Saxon Guitarist Gets It On With T.Rex
In something of a shock move, Graham Oliver, the co-founding guitarist of Saxon, now a member of Oliver-Dawson Saxon, has joined T.Rex.
The current incarnation of T.Rex is guided by drummer Paul Fenton, who recorded and played live with Marc Bolan during the 1970s. Although Fenton didn’t bang the gong on Get It On – that was Bill ‘The Legend’ Legend, of course.
Fenton, Bolan’s long-time cohort Mickey Finn and latter-day T.Rex guitarist Jack Green formed Mickey Finn’s T.Rex in 1997, changing the band’s name to T.Rex (A Celebration Of Marc And Mickey) after Finn’s death in 2003.
Oliver first performed Get It On with Mickey Finn and Marc’s son Rolan Bolan at a 25th anniversary celebration, guesting on a sporadic basis with the band from then on.
“Having stormed the Bulldog Bash recently alongside UFO and Motörhead, my priorities are with Dobby [Steve Dawson, bassist] and the [Oliver-Dawson Saxon] boys,” explains Oliver in an email to Classic Rock, “but recently I have been working on different projects, including Los Dragons, with Mike Terrana [Masterplan/Yngwie Malmsteen], who is the best rock drummer ever, and Kee Marcello [ex-Europe] on guitar. I have also done a few shows with Uli Jon Roth.
“Rolan Bolan asked me to do a show with him as he wanted it to rock – which it did. So I stand in when I’m available,” adds Oliver. “We’ve done some open-air festivals to crowds of 10 or 15,000. I assume that Jimmy Page did his thing with the Black Crowes for fun, for me it’s the same thing with T.Rex. It has made me a better player as until now I only ever did my own stuff. When I am playing 20th Century Boy I am playing Voodoo Chile in my head; they are in the same key.”
In fact, Saxon were actually performing with The Heavy Metal Kids (fronted by singer/actor, the late Gary Holton) on 16th September 1977, on the day Marc died at the tender age of 29. That night’s Saxon show was dedicated to Bolan. Another connection is that Marc’s close friend Sir Elton John played on Saxon’s Rock The Nations album – y’see, Alice In Chains don’t have it all their own way.
As to the ethics of his association with a band that is based around a peripheral member, Oliver is unrepentant.
“It will always be controversial subject and regardless of what the splurge might say, I am only a hired gun,” he states. “People like Paul Fenton were paid fuck-all in those days, so there are issues. I have seen 20,000 people going mad to those songs, so it helps to keep the music alive. The problem, I suppose, is that if the band was called The Paul Fenton Band, it would be playing in some shit bar – without me, I may add – and the 20,000 fans would be missing out. For instance, I’m a true fan of Free; I would go to see any version of that band that I could.
“Just lately I have been unable to play with Rexes due to my commitments with O-DS, so true fans of any music should listen and enjoy while they can.”
* T.Rex (all-singing, all-dancing line-up pictured below, with Graham Oliver third from the left) can be seen at the 100 Club in London on September 18. Will they all fit on the stage?