Simon Napier-Bell On Tour With Mark Bolan (T-Rex)
Simon Napier-Bell: “In the 70s I happened to be in Tokyo when Marc Bolan was there on tour. I was no longer managing him but he suggested I come along with the band to Osaka to see his show there. We went on the midnight bullet train and the band members boarded the train with a cask of Suntory whiskey and a twelve-pack of sake flasks.
The sleeper carriages had bunks running in length-way rows shielded with canvas curtains. Three of the band got totally drunk but the drummer went to bed early, as did Marc and I. Once drunk, the three drinkers decided the pathetic early-to-bed drummer should be ‘got’. They set off to find his bunk intending to throw a load of cold tea and stale rice over him, but they got the wrong bunk. Mine!
Not yet asleep, I saw the stuff coming, leapt up and chased them down the corridor, intending to throw the rice over them instead. I caught one of them and slung him on to the nearest bunk. Unfortunately the nearest bunk contained an austere Japanese businessman, fast asleep. He leapt up ready to fight the world and at that moment the group’s tour manager came along.
Thinking it was the Japanese man causing the trouble the tour manager took a huge swing at him, and bit-by-bit people in the surrounding bunks woke up and joined in the fray. An executive from the local Japanese record company was travelling with the group, which meant officially they were his responsibility. When he woke up and saw the mayhem in front of him he went totally to pieces and tried to commit suicide by forcing open the carriage door with the train flying along at 150 miles an hour in the middle of the night. The tour manager and I held him back and meanwhile the open door triggered the emergency brake and the train shrieked to a halt.
The next day the story was reported in the newspaper. Later, we heard that the government under-minister in charge of rail safety had resigned his job – bullet train doors were not meant to be openable from the inside. But for the members of the group it was just another rock-tour moment, forgotten the next morning.