Before T. Rex assaulted the world with their glam rock party in the early '70s, there was the folk duo Tyrannosaurus Rex. Although both bands were fronted by flamboyant singer/guitarist/songwriter Marc Bolan, the earlier outfit was the polar opposite of the style of music that would later become synonymous with Bolan. Tyrannosaurus Rex originally formed in September of 1967 as a duo after Bolan split from his previous band, John's Children. Joining Bolan in the band was percussionist/bongo player Steve Peregrin Took, a gentleman that Bolan named after a character in The Lord of the Rings novel series. Bolan was so infatuated with Rings that most of the subject matter in Tyrannosaurus Rex songs came directly from the books as well.
The same month that the duo began, a fledgling producer by the name of Tony Visconti caught a show of their's at the UFO club in England, signing them right away to a subsidiary of EMI Records (in the U.S., Tyrannosaurus Rex's albums would issued via A&M) and producing their subsequent albums. The band enjoyed success straight away, with their debut single, "Debora," hitting the U.K. Top 40 as their debut full-length, My People Were Fair & Had Sky In Their Hair...But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on their Brows, hit number 15 on the U.K. charts in July of 1968. The next year saw several further releases, such as the albums Prophets Seers & Sages: The Angels of the Ages and Unicorn plus the singles "One Inch Rock" and "King of the Rumbling Spires," but Took would leave the band in October of 1969.
Undeterred since he was the main focal point of Tyrannosaurus Rex all along, Bolan recruited another percussionist, Mickey Finn, to take Took's place, issuing the new lineup's first album together in March of 1970, A Beard of Stars. By this time, Tyrannosaurus Rex's sound had begun to change; Bolan was now penning more succinct songs and had picked up the electric guitar (resulting in the group shortening their name to T. Rex later in the year), became a conventional rock quartet by adding a bassist and drummer, and helped touch off the glam rock movement (along with another former folk artist that had also recently rediscovered his desire to rock, David Bowie). Bolan and T. Rex went on to achieve massive success with a string of Top Ten singles and hit albums. But the hope of a reunion of the original Tyrannosaurus Rex lineup ever taking place became an impossibility on September 16, 1977, when Bolan died tragically in a car accident (Took would also pass away shortly thereafter, due to asphyxiation, on October 27, 1980).
Over the years, all of the Tyrannosaurus Rex albums have been repackaged in a variety of different configurations (the most popular being two-for-one deals in Europe), while 1995 saw the release of a Took collection titled The Missing Link to Tyrannosaurus Rex. A year later, A BBC History was issued -- a collection of live "in the studio" tracks that Bolan and Took had laid down during the late '60s. ~ Greg Prato