Bang A Gong (Get It On)

Album: Electric Warrior (1971)
Charted: 1 10
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  • Written by T. Rex lead singer Marc Bolan, this song is all about sex, but with imagery so comically vague it would be hard for even the most prudish listeners to take offense. Bolan's delivery is feral, and he does keep calling the girl "dirty and sweet," but you really have to stretch to find sexual connotations in a "hubcap diamond star halo" or a "cloak full of eagles." The biggest suggestion is in the title.
  • This song was written and recorded when T. Rex was touring America in 1971. The group had made inroads in their native UK with their 1970 self-titled album, but were little-known in the US. Marc Bolan wanted to change that by coming up with something that would strike to the heart in America.

    According to T. Rex drummer Bill Legend, he and Bolan worked out the rhythm one day in Bolan's hotel room, and when the tour got to Los Angeles, the group reconvened with members of the team that worked on their first album: producer Tony Visconti and backup singers Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, who were members of The Turtles and recorded as Flo & Eddie. At Kaylan's home in Laurel Canyon, they spent all night working up the song, and the next day, they recorded it at Wally Heider Studios in LA. When they got to the studio, they had the chorus, the rhythm, and the "you're dirty and sweet" line, but Bolan had to come up with the other lyrics on the spot, indicating he wasn't thinking too hard about them. Everyone agrees that cocaine was involved throughout the process.
  • This is a great example of "glam rock," which was characterized by outrageous, often effeminate costumes, nonsensical lyrics, driving beats and very theatrical stage shows.
  • In the UK, this hit #1 on July 24, 1971, giving T. Rex their second chart-topper there, following "Hot Love." The band's American record company, Reprise, dragged their feet on the song and didn't release it until January 1972. It went to #10 in March, but ended up being the group's only significant hit Stateside. In the UK, they had two more #1s - "Telegram Sam" and "Metal Guru" - and a total of 11 Top 10s.
  • This song is titled "Get It On" in the UK, but in America, there was a minor hit with that title by a group called Chase in 1971, so the title was changed to the less suggestive "Bang A Gong (Get It On)."
  • The last line, "Meanwhile, I'm still thinking..." is a nod to a 1959 Chuck Berry song called "Little Queenie," where he sings, "Meanwhile, I'm thinking" with the same inflection.
  • The band released this a year after they shortened their name. They had been Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • After falling from fame a few years after this came out, lead singer Marc Bolan developed a debilitating cocaine and alcohol habit, but that's not what killed him: He died on September 16, 1977 when a Mini driven by his girlfriend, the singer Gloria Jones, crashed into a tree.
  • In 1985, the "supergroup" The Power Station, which included Robert Palmer and members of Duran Duran, released this as a single under the title "Get It On." Their version went to #9 US and #22 UK.

    The Power Station performed the song on the "Whatever Works" episode of Miami Vice, which aired October 4, 1985, just two months after it peaked in America.
  • Marc Bolan took his name from Bob Dylan... BO from Bob and LAN from Dylan. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bob - Atlanta, GA
  • Blondie recorded a live version for their 1978 Parallel Lines album. The Damned and Frankie Goes to Hollywood are some of the other artists to cover the song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chrissy - Manchester, England

Comments: 57

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaNo kidding it's about sex? Who knew?!
  • Melinda from AustraliaAnd this song Get It On was pure brilliance. Equally as good as Ride A White Swan. Another example of his influences of paganism and the supernatural. My favourite thing about Marc Bolan is the old top hats he wore. His band T Rex didn’t really break in the U.S. I remember other musicians of the time stating this was because Marc was too weird for the U.S. and that he even wore women’s black dance shoes at the time. If you watch his old videos he’s wearing them. With bright coloured socks. He was the 1st glam rocker. His decision to wear glitter make up and satin was a game changer in the industry. He was ALWAYS ahead of fashion and music. He is under appreciated outside the UK. For his influence.
  • Melinda from AustraliaIt’s fairly well known that Marc Bolan Of T Rex was reasonably well read. Despite being dyslexic. His reading interests were the Supernatural, Tolkien, the Lord Of The Rings. Stuff like that. His girlfriend June used to read to him also. Words to his music reflect his interests in magic, Greek myths almost always. He was deeply into sex. And was reputedly bisexual. His girlfriends claimed he was definitely psychic. Either way he predicted his early death in an interview with Russell Harty on UK TV. Further, he refused to learn to drive. Did he know he was goin to die in a car accident at 29. Maybe. I was temporarily lost driving in my own mini one day in the 90’s. I didn’t know I was near Putney Common. An drove past the tree/shrine where he died. So many flowers.
