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Marc Bolan, Gloria Jones and “Tainted Love”


luisam

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Gloria Jones' first taste of fame came at the age of 14, when, while still at school, she formed with Frankie Kahrl and Billy Preston the successful gospel group the Cogic Singers, with whom she recorded the album “It's a Blessing”. Although she remained with the group for some four years, she soon found herself drawn into the Los Angeles pop scene.

In 1964, Jones, in her late teens signed with songwriter Ed Cobb's Greengrass Productions and she recorded her first hit record, the R&B tune "Heartbeat", written and produced by Cobb. This song was recorded later by Dusty Springfield, Spencer Davis and many other artists. I've in my discography the version by Dusty Springfield but been looking unsuccessfully for the one by The Spencer Davis Group. Certainly, there are numerous different songs titled "Hearbeat".

Gloria Jones had recorded other songs for Uptown Records, a subsidiary of Capitol/EMI. Included among these was another Cobb-written song, "Tainted Love". She even changed part of the melody to suit better the placement of her voice. This essentially means she was a co-writer of the song but at nineteen she was not aware of what "copyright" means, especially for a co-writer of a song, so ultimately she missed out on a bunch of royalties.

"Tainted Love" was the B-side of her 1965 single "My Bad Boy's Comin' Home", but by 1965 both records were a commercial flop, failing to chart in either the US or the UK. Supposedly the song was offered by Cobb to The Standells, whom he managed and produced, but they rejected it. The Standells themselves in their Facebook page denies a fact of offering from Cobb, as they weren’t signed to Cobb’s company Greengrass Productions until 1966, some two years after Jones recording.

 

 

The Standells are a band from Los Angeles, California and are best known for their 1966 hit "Dirty Water", now the anthem of several Boston sports teams and is played following every Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins win.

 

 

Jones also recorded an album entitled Come Go with Me which was released in 1966. In 1968, she joined the cast of Catch My Soul, a rock and soul version of the play Othello, which included cast members Jerry Lee Lewis, The Blossoms, and Dr. John. During the summer of 1968, she performed in a play called Revolution, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. That winter, she joined the Los Angeles cast of Hair, the musical.

Eventually, she was to meet Pam Sawyer, who asked her to write for Motown Records. Jones and Sawyer were amongst the second string of writers at Motown, but still wrote for such artists as Gladys Knight & the Pips, Commodores, The Four Tops and The Jackson 5. As Jones was also initially a singer for the label, protocol demanded a pseudonym, so for some of her earlier co-writes she used the name LaVerne Ware. Songs that Jones's worked on during this period include The Supremes' "Have I Lost You" (writer), Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross' "My Mistake" (writer), Junior Walker's "I Ain't Goin' Nowhere" (writer/producer) and the Four Tops' "Just Seven Numbers" (writer).

In 1970 she provided backing vocals on Ry Cooder's eponymous first album. The most remembered song that Jones penned was Gladys Knight and the Pips' "If I Were Your Woman", which was nominated for a Grammy in 1971. However, Jones left Motown at the end of 1973, subsequent to the release of her album Share My Love.

Gloria Jones first met Marc Bolan of T-Rex in 1969 while performing in Hair (Los Angeles cast). While touring in Europe, Bolan and Jones met for the second time at the Speakeasy in London. In 1972, she was recommended by Warner Brothers’ Bob Regere to sing backing vocals behind T-Rex at the Winterland in San Francisco.

Soon after joining T-Rex, Gloria and Bolan became romantically involved. They never married because Mark Bolan hadn't divorced his wife, June Child. Together, they had a son, Rolan Bolan.

She sang backing vocals and played clavinet with T-Rex from 1973 to 1977. Her rendition of "Dock of the Bay" appears as a bonus track on T-Rex's album Bolan's Zip Gun.

Jones released an album in 1976, called Vixen, featuring several songs written by Mark Bolan, and he also was the producer.

In 1977, Jones worked with the group Gonzalez, producing several of their singles, and also penning the disco hit, “Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet" for the group. She toured the UK with Gonzalez, first on the Bob Marley tour, and then with Osibisa.

She was the driver of the car, a Mini Cooper 1275 GT, that crashed and killed Bolan at 4:00 am on September 16, 1977 on the way home to Bolan's Richmond property. Bolan was a lifelong fan of cars, especially American ones and wrote many songs that featured them prominently in the lyrics; Cadillacs were among his favorites. Despite this fact, he never actually learned how to drive one because he was afraid of having a fatal accident. They had been out to a restaurant in Mayfair and had been drinking wine. Jones broke her jaw in the accident and was found draped over the car's bonnet with Bolan lying in the road. When she was well enough to leave the hospital, she soon was told that Bolan's fans had looted what was left of his possessions, though it is now believed that it was others, professionally connected to Bolan, who emptied the flat.

