Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tainted Love and Two Guys Named "Marc"

In 1981, a synth-duo in England had a record contract that was on the ropes. The band, Soft Cell, had an unsuccessful single ("Memorabilia"), and was given an ultimatum by Phonogram Records to record a hit single—or be dropped from the label.

As a touring act, Soft Cell was in search of a good cover song to close their set. They decided to work-up a synth version of a popular soul song, Tainted Love, that had swept the England charts over 15 years earlier. According to singer Marc Almond (hey, he spells "Marc" with a "c"), it was "either Tainted Love or a Franki Valli song."

Wait... so "Tainted Love" is a cover?

Yes, it is. It was made popular by singer Gloria Jones in 1964. Gloria's version of "Tainted Love" was a hugely successful "northern soul" song ("northern soul" was a dance/music, British mod scene in northern England at the end of the '60s). Gloria was so popular, her followers considered her the "Northern Queen of Soul."



In reality, Gloria Jones is an American, and had comparatively moderate success over here. But this is what I find interesting about Gloria Jones: in 1969, while in the musical, Hair (the LA cast), she met a young singer named, Marc Bolan (hey, *he* spells "Marc" with a "c" too!).

Marc Bolan liked her voice, and quickly added her to his band, T. Rex ("Bang a Gong (Get it On)"). As it happened, he liked more than her singing. They soon became romantically involved, lived together for many years, and had a son (to whom they did no favors by naming him "Rolan Bolan").

Unfortunately, this love story has a tragic ending. Most of you know that Marc Bolan was killed as a passenger in a car crash in 1977. He never learned to drive, fearing "premature death."

What's really sad about the accident was that the driver of the little purple sports car was... Gloria Jones: the original singer of "Tainted Love."

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