20th Century Boy

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For the manga series, see 20th Century Boys.
"20th Century Boy"
Single by T. Rex
B-side "Free Angel"
Released March 1973
Format 7" single
Genre Glam rock, hard rock, garage rock
Length 3:39
Label Ariola, EMI
Writer(s) Marc Bolan
Producer(s) Tony Visconti
T. Rex singles chronology
"Solid Gold Easy Action"
"20th Century Boy"
"The Groover"

"20th Century Boy" is a song by T. Rex, written by Marc Bolan. It was released as a single in 1973 and reached No. 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 No. 13,[1] fourteen years after Bolan's death, when it was used in a Chris Hartwill-directed commercial for Levi's starring 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 Rocksmith, Guitar Hero 5 and Rock Band 3 and in the movies Get Him to the Greek, Lords of Dogtown, Velvet Goldmine, Somewhere, Drift and Grudge Match

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 Tango, Naked Raygun, The King, Kiyoharu, Adam Ant, Drain STH, Chalk Circle,[3] The Replacements, Girlschool, Pink Cream 69, The Three Johns, Placebo,[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!.

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 Goldmine, Placebo 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.

The song is played on Guitar Hero 5 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]

Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "T. Rex". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Glam Nation Live
  3. ^ a b "20th century boy in Canadian Top Cancon Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "You Don't Care About Us [#1] review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Chris True. "Downside Up review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Allmusic. "Great Jewish Music: Marc Bolan review on Allmusic". Stacia Proefrock. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "21st Cherry Boy". This is NOT Greatest Site. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "FAKE? Setlist at Daikanyama UNIT, Tokyo, Japan". setlist.fm. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "20th century boy in French Chart" (in French). Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "T. Rex"
  10. ^ "T. Rex – 20th Century Boy". Officialcharts.de. GfK Entertainment.
  11. ^ a b "20th century boy in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 19 July 2013.  Only results when searching "20 th century boy"
  12. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – T. Rex – 20th Century Boy". VG-lista.
  13. ^ "Charts.org.nz – T. Rex – 20th Century Boy". Top 40 Singles.
  14. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – T. Rex – 20th Century Boy". Singles Top 60.
  15. ^ "T. Rex – 20th Century Boy – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  16. ^ "20th century boy in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 19 July 2013.