She was later due to appear in court in London on charges of being unfit to drive and driving a car in a dangerous condition. She never returned to face the charges and the Coroner's Court recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The accident also ended with Gloria Jones' singing career, because the impact damaged her vocal cords. This issue combined with complications over Marc’s estate, condemned her to years of financial hardship.  Marc was still legally married to June Child and hadn’t made provision for her to have access to his money. Bolan’s royalties were going into a trust fund, but because she wasn’t his legal wife, and her son wasn’t recognized in law as having any rights to his estate because he was illegitimate, she wasn’t allowed to benefit. It took years of legal battling for her to get recognized as one of the heirs of Mark Bolan.

Gloria Jones went from a millionaire lifestyle to virtual poverty. Having lost her possessions she moved back to Los Angeles with her son where they stayed with Jones' family. David Bowie, the godfather of Rolan, Bolan's son, came to the rescue. Without publicity, he paid for Rolan’s education and settled other expenses as he was growing up.

David Bowie was a great friend of Mark Bolan and his death left him devastated and fairly scared. He once went to some sort of palm reading or something along those lines and was told that he, Jimi Hendrix, and Marc Bolan were some sort of mystic phenomenon that was only destined to be here for a few years. At the time, it was laughable, as Hendrix was the only one who had passed. Luckily the prophecy turned out to be only 2/3 right as Bowie lived until 2016, almost 39 years after Marc Bolan's death.

Gloria Jones stayed in the music industry for several years after. In 1978, she released the album Windstorm, with the single "Bring on the Love", a success on the American R&B chart. Later, in 1981 she released an album produced by Ed Cobb, titled Reunited. She also collaborated again with Billy Preston for a 1984 album. She has since worked as a musical supervisor for films.

Since about 2010 Gloria Jones has made it her mission to keep Bolan’s memory alive and she’s partnered with The Light Of Love Foundation and Marc’s son Rolan Bolan to start the Marc Bolan School Of Music & Film in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

As for "Tainted Love", in 1973, a British club disc-jockey, Richard Searling, purchased a copy of the almost decade-old single while on a trip to the United States. The track's Motown-influenced sound fit in perfectly with the music favored by those involved in the UK's Northern Soul club scene of the early 1970s, and Searling popularized the song.

Owing to the new-found underground popularity of the song, Gloria Jones re-recorded "Tainted Love" in 1976 and released it as a single, but it also failed to chart. This version was released on her album Vixen.

Marc Almond of the duo Soft Cell, originally heard the song in a nightclub in Northern England. So strong was Jones' following there that she was proclaimed the "Northern Queen of Soul."

Soft Cell recorded a drastically different arrangement in 1981. The Soft Cell recording featured a slower tempo than Jones' and matching Mark Almond's lower voice. Synthesizers and rhythm machines replaced the original's guitars, bass, drums, and horns. Soft Cell's version was recorded in a day and a half with Almond's first vocal take being used on the record.

The band's record label chose to release "Tainted Love" on July, 1981 as Soft Cell's second single. Their first was "Memorabilia", which did not chart. The Phonogram Records representatives implied that this single would be Soft Cell's final release if the single did not sell. They also released a 12" extended dance medley, transitioning to a cover of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go" halfway through the song.

Buoyed by the then-dominant synthpop sound of the time "Tainted Love" rapidly reached number 1 on the UK singles chart and reached top positions worldwide. It was the best-selling single in the UK for 1981 and sold 1.27 million copies as of November 2012. In the US the song reached number 8 during the summer of 1982 and spent a then record-breaking 43 weeks on the Hot 10.

 

 

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Great background details to Gloria Jones' story luisam. I didn't know that she was driving the car when Marc Bolan died. It's ironic that he had a fear of driving and being killed in a crash. It's sad that, although "legally" she and her son didn't have any rights to Marc Bolan's estate and royalties, the legal Mrs Bolan didn't make any financial provision for them. People seem to value money more than a show of compassion. Well done to David Bowie for his generosity and kindness towards Bolan's son...Bowie always had class and that just underlines it. :)

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On 12/6/2017 at 4:13 PM, funkyy said:

, the legal Mrs Bolan didn't make any financial provision for them. People seem to value money more than a show of compassion

 

Well, let's have a look at this case from the real human behaviour point of view. Marc Bolan cheated June Child and finally left her, for Gloria Jones.  From what I've read, looks June loved Marc Bolan even after he left her and probably she felt deeply hurt. As in most similar cases women use to behave, probably she blamed more Gloria Jones than Marc and I don't believe she felt compassionate about her fate after the accident. Another detail I did mention that copyright revenues went to a fund, created by Marc Bolan. I understand that this fund was not in the UK because Bolan had tax problems so most probably his legal wife didn't have access to this money until all the legal issues about it were defined, years later and which ultimately recognized some rights for Gloria Jones and Rolan Bolan to share it. Guess that the life of Marc Bolan with soundtrack of T-Rex, Gloria Jones and David Bowie might be an excellent theme for a movie; much better than the awful "Marvel"-themed super-crap they are releasing currently.

By the way June Child died tragically on a vacation in Turkey on 31. august  1994; she was only 51 years old.

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I think it's best summed up by the old adage "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned":)

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