T.Rextasy, the UK’s number one tribute band, are bringing their spectacular live show to the Hull City Hall on Thursday, April 13 and for all fans of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, this is a gig you don’t want to miss. The Gazette’s Les Sennett spoke to vocalist and lead guitar Danielz to hear more…..
BACK IN 1967 singer/songwriter Marc Bolan formed a band called Tyrannosaurus Rex. Three years later, he shortened the name to T. Rex and the rest, as they say, is history, writes Les Sennett.
The 1970 release of the song ‘Ride A White Swan’ got the band to number two in the UK Singles Charts and four of their next five singles; ‘Hot Love’, ‘Get It On’, ‘Telegram Sam’ and ‘Metal Guru’ made number one, making them one of the biggest bands on the planet.
Their popularity was compared to that of The Beatles back in the early 60s but tragedy struck in September 1977 when Bolan was killed in a car crash, he was just 29.
The music of T. Rex is timeless and the Marc Bolan legacy lives on in the shape of T. Rextasy, the world’s only official tribute band to Marc Bolan and T. Rex that were voted the UK’s number one tribute band on BBC1’s ‘Battle of the Fantasy Bands’. And guess what….they are coming to Hull next month and are not to be missed.
Vocalist and lead guitar of T.Rextasy is Danielz, and he is really looking forward to returning to the city for this gig.
Danielz was born in a Hong Kong military hospital back in 1957 as his father was in the army and this meant moving regularly all around the world as a youngster, something I could relate to as my own life was pretty much the same, as my father was also in the army.
We both have three siblings; my youngest sister was born in Libya, while Danielz has a sister who was born in Germany and two brothers; one who was born in England, the other in Cyprus.
Danielz is married to Caron and the couple have one rabbit in the family. Danielz’s father was born in Durham and although Danielz lives in Essex, his roots are firmly set in the north.
I asked him how he first became interested in the music of Marc Bolan and he said: “I was football mad as a youngster and listened to music on the radio and I went to the odd disco. ‘Get it On’ was released off the album Electric Warrior but my life changed forever when I first heard his follow-up song ‘Jeepster’.
“I was 13 and my family was stationed in Germany and I found that T.Rex were going to be touring the country and coming to a town not too far away…I had to go and see them live.
I will always remember the date, it was February 1, 1972, my dad’s birthday, and as I was a 14-year-old, he had to drive me to the gig in the car.
“I had never actually seen what Marc looked like, social media and computers were still a long way off, and when I first saw him on the stage, I was blown away. He was so unusual. His satin and velvet clothes were peculiar, he wore women’s tap shoes and his eye make-up was something totally new to me, I loved it…my parents hated it!
“I was awestruck and began to live and breathe Marc Bolan and T. Rex. When I was listening to one radio interview I realised that he really knew his rock and roll history. He was talking about Bob Dylan’s album; ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and I began to get deeper and deeper into their music.”
Danielz described himself as something of a 70s rock snob, with Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and Dylan amongst his many favourites. He also loved the early music of Queen, Rod Stewart and The Faces and Elton John.
He was given his first acoustic guitar along with the book ‘Play in a Day’ but was puzzled why he could not make the sound of T. Rex.
For his 14th birthday he got his first electric guitar, a Framus, and although he had to wait another month until Christmas to get an amp, he quickly mastered the guitar and with a fuzz box, began to play the tunes of his favourite band and now knows them all off by heart.
Talking about Marc, Danielz said: “Marc liked to hang around with established musicians like Elton John and David Bowie, not groups like The Rubettes and he and Bowie were the best of friends. T. Rex supported Bowie with John Peel at a concert and they remained good friends until Marc’s tragic death in 1977.”
Danielz added: “I actually met David Bowie by chance on T.Rextasy’s second tour of Japan. He was heading to Russia and we met waiting for the bullet train. We had a chat for five or six minutes and had a couple of pictures taken together, and became good friends.”
I asked Danielz what was so special about Bolan’s music. He said: “You can really hear his music. There is no guitar ‘shredding’ and you feel every tune, this is something noticeable with other guitar greats like Brian May and Jimi Hendrix.”
Having played with a few bands, almost breaking through with one band in the 80s, Danielz formed T.Rextasy in September 1992 and he laughed as he recalled the band’s first gig.