  • Pedro from PortugalI'm pretty sure Blondie never released a version of this song. In Parallel Lines don't appear, and I have the CD :)
    And a woman singing "get it on, bang the gong" let me tell you.. its no good.
    Perhaps in dreams.
    In dreams is possible
  • David from Portland, OrI'm sure that in 1970 nobody called having sex "Bang the gong". It was only after the hit single by T-Rex "You're dirty sweet and you're my girl, get it on, bang the gong, get it on". I am sure that Bolan's lyrics "get it on" meant having sex, however "bang the gong" meant snorting coke. Remember T-Rex started in the drug-taking ethos of the Underground scene. So why did the hit single make it mean sex? Well imagine you're Marc Bolan being interviewed in public and asked what "bang the gong" meant. To prevent your hit single being pulled by censors what would you reply? Anyway, in his glam rock period, Bolan said everything meant sex.
  • David from Portland, Or"Bang the gong" first meant asking for more opium. In the 1850s Chinese opium dens came to the west. Next to each couch was a small gong, and the customer struck it to call for another dose to be brought. The musical sounds kept the scene hamonious and peaceful.
    In the 1930s Cab Calloway's sang "he took her down to Chinatown and he showed her how to kick the gong around".
    By late 20th century "bang" had come to mean any kind of smoked or inhaled drug. But "Bang the gong" usually means snorting a line of Cocaine.
  • Jerry from Cincinnati, OhI have always understood that "Bang a Gong" was a reference to doing a line of coke - this was what was going around in the early 70's
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 27th 1972, "Bang A Gong" by T. Rex peaked at #10 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on December 25th, 1971 at position #87 and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    In the group's native England it peaked at #1 (for 4 weeks) on July 24th, 1971 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    And on August 12th, 1971 it also reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on the Irish Singles chart...
    R.I.P Marc Bolan (1947 - 1977).
  • Mike from Columbus, OhThis song is great! I love the instruments in the song, they make it so much better! One of my favorites for sure.
  • Jaspah from Glasgow, United KingdomNo No No No No, Bolan only claimed that he, as a young boy, carried Cochrane's guitar to his car for him after a gig. I have never heard the story that he actually won Cochrane's guitar. Maybe even Boley thought that was a little far fetched. He was prone to extrapolate the truth and bend facts.
  • Glenn from Melbourne, AustraliaThe greatest example of Glam rock and one of the best songs of the 70's, it's just a rock n roll boogie and he piano glissando on the record was performed by Rick Wakeman. Grand piano was played by Blue Weaver and saxophones by Ian McDonald of King Crimson. Producer Visconti later recalled: "He played all the saxes, one baritone and two altos. I kept the baritone separate but bounced the altos to one track. I bounced the backup vocals to two tracks, making an interesting stereo image." Santana covered it on his Guitar Heaven album in 2010. It's Bolan's biggest hit and along Jeepster and 20th Century Boy it's his finest moment. Little Queenie by the Rolling Stones was riding high at the time and Bolan went one better with this great song.
  • Mark from Maesteg, United KingdomA young Marc Feld won Eddie Cohrane's guitar at Cochrane's last concert in the UK.
  • Al from Baltimore, MdThe line "You've got a hubcap diamond star halo" used to baffle me... until I was walking through an art museum one day.
    In the collection of Renaissance art I saw painting after painting with the Virgin Mary as the subject, and without fail she
    was depicted with an elaborate, well engineered, glimmering halo... in fact they looked like hubcaps, adorned with diamond
    stars. Too much of a coincidence to my mind. In the song Bolan is describing a young woman who has both the air of innocence
    and flat out sexuality. So the allusion to the greatest virgin of them all is altogether fitting in the context of this song. Don't
    know if Marc Boaln was an art lover, but I wouldn't be surprised.
  • Elizabeth from Durham, United KingdomThe rumour of the song title's change from "Get It On" to "Bang A Gong" because of its supposed offensive nature is often repeated, but is indeed false. As a prior comment says, Chase's "Get It On" was a big hit at the time, and Warner Reprise wanted to eliminate confusion with the two songs. Additionally, Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" was popular the year before, so there had been a glut of songs with similar titles.
  • Simplyvnyl from London, United Kingdom"T.REX THE SLIDER LP"
    I just read that have re-issued this album on 180g vinyl
  • Barry from Gagetown Nb Canada, -While Marc Bolan / T-Rex may not have been AS popular on this part of the pond , I was fortunate to purchase a "Greatest Hits" LP here in Canada (PickWick Records)
    It made me a BIG fan of songs like ... Mustang Ford , Salamanda Palaganda , Beltane Walk , Ride a White Swan , Get it On , and more !!!
