Released on this day 50 years ago, the timeless photograph of Marc Bolan on the cover of The Slider was credited to have been taken by Ringo Starr. But was it?
The iconic photograph of Marc Bolan with his “corkscrew hair” on the cover of T.Rex’s strutting classic The Slider (1972), was credited to Ringo Starr in the album’s liner notes. Ringo was directing the Bolan/T.Rex rockumentary Born to Boogie at the time but record producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie among many others) has stated that it was he, not Ringo, who took the cover image of a top-hatted Bolan on John Lennon’s estate in Ascot one misty day. Tony says:
“I certainly did! We’d had long breaks while shooting Born To Boogie while Ringo set up different scenes, so Marc gave me his Nikon F camera and we walked out into the woods and I shot three rolls of film. So back in London I’m at Marc’s flat and I see the contact sheets and say: “Oh, those are all the ones I took.” He had a funny look on his face, and goes: “Oh, right. Well, initial the sheets and if I ever use them, I’ll give you a credit.
“Of course, three months later he conveniently forgot and credited the shot to Ringo. I mean, this is my recollection of how things went down. If Ringo wants to challenge me on it, he’s welcome.”
“Marc was always an opportunist and would name-drop whenever he could. I don’t want to denigrate him as the great rock star that he was, but this is one one of the times that he tried to rewrite history. He used to be really bitchy about me getting credited too much. I think the top hat was an allusion he always made to being a magician. Marc told me that he lived in Paris for six months when he was a male model with a French wizard.”
Earlier in their career as a folk-rock duo Tyrannosaurus Rex, Visconti supposedly got fed up with writing the name out in full on studio charts and tapes and began to abbreviate it to T.Rex; when Bolan first noticed it, he was angry, but later claimed the idea was his!
Recorded in March and released in July of 1972, the near-perfect The Slider is 50 years old today and still sounds as fresh and crunchy as ever. With lip-smacking aplomb, the album was the zenith of the band’s brief career, containing some of the band’s best and most well known songs via Bolan’s Gibson Les Paul, such as Metal Guru and Telegram Sam both UK chart-toppers, and the heavy guitar rock of Buick Mackane.
The Slider hit number 4 on the UK charts and number 17 in the US, but marked the end of Marc Bolan’s reign as a pop superstar. The band would never achieve these artist and commercial heights again.
It should be noted that one of Bolan’s best ever songs, Thunderwing, was left off the album. It was the B-side to Metal Guru and T.Rex were renowned for their B-sides. This Slider-era classic is one of their finest moments ever put tape.