Coming from the same gospel school as Billy Preston, working alongside Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jerry Garcia and Phil Spector to name but a few and writing for such artists as Jackson 5 and the Four Tops, there’s more than enough for one persons lifetime to be remembered right there.
Girlfriend to Marc Bolan and mother to his son Rolan, Gloria Jones is perhaps unfairly remembered most for driving a certain purple mini on September 16th 1977, the day Marc Bolan died. Now, on the 30th anniversary of Marcs passing, we catch up with her, running a Sierra Leone based orphanage and continuing to hold her heartfelt ethics at the forefront of her every day.
Gloria, let me start by thanking you for this, its very kind.
AS: You were the first person to record ‘Tainted Love’ for your debut single in 1964. What kind of impact did that have on you life, was it your springboard?
GJ: I never liked the song in its original form and you can hear my input on the final recording, changing the melody from the more familiar track that people know today. I never liked the way it was presented. Naively, I hadn’t given any thought to copyright percentages for my effort as is the norm these days, but these things happen.
AS: Any career highlights you treasure, excluding your time with Mark?
GJ: I think the exposure and respect I gained from my fellow band members that came from my recording music around the world. It was fun and it still makes me happy, as it always did back then. Being a teenager in LA and faced with a choice of going to gospel school or music school, wow! I had my part in shaping the West Coast sound of Ike & Tina Turner, Ry Cooder and Brenda Holloway amongst others. It took off in the UK a long time before I realised, otherwise I would’ve been in the UK a lot sooner! When Soft Cell released ‘Tainted Love’ and made it a huge hit too, it was like a full circle, a rebirth. I mean, a good song is a good song, right?! That was a highlight too.
AS: What has been your most inspirational collaboration?
GJ: Jackson 5s producer Hal Davis who introduced me to the music business is definitely one. Pam Sawyer from Romford in Essex would be two, we wrote a lot of hits together for other people in our Motown days. And three would be Marc Bolan of course.
AS: You’re a lovely lady and I don’t imagine you have but, do you have any pet hates?
GJ: (Hopefully not misunderstanding ‘pet’ as I’m sure she’s not!) Dog mess! It’s all about respect and so to just leave it on the street or lawn for people to … urgh!
AS: Where do you go when it all gets too much?
GJ: I go to the spa and meditate. I have a spiritual release and restore my balance. I think it’s important to have a balance. My charity work is so rewarding too and that helps.
AS: Today’s music, what do you think of it?
GJ: It’s changed completely! I still recall in my day, the rhythm and blues of the 50s becoming the all consuming entity RnB in the 60s. With its generalisation making room for pretty much anything to jump on board, anything could be considered RnB. And Europe embracing Motown before the US still stays with me. Youth is the key, they mustn’t ever be held back. I still hear Marc’s influence running throughout music today. It’s the full circle again! But whether its hip hop, garage or grunge, it’s great! (Laughing) I wish we had the bling of today back then!
AS: Have you any dream collaborations?
GJ: Dr. Roberts and Marc Almond.
AS: How did you deal with the looting of your home, on top of Marc's death and your own grief?
GJ: When we were younger, our privacy was always being invaded. You have to find and keep your integrity; it’s the only way to cope with something like that. It’s hard to withhold your inner hostility. I sometimes see some of our stolen property on EBay and it hurts, it’s just so disrespectful. Those irreplaceable things that hold such sentimental value, which should rightfully be Rolan’s…it’s so hurtful. Marc’s 3000 records were stolen too, some of which I know I’ll never see again. Though I can forgive more now, as you have to do, it’s the hurt that stay long after the anger leaves.
AS: Paying homage alongside fans at the many tributes that have surely been held over the years, has it been awkward?
GJ: Thankfully, the truest and closest fans are able to reflect on the positive impact I had on Marc’s life, as he did on mine. I still recall the day we met. Joe Brian was holding a party and me, being an original member of the cast of ‘Hair’, got to go too. I met MB in 1968 at that very party and we never looked back, except for reminiscing on our many experiences together! We were soul mates and any fans, or family as we call them still to this day, know that and know our love was strong. Marc was always encouraging youngsters though and he never had an ounce of negativity. 12 white doves were released at Golders Green to represent each of Marc’s 12 records, so his spirit is still alive today, maybe the ‘Billy Elliott’ movie helped!
AS: What’s your son Rolan up to of late, is he still a model?
GJ: He’s quit modelling. He’s busy with his forthcoming record so watch out for that.
AS: Have you any future plans for the music game?
GJ: I’m seeing to the release of a recording in order to commemorate Marc’s life. Marc and I recorded a version of ‘Why must I be a teenager in love’ with just guitar to accompany us. We recorded it in our St. Johns Wood apartment and I remember we had just conceived Rolan at the time. Marc asked me to join him and I did. Although initially I started with a crazy high note, I could see that Marc meant
Business, his voice, guitar and emotion on the track were just perfect. We fooled around with a Chaka Khan riff of some sort before we got down to it though! That very recording is going to be released. We’re also planning to open a MB school of music and film for multi nationality, disadvantaged orphans in Sierra Leone. It’s to give them the opportunity to play and to write but mainly, to give them a sense of purpose, a chance… Where are you based Anthony?
AS: I’m in Nottingham.
GJ: Oh my my… we used to love coming to the (Goose) Fair and Marc played there regularly. I’m organising some BBC endorsed worldwide celebrations, for the love to be spread to other people like yourself, like the many great people like Marc. I’ll make sure you know when we come over… You could always sense the love that Marc held, just from being in the same room and his music, oh he loved his music. He enjoyed reading and watching TV but he would most enjoy listening to his fantastic records. A tribute to Harry, Marc’s brother will be included and Rolan will be playing live too.
AS: Thanks for your time Gloria and I guess I’ll see you soon!
GL: You will Anthony, you will.