Often confused with other musicians by the same name, Michael Norman Finn (apart from T. Rex) only toured as a sideman in the 1960s with Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. After Bolan and T.Rex’s demise, he worked as a session musician for The Blow Monkeys and The Soup Dragons.
When Tyrannosaurus Rex leader Marc Bolan had enough of the excessive lifestyle of his original T-Rex partner Steve Peregrin Took, he invited Mickey Finn as percussionist and sideman to finish Tyrannosaurus Rex’s 4th album in 1969 titled “A Beard of Stars” and later, into the 1970s incarnation of the glam rock group, T-Rex.
The album was released in March ’70 and a commercial success. It was rumored that Bolan had hired Finn for his good looks, and because he admired his motorcycle, rather than for his musical ability. Finn was unable to recreate the complex rhythmical patterns of his predecessor, Steve Peregrin Took, and was effectively hired as much for a visual foil for Bolan as for his percussion.
The BBC news commented on this, saying “Marc Bolan was supposed to have said of Finn: ‘He can’t sing… but he looks superb.‘ Nevertheless Finn stayed for another 5 years with the band during its heyday. To counteract this statement he argued on a radio show in Denmark that he and Marc Bolan were appearing on as guest DJs, that his big influence in percussion was the prolific Master Henry Gibson from Curtis Mayfield’s band.
In the early 1970s, Finn’s contribution as bongocero, backing vocalist, and, occasionally, bass guitarist, to Bolan’s music was essential, because Tyrannosaurus Rex and T. Rex started off as a duo and Bolan needed a replacement for Took. Something of a character both on and off stage, Finn was often to be seen wearing a hat (including a green bowler), a trademark that was adopted by a significant proportion of T. Rex fans.
After Bolan and T.Rex’s demise, Finn played sessions for The Blow Monkeys and The Soup Dragons. During the late 80s and early 90s, he made a few guest appearances with the London rock band, Checkpoint Charlie, fronted by Mick Lexington.
In 1991 he joined Croydon R’n’B band WD40, which had a fluid line-up based around his very old friend drummer Stewart Childs (the Interns) harp & vocalist Colin Goody and vocalist and guitarist Pete Robins. The band then added guitarists, percussion etc. as required but unfortunately Mickey was forced to retire after about 12 months due to failing health. A couple of live tracks survive from this line up, but are out of print. Mickey also was invited to play at the Marc Bolan 50th Anniversary gig organized by Mick Gray (ex T.Rex tour manager and roadie) to celebrate what would have been Marc’s 50th Birthday at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 30 September 1997 where Gray was manager.
He returned to the mainstream music scene in 1997, fronting a new, version of T. Rex, Mickey Finn’s T. Rex.
The band had a huge following in Britain but failed to replicate that success in in the United States and elsewhere. They are credited with introducing the phenomenon of “glam rock” to pop music and influencing artists such as David Bowie.
The band had also been dogged by a number of premature deaths. Bolan, the most famous member of the band, died when his purple Mini Cooper 1275GT was wrapped around a tree by his girlfriend Gloria Jones after a night of boozing back in 1977.
Steve Peregrin Took died from asphyxiation from a cocktail cherry after his throat was numbed from his use of morphine and magic mushrooms in 1980, Steve Currie also died in a car crash, in 1981; Mickey Finn succumbed to liver disease in 2003 and Peter ‘Dino’ Dines died of a heart attack in 2004, making T-Rex an even more complete band in Rock and Roll Paradise, than Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Mickey Finn was 55 years 7 months 8 days old when he died from alcohol-related liver problems, in Croydon, Surrey on 11 January 2003.