An EXCLUSIVE Conversation with T. Rex Drummer Bill Legend

Every year there is a long list of bands snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The kings of Glam Rock can now be removed from that list.  On November 7, 2020, T. Rex will be finally be inducted into the Rock Hall.  Of the four members chosen for induction, Marc Bolan (guitar, vocals), Steve Currie (bass), Mickey Finn (percussion), and Bill Legend (drums) only Legend survives and recently took some time to give an exclusive to MisplacedStraws about his time in this iconic and influential band.

Please press the PLAY icon below to hear the Conversation with Bill Legend:

On meeting Tony Visconti and joining T. Rex – I’ve been playing (drums) since I was, like, 12. And I was in the middle of an apprenticeship in commercial art in London but I’ve always been playing in bands, they kinda went side by side, the music, and the art. There was a local band I played for when I just married and I was introduced to (the band) Legend and we did gigs all over the UK, colleges, clubs,  the London clubs. We were basically quite an original band as well. We had a good frontman. who wrote the material. We were managed by David Knights, who was, I think, the original bass player for Procol Harum. Anyway, through him we had a record deal, with Vertigo, I think it was.  We were put into a studio in London and Tony (Visconti) was none other than the producer. So it was through that introduction and then he asked me later if I was interested in laying down some tracks for Tyrannosaurus Rex. That was basically my introduction to Tony. 1:30
On if he felt like the band would be successful – No. They were successful that single (“Ride A White Swan”) and I never expected to be anything other than like, “Okay, I’ll put some drum tracks down”, and that’s what I did. I never saw anything ahead, I just did what I thought was right for the song and that was it. 3:54
“Hot Love”
On recording Electric Warrior We were touring the States at the time and we came to the West Coast and we laid some tracks down, including “Get It On” and maybe two or three other tracks. But I had no idea of what we’re actually doing in the sense that this is gonna be such-and-such an album. I always sat down and played what I thought was the right thing for the song. I had no idea what was going on. 4:43
“Bang A Gong (Get It On)”
On following up Electric Warrior with The SliderFor me, it was just grabbing onto the song and doing what I thought. I had no idea what Marc (Bolan) was anticipating or what he was trying to achieve. For me, I just love to play. I never wondered, “Hey, how we gonna follow this up?”  It never occurred to me that it would be the ongoing phenomenon it has become years later. What I want to say is just to get down and do what you do, just do your best for whatever you’re doing at the time. End of story for me. 5:30
“Metal Guru”
On working with Ringo Starr for the “Born to Boogie” film – I mean, that was an experience both with Ringo and with Elton (John) recording some stuff we did for the film. I really had no idea what Marc had in mind (for the film), what his intentions were what he was trying to achieve. I know that the gigs were manic, crazy. I got to know Ringo a bit and we played together, and I just took it all in my stride really. 6:30
“Children of the Revolution” (Born to Boogie version feat. Elton John & Ringo Starr)
On recording Tanx and the rhythm section with Steve Currie –  We never sat down as a rhythm section and figured out what we were going to do because sometimes we didn’t even know what we were going to do, we just went in and heard the song are the song. But as far as Steve and I, (we) just kind of locked in pretty big together. We were similar kind of laid back characters, quiet, and we had the feel for what Marc was doing at the time. Steve and I became really good friends, Mickey (Finn) was a lovely guy as well. It’s funny. Steven, I became close in a sense because we came from the same kind of working-class background and we just liked what we did. And  I mean, I listened to a lot of funky stuff and soul stuff all down through the year and I just applied everything I knew into stuff that Marc was actually recording at the time. 7:35
“Mad Donna”
On leaving the band after the Zinc Alloy & The Hidden Riders of Tomorrow record – I think it was probably personal family time, you know? I had three young children at home and I never got to see them. I wasn’t a money grabber. but I just feel, I kind of saw things weren’t the same and other introductions coming into the whole situation. I really didn’t know what was going on, but I just felt uncomfortable. I did the tracks on the Zinc Alloy album as well and was just kind of, it wasn’t the same kind of comradery.  Steve carried on because he was that kind of guy. He was there, he did the job, enjoyed playing. I already had my young family at home.  I had a good job. I was financially better off doing my illustration and artwork than I was on the road at that time. So basically, it was that kind of story, it just wasn’t the same, it just wasn’t the same anymore. Then I think I was in Australia at the time, my last gig was Brisbane, and I was thinking, they talk about we can go whatever way you like, and then get back together and stuff like that, and I just I didn’t want go any further really. I didn’t really think musically it was gonna be the same. But anyway, that’s just my personal feelings at the time, it was nothing to do with anyone else. I just kind of saw what I consider was the beginning of not so much the end but it wasn’t the same. 8:54
“Teenage Dream”
On whether he saw any of the band after he left – No, I never saw them anymore after that. I just went back to my family and my life, and I was still playing in bands and (with) people. I saw Mickey, I think this was after Marc’s death (car accident, 1977). I mean, it was a shock to me. I was really, really sad. It knocked me back a bit. I saw Steve playing with Chris Spedding locally one time, but I never got backstage to see him. That was the last time I saw Steve (car accident, 1981). Mickey, I think he was interested in starting up some kind of a band. I went along for some kind of practices with some other guys but I didn’t feel it was worth it.  That’s probably the last time I saw Mickey (alcohol-related problems, 2003), I took him home and that was it.  I just carried on with my life and I never stopped playing drums. 11:29
“20th Century Boy”
On his reaction to T. Rex being chosen for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I was kind of thrilled when we got nominated, I thought, “Wow!”. I know that people had been going on for a long time about, “Hey, you know T. Rex? Why aren’t they nominated?” It’s been a long time because of the influence and the success I’ve enjoyed, I don’t know the reason why. But I never dwelt on it. So when the nomination came in I thought, “Wow, that’s cool”. We weren’t in the top five (fan vote), because I think basically most of the votes come from over here (the USA). But when we were actually nominated I was really chuffed for that because I felt that at last there were people out there that actually recognize the import of the band and it’s not so much the success, but the musical import and influence that we had. It’s like you do the job for a long time and you do it to the best of your ability and you see all around you a good report and that but it’s never really recognized. And all of a sudden, one day, it’s almost like people, their eyes are open They recognize something, “Well, we didn’t realize it”.  I mean, I did over 200 recordings with Marc, including remixes and stuff like that, in three years, I think it’s good for him and people recognize his talent and musicianship, and his originality.  I think now it’s opening up to a lot of people, especially for young people, even my grandkids love bopping around to the stuff. 13:53
On what’s planned for the November 7 Induction – I don’t know. They in touch with me to make arrangements for me to be there (in May) but that’s canceled and I haven’t heard anything since. All I understand is that they are doing a TV special on the acts and I have no plans to go.  I haven’t been contacted. I really don’t know how it’s all going to act out, honestly. 16:22
On the importance of Tony Visconti to the band – I was good friends with Tony at the beginning, and it’s basically through him that I got introduced into the band. We had a really nice understanding between us,  he was a good friend, and I just like to give him some accolades for the whole success as well. We mentioned Mickey and Steve and Marc, the four people, the four mainstays. I’m thankful for them and all they did. Life goes on. 18:39
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