The Electric Warrior is going to Get It On at The Kings

George Maguire as Marc Bolan in 20th Century Boy.
George Maguire as Marc Bolan in 20th Century Boy.
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Cabbage at the Wedgewood Rooms, April 21, 2018. Picture by Paul Windsor.

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Forty-one years ago glam-rocker Marc Bolan was on the comeback trail when he played at The Locarno in Portsmouth, supporting punk upstarts, The Damned.

Tragically, that gig on March 20, 1977 turned out to be his last. That September, his girlfriend, singer Gloria Jones, lost control of the car she was driving them home in, the resulting crash killing Marc instantly.

Now a show based on the glam legend's life and music, featuring hits from Get It On to Ride a White Swan, Metal Guru and many more, is coming to Southsea.

George Maguire originated the role for its debut run at New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich back in 2011, and another short run in Coventry a year later.. But he has taken on the mantle of the Electric Warrior once more for a UK-wide tour, marking the 40th anniversary of the singer's death.

'It’s something I’m really, as a character, invested in and familiar with,' says George. 'It’s amazing to be able to come back and have a longer run at it, which is what I’d always wanted to do.

'The last two were about a month each, so doing the tour is great as it gives me the chance to really get into it.'

The musical takes in Marc's 29 years.

'It literally does his whole life. He was determined to be some kind of star, whether it be an actor, poet or rock’n’roll star, he always had these aspirations from a very young age - he was into Elvis and Eddie Cochran, so it starts when he was a youngster and zooms through his teens and the early days of Tyrannosaurus Rex when he was this folky duo with Steve Took, and then right up to that ominous night. It is the story of his life, so it’s quite a journey in one evening.'

Given his untimely death, doesn't that end on a bit of a downer for the audience?

'Not to give too much away - we don’t leave them down, they’ll be on their feet dancing at the end. It’s all about the music as well.

'There’s 26 songs in there, it’s a full night of music as well as a great moving story.'

So was Marc a fan before he took the role?

'I was familiar with the hits, but when you start playing the part and researching it, I became a fan, I became an absolute follower, now I know all the obscure B-sides, there’s so much music he made. I’m a proper fan now.'

This isn't the only time George has portrayed a real-life rock star on stage though. He also originated the role of Dave Davies for the musical Sunny Afternoon which is based on the early career of The Kinks. He won a prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for it.

Does he worry about what those who knew the people he's playing will think of his portrayals?

'Obviously you feel a responsibility because people knew and loved them, and I’m a music fan, so for me it’s always been an exciting opportunity to become Dave Davies or Marc Bolan, but you’ve always got to be careful not to just do an impression because that can be quite shallow.

'It’s more about finding the essence of the person and what makes them tick.'

'Because Marc isn’t with us any more, people are, I wouldn’t say more precious, but people have a very fixed memory - it’s frozen in time, whereas Dave is still around.

'It’s about capturing a period of time.

'They’re both kind of similar, they both had a passion for what they’re doing and for life - they’re not that far apart in that respect.'

And has he had any feedback about his take on Marc?

'I actually had a phonecall with Gloria Jones, she said she’d love to have seen it, but she lives abroad and had heard I was doing a great job, that was a great moment.

'I’ve also met a few people who worked for Marc at his record label he set up, they were really impressed and sort of moved. A lot of people were so shocked when he died – it was so sudden, so it’s cool for them to see him being remembered.'

A keen musician away from the stage, George is even working on his own music alongside the tour.

'Sometimes it’s hard to find the time, but I’m writing and recording at the moment. I’ll always be doing music.

'I hope by the end of this tour, I’ll have an EP ready to release. A lot of things can be done on the computer these days and then there’s lots of good studios around the country.

'Watch this space…'

20th Century Boy

The Kings Theatre, Southsea

April 23-25

kingsportsmouth.co.uk