  • Shirin from Grandview, MoThe lyrics "Meanwhile I was still thinkin" was also in the song "Martian Boogie" by Brownsville Station.
  • Iimocio from Westfield, MaBeverly D'Angelo (National Lampoons' "Vacation") was one of the dancers that were behind the band in the "bang a gong" video. (very young)
  • Miche from Houston, TxSeems obvious the song is about sex; or is it? I didn't write it. I do know, that for me, it correlates to the world stage today -- Hub Cap Diamond Star Halo = cheap $$$, possibly (cheap but, w/diamonds)? You're dirty sweet and you're my girl = Wall Street: love v. hate v.. A song means what it means to the writer but, it means what the listener takes from it, particularly for those just discovering this treasure of a tune. Bottom line: It rocks!
  • Joey from Brooklyn, NyGloria Jones also wrote the song I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet for the band Gonzalez of which she was a member.
  • Kenny from Clydebank, Scotlandmarc bolan was so unique. I was about 14 when Glam rock came on the scene. I remember going to discos with me mates dancing to T-Rex, Bowie, Roxy Music, Mud, Sweet, even the glitterball, Mr Gary. Happy days, and then came the snarl of punk of Johnny Rotten. Excellent as well, but very boysy and aggressive, chip on the shoulder, safety-pin in the earlobe, spitting gobs.
    Heard Bolan's Cosmic Dancer in an Irish record store and thought, my god, he may be a rock 'n' pixie, but this is profoundly transcendental spiritual music, a real metal guru, our Marc.
  • Don from Indianapolis, InAnd props to you too Celeste in Drexel Hill PA...!
  • Don from Indianapolis, InHey Rick in Halstead England...THANK YOU for clearing that up for me! I saw that particular video once, and I could have swore that was "Sir Elton" on the piano. The video looked fun and Bolan appeared to be in his best form. And THANKS to all for the info about Gloria Jones(Tainted Love...never knew that), and Flo & Eddie. Looks like the smartest music minds all come here...
  • Paul from Rothesay, New Brunswick , CanadaMickey Finn was the percussionist for the album "A Beard of stars". Steve Took handled percussion and a wide variety of other instruments for the first 3 Tyrannosaurus Rex albums.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThis is one of those songs that's a lot of fun to listen to, but if you dissect it, the parts range from ho-hum to outright awful. So I just listen to this one.
  • Wyatt from Anywhere, United StatesThe backup singers were terrible in this song. I have to say I still like the song a lot, partly because it was easy to dance to and I was always shy about getting up to dance the first time of the night and this song would get me over it. We used to throw parties and I'd throw this one on if I wanted to put the moves on a woman and get her to dance with me, great memories with this song LOL
  • Wyatt from Anywhere, United StatesCome on if you re going to say Tyranasaurus Rex was a duo with Marc and a percussionist , name the percussionist, He was Micky Finn
  • Davie from Paisley, ScotlandGloria did not write tainted love but did sing it.
    Jon try "20th century boy" if you think all the other t.rex songs sucked (probably). listen to get it on in the film "Jarhead" with Jake Gylenhall.
  • Guy from Wellington, New ZealandLove the opening to this tune and the driving rhythm. Like "Light my Fire" this song is pure sex. Amazing that America couldn't cope with it back then but then the States has always had this public persona of puritanism -- something I've never noticed especially in any Americans I've met.
  • Bobpape from Austin, TxThe "teeth of the hydra" part refers to Greek nmthology and the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts. After killing tthe Hydra monster, the teeth are collected for their magical poewers of some sort. I vaguely remember the story.Can someone further clarify this?
  • Darrell from Dallas, TxThe Turtles did back up on this song. Towards the end, if you listen real, real close, when the singer with the falsetto voice sings "Get it on" over and over, you can him say "Ooops" because he said "Get it on" once too often. Mark Bolan liked it and left it in.
    It's hard to hear, so I listen with headphones on and turn it up a little.
  • Paul from Rothesay, New Brunswick , CanadaThere is a posting stating that David Bowie plays sax on this song. That's false. The sax part was laid down by Ian McDonald, founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner.
  • Gerard from Honikiwi, New ZealandThe riff is stolen for the Oasis song "Cigarettes and Alcohol". In my opinion the verses, guitar is better in "Cigarettes and Alcohol" (Never let your lead singer play lead guitar as well). The music is certainly more 'together,' but nothing can beat that killer "Get It On" chorus-I love the harmony, and that little noise that sounds like an egg being cracked open-what is that?. The guitar solo starts great-then goes nowhere. Does anyone know what "teeth of the hydra upon you" and "hubcap-diamond-star halo" mean???
