Marc Bolan – 21st Century Boy

Music Producer Nicky Graham tells the story of bringing Marc Bolan’s story to the West End stage.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 9 Mar 2010
  • min read
Marc Bolan’s short and glittering life continues to be an irresistible attraction. We spoke to two writers whose creative efforts are focused on bringing Bolan into the 21st century.

Music Producer Nicky Graham tells the story of bringing Marc Bolan’s story to the West End stage.

‘My journey towards Marc Bolan began when I was a Spider From Mars. We were in  competition with Marc, though he and Bowie had been very close. During the 90s, my route to work took me past the site of Bolan’s fatal car accident, which had become a kind of shrine. This sparked an idea to erect a more permanent memorial, and I worked to raise the money for a marble obelisk. I made a speech at the unveiling ceremony in September 1997, which also commemorated 20 years since Marc’s death, and realised my fascination with Bolan’s life had become an obsession.

By September 2007, the month of the 30 year-anniversary Shepherds Bush Empire concert which I arranged, my relationship with Brian Dunham, chief of Wizard Publishing for 20 years, had become a creative partnership. Brian’s dream of a musical became a reality in the form of 20th Century Boy – The Musical. We began work with TV screenwriter Colin Giffin in January 2008, and soon realised that there was far too much in Marc’s short life to fit into a two and a half hour.

We took a bold step and chose to stage a mini version of the whole show for potential investors. This costly experience was mad, yes, but we ended up with a DVD which has proved an invaluable reference for investors and co-producers who couldn’t attend.

None of this would have been possible without the rights to the music. We secured these well in advance, but not without trips to New York and countless conversations extolling the virtue of the script and our choice of songs. Then began the long slow process of pulling in money, choosing the right director, auditioning and of course the relentless work on the script. Key to all of the above is the actor to play the star himself.

Our schedule is to start rehearsing in July 2010 and to open in the West End in September, around the time of the 33rd anniversary of Marc’s untimely death. Hopefully the show will be a suitable epitaph for the legend that is Marc Bolan.

Go to: to read about Mark Paytress' efforts to realise a Marc Bolan movie.