music penned by Marc Bolan, the band still remains controversial with some fans of original unique Marc Bolan sound and band.
Tyrannosaurus Rex started in 1967 out as a hippie-era psychedelic acoustic duo with Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took. Both were master musicians, with Bolan writing the songs and playing guitar, and Took providing complex bongo rhythms to the early days of the band and three albums. But a sharp personality clash between Bolan and Took eventually did in their relationship. The early works of this duo seemed heavily influenced by Greek and Persian mythology.
Marc Bolan replaced Took with percussionist bong player Mickey Finn(born Michael Norman Finn), but this was a controversial turn for Bolan's music because Finn was viewed as not being as good as a musician as Took by any means. Some sources even say that Bolan chose Finn because of his good looks and the fact that he liked his motorcycle more so than his real ability. But, as Bolan began to turn Tyrannosaurus Rex from an acoustic duo into a full blown electric act, Mickey Finn's bongo playing began to become obsolete for the growing group and evolving new electric sound of Bolan's music. And in 1974, Mickey Finn left Bolan's group.
In 1997, twenty years after the tragic 1977 car accident death of Marc Bolan, Mickey Finn used his association with Bolan and T.Rex to form a sort of tribute band act, Mickey Finn's T.Rex. However, years of hard drinking took their toll on Mickey Finn as he was diagnosed with alcohol related liver problems and died of liver cancer at the age of 55 in 2003. But the tribute act that he founded continues to live on.
For real fans of superstar musician songwriter, Marc Bolan, the new version of the band sure isn't quite the same. Yet, for a tribute band, the band isn't too bad and often pretty good, especially live. The new band had featured Mickey Finn on percussion, former T.Rex session drummer Paul Fenton, former T.Rex guitarist Jack Green, and Bolan sound-alike vocalist Rob Benson. The group has recorded at least 17 of the old T.Rex songs of Bolan's old band and has played in front of crowds as large as 30,000 fans in places like Germany. And although the drummer, Paul Fenton, is now the sole member remaining with any connection to Bolan's original T.Rex act, the band continues to soldier on with a schedule of upcoming shows.
While the vocal style of lifelong T.Rex fan, Rob Benson, are very much like Bolan, it is the guitar playing and musical style of the other band members than seems a little different than Bolan's own unique guitar style. Bolan was sometimes compared to both Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles for his guitar style. Ringo Starr was a good friend of Marc Bolan's as well, and Bolan played guitar on the album, RINGO, as well. Ringo Starr helped to produce the BORN TO BOOGIE movie and songs and viewed Bolan as "the new Beatle". Even Paul McCartney was very impressed with Bolan, viewing Bolan's T.Rex band as the great new successor to The Beatles. The Who even gave a little tribute to T.Rex in the song, "You Better You Bet", with the lyrics, "But I drunk myself blind to sound of old T.Rex, mmmmmm. To the sound of old T.Rex. Oh, and WHO'S NEXT". Some even feel that the hit, "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" by The Hollies, has the same guitar groove as T.Rex's "Bang-A-Gong(Get It On)". And even, "You Can't Win Em' All" by Ten Years After seems to have a little bit of that unique Marc Bolan guitar groove signature sound as well. Yet, as great as that unique Marc Bolan guitar signature was, it seems to be sadly lacking from the new band's music style. Yet, overall Mickey Finn's T.Rex is a pretty fair tribute band. But Marc Bolan is not really replaceable. He was a unique and great entertainer, with both a unique vocal and guitar style, as well as unique songwriting ability.
Marc Bolan was a once in a lifetime superstar. So it is a tall order for any tribute band to pay homage to one of the best UK rock acts of all time. Yet, Mickey Finn's T.Rex is often pretty good as far as tribute bands go. It would also be great to see a few new songs written in the style of T.Rex by the act. Some other T.Rex tribute bands have attempted that. Yet, for what's there, Mickey Finn's T.Rex is an enjoyable celebration of the T.Rex sound of the 70's.
Cd albums of the new version of T.Rex are available at Cd Universe and Amazon.