Rock Music Wiki

"20th Century Boy" is a song by T. Rex, written by Marc Bolan. It was released as a single in 1973 and reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart.[1] The song did not feature on an original studio album but was included as a bonus track on a reissue of 1973 album Tanx.

It later returned to the UK Top 20 in 1991, peaking at #13,[1] fourteen years after Bolan's death, when it was used in a Chris Hartwill-directed commercial for Levi'sstarring Brad Pitt. A slightly different segment of the song, with the addition of a harp, was used in a Jameson Irish Whiskey television advertisement. It plays a key role on the science fiction-mystery manga 20th Century Boys.

This song appears in the music video games RocksmithGuitar Hero 5 and Rock Band 3 and in the movies Get Him to the GreekLords of DogtownThe Truman ShowVelvet GoldmineSomewhere, and Drift .


 [hide*1 Track listing

Track listing[edit][]

  1. "20th Century Boy"
  2. "Free Angel"


Other versions[edit][]

"20th Century Boy"
Single by Def Leppard
from the album Yeah!
Released 2007
Format CD
Recorded 2006
Genre Hard rock
Label Bludgeon Riffola – Mercury
Writer(s) Marc Bolan
Producer(s) Def Leppard
Def Leppard singles chronology
"Rock On"


"20th Century Boy"


"Nine Lives"


Since its release it has been covered by artists such as Adam Lambert,[2] Bang TangoNaked Raygun, The King, KiyoharuAdam AntDrain STHChalk Circle,[3] The ReplacementsGirlschoolPink Cream 69The Three JohnsPlacebo,[4] and Siouxsie and the Banshees.[5] It has also been covered live by X Japan, playing the song at many of their earlier performances, one of which was used as the live B-side to their 1989 single "Kurenai". Count Zero, a Boston-based experimental rock band, has released a live performance of the song for download on their website The song has been covered by Bang Tango in their live album Ain't No Jive...Live!. Frankenstein 3000, with guests Shawn Mars, Steve Conte, and Leif Garrett, also released a cover on their 2005 America's Hit Remakers album.

Avant-garde metal guitarist Buckethead also covered it on a 1998 tribute, Great Jewish Music: Marc Bolan.[6] The English hard-rock band Def Leppard covered the song on their 2006 album, Yeah!, which features cover versions of 1970s rock hits. On 29 September 2007, Moby joined Richard Barone onstage for "20th Century Boy" at the T. Rex tribute in Central Park, NYC, with Tony Visconti on bass. British rockabilly band The Big Six recorded a version for the 1998 movie The Truman Show.

During their cameo in 1998 film Velvet GoldminePlacebo performed this song as fictitious band The Flaming Creatures. It also appeared as a Double A-Side on their single "You Don't Care About Us" and in their album Covers. The band also performed it live at the 1999 BRIT Awards with David Bowie.

This song appears on the official soundtrack for the biographical movie Lords of Dogtown.

The song is played on Guitar Hero in a scene in the movie Somewhere.

Powerman 5000 covered the song on their 2011 album Copies, Clones & Replicants.

Punk band Bad Religion wrote a song which borrows from the title: "21st Century (Digital Boy)" (on the albums Against The Grain and the re-recording on Stranger Than Fiction).

Japanese band Buck-Tick cites the chorus in their 2001 single "21st Cherry Boy".[7] Another Japanese band, Fake?, covered the song live in September, 2013.[8]

Stage musical[edit][]

On 8 September 2011 a new musical called 20th Century Boy opened at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. The actor-musician production is a world premiere produced by the New Wolsey Theatre, Bolanic Productions and Marc Goucher Ltd and is inspired by the life of Marc Bolan.

Chart performance[edit][]

T. Rex version[edit][]

Chart (1973) Peak


France (SNEP)[9] 59
Germany (Media Control AG)[10] 8
Irish Singles Chart[11] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[12] 9
UK (Official Charts Company)[1] 3
Chart (1991-1992) Peak


Irish Singles Chart[11] 8
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[13] 9
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[14] 39
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[15] 27
UK (Official Charts Company)[1] 13

Chalk Circle version[edit][]

Chart (1987) Peak


Canadian RPM Top Cancon Singles[3] 9
Canadian RPM Top Singles[16] 44