Greatest Rock Performances: T.Rex “Bang A Gong(Get It On)”

When Marc Bolan and T.Rex decided to shed their much softer acoustic psychedelic hippie duo roots of Tyrannosaurus Rex towards a more full blown electric sound, “Bang A Gong(Get It On)” became the huge worldwide smash hit single off the ELECTRIC WARRIOR album. “Bang A Gong(Get It On) was also the only really big U.S. hit single that T.Rex ever had, reaching #10 on BILLBOARD, although they had many other top ten hits in the U.K. and worldwide.

And “Bang A Gong(Get It On)” was also very controversial with many long time fans of the acoustic oriented Tyrannosaurus Rex as well. Longtime friend of Marc Bolan, BBC disc jockey, John Peel, virtually ended his friendship with Bolan because he so disliked this song and the change of direction for Bolan’s now electric band.

Despite only reaching just #10 in the U.S., “Bang A Gong(Get It On)” continues to be one of the most enduring rock anthems of all time. The song had it’s own unique “T.Rex groove” guitar signature of Bolan along with hot lyrics that strangely compared a girl to a car in a sexual way. It was a hot song on many levels, with sexy vocal work from Bolan coupled with great rock and roll.

Musically, the song had a unique saxophone punch to it, as well as backing vocals from former Turtles and Mothers Of Invention members, Howard Kaylan and Marc Volman. And, although the backing vocals of Kaylan and Volman were important elements in the successful sound of “Bang A Gong(Get It On)”, as well as other great songs from the ELECTRIC WARRIOR album, penny pincher Marc Bolan was so outraged to find out that these guys expected payment for their work that he arranged with record producer Tony Visconti for the two of them to impersonate these backup vocalists for THE SLIDER album to save money.

Bolan had a few more strange quirks. He was interested in automobiles in a sexual sort of way on one hand, but never had a driver’s license himself, although he bought a Rolls Royce to own. And he added one musician, Mickey Finn largely because the musician owned a motorcycle and because thought the guy was good looking, rather than for any musical talents. Bolan was an unusual and eccentric musical genius.

Live in concert, Bolan always made “Bang A Gong(Get It On)” as his huge signature concert closer piece. Sometimes the song became a nearly 15 minute jam piece, where Bolan would abuse his guitar onstage with a bullwhip and finally throw the guitar into an amp rigged to set off a pyrotechnic explosion onstage. It seemed like every T.Rex concert was an event for Bolan to stage a wild performance reminiscent of Hendrix during “Bang A Gong(Get It On)”. Audience fans worldwide would sometimes get injured during T.Rex concerts as Bolan so excited the fans at his stardom peak. He was a huge star at one point in 70’s U.K. rock history.

“Bang A Gong(Get It On)” was known as “Get It On” in much of the world. However, another song by the American group headed by Bill Chase called Chase had a single out called “Get It On”, and this forced the U.S. version of the Bolan song to be retitled as “Bang A Gong(Get It On)” to avoid confusion.

Part of the magic of the song was the contagious and catchy chorus along with the added sax punch. “Bang A Gong(Get It On) has been covered by many musicians including Blondie, Robert Palmer’s Power Station, and even by Howard Stern & The Losers. “Bang A Gong(Get It On) was indeed a magic song. It made Bolan a super star and continues to get strong airplay worldwide even today, many years after it’s 1971 release date.

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