Irish Echo, September 26, 2007, Page 24

Irish Echo clipping

Hurley in the Park - JOE HURLEY, (above) frontman with New York's raucous Irish balladeers Rogues March, takes to the stage in Central Park next week for the hottest gig in town - a celebration of Marc Bolan on the thirtieth anniversary of the glam rock founder's death. For fans who figured Hurley was more Teemore than T. Rex and more 'Whiskey In The Jar' than 'Ride A White Swan', an explanation is in order. To get it, we went to the London-Irish crooner and asked him to fill in the dots.

21st Century Boy
Singer/author Joe Hurley celebrates the life and legacy of T. Rex founder Marc Bolan

"I'm in New York because Virgin had a cheap July Fourth flight going from London all those years ago. I had been writing short stories on the street, personalized tales, where the customer would be asked a variety of questions by myself – personality quirks, who they'd loved, where their sould went when they died, Kojak or Columbo?

I'd jot down a few notes, send the person away, and start typing and improvising a short story where he was the star character in an absurdist setting, and I'd get all the personal details he'd offered up incorporated into the story, always giving it a lovingly twisted and skewed edge, hoping to capture the person's essence in the piece. The customer would return in 15 minutes where I'd present him with a three-four page typed story. Ten of these a day, and I was ready for something else, so I came to NYC.

I'm a long-time New Yorker now, writing and recording my songs with Rogue's March, the Gents, and others, working in theatre and film, voiceovers, gigging; y'know, living off the fat of the creative land.

I'm a child of many cultures. American, Irish, and English. London, where I spent most of my childhood, remains a heavy influence and presence in my life.

Musically, T. Rex and Bowie were the soundtrack to my youth. Marc Bolan was the biggest thing in Britain since Beatlemania and to a young child, hearing his songs and his other worldly mystical quavering voice was a very magical escape from everything, whether it be the drudgery of a maths lesson, problems at home, or a seven-year-old Bromley Beauty leaving you for your best friend. When resultant playground scrap ended up in tears, you'd go home and play 'Life's A Gas' off 'Electric Warrior'.

Though we all identified with him, none of us looked like him. How could we in short trousers, scabby knees with no makeup or eye glitter? He was stunning to behold, a vision of corkscrew hair framing a renaissance face that was equal parts cheek, charisma, innocence and sex, whatever that was - though Bill Watkins had a Penthouse magazine which had pictures we all professed to be well-acquainted with, of course, of course.

But there was something about how he took hold of us that made us all feel special and connected to him. There was a lot of joy on those records. Singing 'Hot Love' with the lalalalalas refrain, with our arms linked walking home from school made everything in life so much better; the excitement of catching the bus to Bromley High Street to run into WH Smiths, looking at the chart listing on the wall, seeing T. Rex enter at #1 and excitedly counting out the 50p to buy the new single.

Some of the melodies are genius, and many carry a beautiful, hymn-like quality to them. It's almost as if they were composed centuries ago in the cathedral courtyards, where mothers would sing these strange and tender lullabies to their new born children. Early nursery rhymes witha a backbeat: "Children of the Revolution."

Through T. Rex, I discovered rock 'n'roll. Bolan was a brilliant showman, a unique entertainer and his legacy will last forever. T. Rex/Bowie producer Tony Visconti joined forces with me to do a 20th anniversary T. Rex show together ten years ago, a few sold-out nights at Fez. The list of performers wanting to take part was extraordinary: from Joey Ramone to Lloyd Cole to Tony Shanahan, everyone was touched by T. Rex. Listen to the songs now, and they're timeless and sound so much better and fresher than the manufactured drivel that radio feeds us today.

This year, for the 30th anniversary, we're doing a very special 90 minute concert at Central Park's beautiful outdoor amphitheatre, the Delacorte. On the eve of what would've been Bolan's 60th birthday, Saturday Sept 29, members of the New York Dolls, Blondie, Television, Scissor Sisters, Patti Smith Group, Lloyd Cole, Rockabilly legend Robert Gordon, Broadway star Michael Cerveris (Sweeney Todd) will all be performing T. Rex tunes. Rolan Bolan, Marc's son, says he's coming in as well.

Expect to see some very special unannounced guests, a few top hats, some glitter, sparkling platform boots...

I think it's important to recognize the joy someone brought you, and thank them for it. This then will be a celebration of that T. Rex joy."