Marc Bolan Rock Shrine (London, England)

Marc Bolan Monument
Photo by Matt Brown

Marc Bolan, the glam rock guru/guitarist for T. Rex suffered the fate of a shot life. Despite the limited time he was able to share his love of music and spandex with the world, he left a lasting impact of countless music fans around the world. In honor of his life and musical legacy, the Marc Bolan Rock Shrine was erected in the Barnes neighborhood of London at the site of the fatal car crash that took his life at the age of 29.

Bolan death resulted from injuries sustained when his Mini, driven by his girlfriend Gloria Jones, struck a steel reinforced fence post, finally resting against a large sycamore tree. Immediately following the accident, visiting the crash site became something of a pilgrimage for fans of Bolan, T. Rex, and glam rock in general. Because people were already taking flowers and candles to the site in remembrance, there was really no other place that a fitting memorial could have been built. The sycamore tree has since his death become known as the Bolan Tree, and is an important part of the living monument.

Marc Bolan Rock Shrine
A complete view of the monument. Photo by Matt Brown

The memorial, consisting of a large black etched stone monument and a bronze bust was unveiled in 1997, the year Bolan would have turned 50. The bronze bust sits at the top of a small flight of stairs, just a few feet from the memorial stone.

In 2000, the T-Rex Action Group, a group formed with the specific intent of caring for the memorial, built steps up the muddy embankment from the Bolan Tree on Queen’s Ride and the Memorial facing Gipsy Lane. During this time they also made sure the tree was no longer in threat of falling over, an action that prevented it from being removed for health and safety.

In 2005 the memorial was further expanded with the addition of memorial plaques honoring members of T-Rex that had passed. There are currently memorial plaques for Steve Peregrin Took, Steve Currie, Mickey Finn, and Dino Dines.

In 2007, the site was recognized as 1 of the 113 “Sites of Rock ‘n’ Roll Importance” in England, by the English Tourist Board’s publication, “England Rocks“. Most of the 113 sites included are general sites where important events took place, but three musicians are listed individually, they are Marc Bolan, Jimi Hendris, and Freddie Mercury.

Marc Bolan Rock Shrine Facts

  • Marc Bolan was born 30 September 1947, and passed away just two weeks short of his 30th birthday on 16 September 1977.
  • The bust of Bolan was sculpted by Canadian artist Jean Robillard, and paid for by T-Rex Action Group founder Fee Warner.
  • The Marc Bolan Rock Shrine is on Queen’s Ride (part of the B306, close to Gipsy Lane).
  • The mini driven by Gloria Jones belonged to Bolan and was purple.
  • The monument was unveiled by Rolan Bolan, Marc Bolan’s only child.
  • In 1998 the T-Rex Action Group was granted an in perpetuity lease on the site which included full ownership responsibility for the Bolan Tree, bust, memorial stone, and steps.