“It was at The Dove pub in the East End of London. A tiny venue, it was that small, the bass guitar head was literally hanging out of the window! There were about 80 people present and as I had known all the members of T. Rex, I invited drummer Bill Legend along and he joined us on stage, it was a very special moment.
“Unbeknown to me, an agent was at the gig and we moved on to play another at Finsbury Park and this time Gary Glitter and his manager came to see us and after the gig we were invited to join Gary on his Christmas Tour of 1993 and suddenly we were out of the pubs and playing big venues like the NEC in Birmingham and Wembley Arena, we were blown into the stratosphere!”
T.Rextasy went on tour with the likes of Slade, Sweet and Mud and have shared the stage with many greats of the music business including Boy George, Marc Almond, Steve Harley, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols and 10 years ago Clem Burke, drummer with my favourite band, Blondie, joined them on stage and another good friendship was made.
Danielz said: “We were invited onto the Blondie Tour Bus and met the rest of the band and lead singer Debbie Harry wanted to record one of Marc’s songs, ‘Life’s A Gas’, sadly they never did.
“We were getting bigger and better. Another break for us came when the Village People dropped out of a gig at the Wembley Arena, and we were more than happy to step in at the eleventh hour.”
Another great friend of Danielz is rock legend Suzi Quatro. Born in Detroit, Suzi lives around 10 miles away in Essex when not spending time with her husband and family in Germany, and she has also played on stage with T.Rextasy.
The band were getting rave reviews and on the back of an article published in the News of the World, following a Gary Glitter tour, the interest in the band continued to grow at a pace.
I asked Danielz about the band. He said: “The band has evolved and like all bands, you want to be the best and have the best musicians on stage with you. We have a fantastic line-up now and I just love performing.
“We don’t use backing tracks, that really winds me up about some other tribute acts and it sets us apart as what you hear is what we play. I want to be known as a great musician, we have no gimmicks; I am myself on stage (no wigs!) and this is important to me.
“We don’t practice; we have no time as we are constantly on the road. We are fully booked now for 2017 and will do about 100 gigs this year and we are already taking bookings for 2018.”
He added: “We can only do four gigs in a row. There is a lot of demands on my voice as the famous Bolan screams are all included and this has to be carefully looked after.”
When Danielz is not gigging his life is according to him ‘100 per cent T.Rextasy’.
He said: “When we are not gigging, I update the band’s Twitter account and my wife Caron looks after our Facebook page while also booking all of our hotels for us. I give press and radio interviews; it’s full on T.Rextasy every day.”
Five years ago Danielz was approached by Wymer Publishing who reckoned that he had a number of great stories to tell. They were interested in his life story and it resulted in his autobiography, T.Rextasy – The Spirit of Marc Bolan, which was published in April 2012, taking up most of his spare time.
Danielz and his wife Caron also own a lot of Marc Bolan’s belongings and their collection is so vast that it is all kept at a private security place.
He said: “We are very proud to own most of Marc’s multi-track recordings and many of his quarter-inch tapes so when people want to sample any of these songs, they need our permission.
“My favourite T.Rex song of all time is Metal Guru. When Marc performed the song on the 1972 Christmas edition of Top of the Pops, he wore a pair of blue dungarees; they are in my possession.”
I asked Danielz how long he thought he could go on as T.Rextasy. He answered: “Probably until I drop down dead on stage! The band is my life, it is a 100 per cent profession and career and I simply love it and am as passionate today as I always have been.”
This tour celebrates T.Rextasy’s 25th anniversary. When asked if he still gets nervous before going on stage, Danielz said: “I get very nervous before every gig and that is the way it should be. I would hate to think ‘oh, it’s just another gig’. I want to entertain the people who have come to watch us and I want the lyrics and guitar solos to be perfect, it’s why I love performing and I never get tired of it.”
When asked about the city of Hull Danielz spoke fondly about Mick Ronson. Born in Hull, Ronson played a huge part in the rise of David Bowie as one of the ‘Spiders from Mars’ and sadly passed away in 1993 at the age of 46. T.Rextasy are playing Hull City Hall on Thursday, April 13 at 7.30pm. Tickets are still available from the Box Office on 01482 300 300 or you can call 01482 300 306. Alternatively, visit hcandl.co.uk/hullcityhall to book online.
(Courtesy of Gazette Entertainment)