How did you first meet and become associated with Marc Bolan?
Jones: In 1969, Marc was on A&M Records, and I was in the Los Angeles cast of “Hair” and was invited to a party for T. Rex. That was the first time I actually met Marc.
The second time was when I was on tour with Joe Cocker, and we had performed a big concert at The Crystal Palace with The Beach Boys. We went to the club the Speakeasy, Marc’s white Rolls Royce was out in front, and we were walking into the club with Joe Cocker, and Marc (jokingly) said, ‘Hey, you better be careful, those girls might rob you.’ Joe Cocker said, ‘No man, these are my singers, and they’re going back to America tomorrow, so I’m taking them out.’ The third time was in Beverly Hills, and Marc was going to be performing at the Winter Wonderland in San Francisco.
I was actually just going to contract the girls for T. Rex, and then I said that I would go on tour, but this would be my last, because I was going to come off of the road after a long run, so that’s how it happened.
When we look back 30-something years ago, we look and see change; now interracial couples is nothing, but at that time, it was different. Then, musically, we were coming out of the psychedelics and more into rock, mixing, and this is where Marc’s music was going, into the mixing of rock and soul. This is where Boy George came out with his style. I remember this kid used to stand in front of Marc’s office in England. He was incredible. Like David Bowie, he and Marc were young together and friends; they always enjoyed talking to one another. I can remember when David said he was going into R&B music and that is when he did “Fame.” Marc was funny telling me, ‘Well, I’m just going to go back to just doing what I do.’ That’s what Marc was like. Now you have Oasis, and the sound that is coming out now; we have grown musically.
What was the real Marc Bolan like, and how did he challenge you artistically?
Jones: He was very humble, gracious and very appreciative for what he had accomplished, because he was a young boy in London that actually came up out of the ropes of the business. He was a child model, a songwriter, an actor — he really, really paid his dues. He was very much dedicated to his craft, and he really pushed me. My whole thing with the industry originally was for survival and to take care of my family; that was basically all I was concerned about. When Marc Bolan came into my life, he gave me a sense of freedom and was the first person to tell me to be free and to enjoy writing and singing. Marc brought in the art side to it and making it fun again for me, and T. Rex became fun.
Personally, I never overstepped my boundaries with Marc. The only thing in our home is we tried to live as normal as we could. We laughed a lot and listened to records, and we would go to the zoo every week. We were kind of like teenagers.
I have to tell you this — people didn’t like that he wanted to change his style, and that is what really hurt him, because he had thought that they would go with him through whatever he felt, but then he realized this is a business. He was a very genuine person. I hear stories of young guys that would have a flat on the expressway, and they looked up and Marc had his chauffeur just stop to help them to get them on their way. You hear a lot of great stories where he befriended lot of people.
What projects did you enjoy most with Marc?
Jones: I really enjoyed all of them. I think the earlier songs of “City Port,” “Stagecoach,” “Cry Baby,” those were like the beginning of our new journey and new sound, because Marc really believed in sound, and that’s why he recorded with such artists as Ray Parker Jr.; Sylvester Rivers; Ollie Brown; Ed Green, drummer for Barry White; and Scott Edwards, bass player for Stevie Wonder.
He worked on a level with these types of incredible musicians. He played on “City Limits” with Ike and Tina Turner. I’ll never forget. I called Ike and said we’re in town and he said, ‘We’re in the studio; you guys come down.’ Marc took his guitar; Tina and I were listening to the song while Marc and Ike were working out their guitar part. Ike said to Marc, “Play what you feel.” That’s when Marc put that “chink, chink” you hear on there. Ike and Tina also really admired him, and they appreciated a lot of the rock acts.
How Marc changed things is that he mixed, and he got in there and would try new things; he had guts. It’s not about being selfish with music; it is about keeping it free and open for change, and that is one thing that Marc had, he was about change … look at us now.