  • Steve from Torrance, CaBesides Power Station in 1985, this song was also covered by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry in 1983. It appears on the Joe Perry Project album, "Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker" on MCA Records.
  • Adam from Huron, OrGreat song. T.Rex is just a great band. Thought it was worth noting I used the lyrics of this song to write a critical analysis of the book, THE MANY-HEADED HYDRA and how the author's theme translates into contemporary American society. GREAT TRACK, and probably (in America) one of the most underrated bands of all time.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoI think it's fascinating how Tyrannosaurus Rex changed from a very hippy-esque folk duo (yes, duo, Bolan on acoustic plus a percussionist) to T-Rex, one of the trashiest (and I mean that in a good way!) rock bands ever! And they always kept that extra percussionist, even as a hard rock band! In England T-Rex and Bolan are better known for starting glam, which is usually attributed incorrectly to Bowie in the States.
  • Jim from Kapiti/wellington, New ZealandWhen Bolan died his girlfriend Gloria Jones was driving.
    She had years before she had a minor hit with "Tainted Love" which became a huge hit for Soft Cell many years later.
    Her version is very credible and worth a listen.
  • Michael from Tasmaniaa good song but not T-Rex's best
    i loved the songs like Spaceball Ricochet, Cosmic Dancer, Children Of The Revolution, and Teenage Dream
    all great songs, but Get It On was the start of Glam wich is one of my favourite styles of music
  • Joey from Nowhere Land, CaYeah, I think my dad is just crazy
  • Joey from Nowhere Land, CaI don't know why, but my dad thinks Eric Clapton plays guitar on this that true?
  • Robin from Birmingham, AlPrince reportedly wrote "Cream" as a direct homage (if that's the right word) to this song.
  • Robb from Williamstown, Nj 08094, NjDavid Bowie plays the sax parts on this track
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI f my last coment wasn't clear enough. i don't get why people didn't that the song was about sex. It's because of lines like "Well your dirty and sweet..." and "Get it on."
  • A.j. from Vancouver, CanadaBolan was killed in a car accident in 1977. His girlfriend, Gloria Jones, was driving and she was singer/songwriter in her own right -she wrote "Tainted Love" which was later covered by Soft Cell.
  • Craig from Madison, WiIf you dig Bang a Gong check out the T Rex album Electric Warrior. Almost every song is as good, if not better than Gong. And Marc Bolan new how to be sexy. Not a poseur sexiness like Jim Morrison, but a God-given every move/every note sexiness like Prince but without all the dancing.
  • Keith Major from Bristol, EnglandTry and see the tribute band "T'Rextasy" in the UK - it's the nearest thing live to Marc Bolan and his music.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI don't get why the imagery was toovague for people to figure out what the song was about. From the first time I heard it, I always thought that "Bang a gong (git it on)" was about. It's because og that line, "You're dirty and sweet. O yeah.""
    stef8819: Rock Hill, SC
  • Celeste from Drexel Hill, PaElton John is seen in the video playing keyboards.
  • Paul from Rothesay, Nb, Canada Bolan's girlfriend was behind the wheel the morning of the fatal car crash. Her name was
    Gloria Jones, a member of T. Rex and the mother
    of Marc's son Rolan. Gloria also wrote a hit
    single back in the 60's called "Tainted Love" which was re-done by Soft Cell in 1981.
  • Kelly from Long Beach, CaGet it on was on the sound track of early 70's
    surf movie Tubular Swells
  • Rik from Halstead, EnglandElton John played piano on this record (but only on Top of the Pops)
  • Anna from Aberdeen, ScotlandGoes to show how prudish folk were in the States then, and how contradictory: the band Marc Bolan first played lead guitar with, John's Children, released an album years before even Tyrannorsaurus Rex were about called 'Orgasm'. Ha!
  • Pamela from Dallas, TxRingo Starr filmed Marc Bolan & T.Rex in 1972 and made a performance documentary called "Born to Boogie".
  • Andrew from Bowmanville, CanadaOne of the best songs ever! Jon,don't judge the
    other songs if you haven't heard them.
  • Don from Spokane, WaHoward Kaylan and Mark Volman (who are rumored to be the highest paid studio musicians of their time) sang backup on this song. They also were known as "Flo and Eddie", and were the founding members of the "Turtles". They were also involved in some of Frank Zappa's most memorable shows from the early seventies.
  • Jon from Mountain Home, Idgood song, I love it, only trex song I like since the others probably sucked. Whenever I have a CD-RW made this song starts it off.
  • Brad Wind from Miami, FlActually, the name was changed in the US to avoid confusion with the hit record by Chase, "Get It On"
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