The black and white image, which featured T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan in his Mad Hatter top hat, was taken at John Lennon’s Tittenhurst Park country home, an estate in Berkshire that was some 72 acres of land and a Georgian-style mansion. Starr and Boylan were friends, and the Beatles drummer was on hand directing Born to Boogie, a documentary and concert movie about T. Rex.
The photos that graced The Slider’s front and back covers were said to have been taken by Starr while he was in the midst of shooting the documentary. However, Tony Visconti, who produced the album — as well as notable releases by David Bowie, Thin Lizzy and more — disputed the claim.
“The cover credits Ringo Starr as the photographer of the front and back covers, when in fact Marc handed me his motorized Nikon and asked me to fire off two rolls of black and white film while we were on the set of Born To Boogie,” Visconti insisted. “Ringo, the director of the film, was busy all day lining up shots. But Marc apparently saw a photo ‘credit’ opportunity and gave Ringo the credit for the photos.”
Starr, for his part, has never disputed the credit, recalling Bolan as “a dear friend” and insisting the cover art was his.
Released July 21, 1972, The Slider received wide critical acclaim and remains a landmark glam rock album.
Bolan would die an untimely death in 1977 in a car crash two weeks before he turned 30. Starr remained a lifelong fan, and later inducted T. Rex into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “He was a great performer, just incredible. And that’s why I called the film we did together Born to Boogie, because he really was,” Starr said in his speech. “I told Marc, I’ll bring the camera and everything else, you just bring yourself.”
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