The premature loss of T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan remains one of rock music’s most eminent tragedies. A fearless creative until the very end, there’s a reason why everyone from David Bowie to Ringo Starr wanted to associate themselves in his company. Bolan’s affability allured him to The Beatles drummer, who even photographed one of the singer’s most iconic album covers.
Spookily, Ringo and his wife, Barbara Bach, nearly lost their lives in a nearby location to where Bolan fatally suffered a fatal almost-identical car crash just three years prior. Thankfully, Starr was fortunate and survived the horrifying ordeal, but, lamentably, the T. Rex singer wouldn’t have the same fate.
Their friendship began following the end of The Beatles during the early ’70s, a time when the duo found themselves associating in the same social circle. Despite Ringo being a few years older, they stoked up a strong kinship, and he was also named the godfather of Bolan’s son, Rolan.
Additionally, in the liner notes for 1972’s The Slider, Starr is credited with capturing the front and back cover. The drummer later glowingly reminisced upon their friendship with Mojo and said, “Marc was a dear friend who used to come into the office when I was running Apple Movies, a big office in town, and the hang-out for myself, Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon. We’d go on to various venues, but we’d always start down in the office and Marc was so much fun, he’d tell us how many he was gonna sell, and what chart position he’d have.”
Starr continued: “We were only 30, then, but we were looking at him like he was some crazy kid. We became friends, we had a holiday together. I took one of his album covers for him, that was just on the roof of Apple, actually.”
Starr was directing the T. Rex documentary, Born to Boogie, at John Lennon’s Tittenhurst Park estate when he claims to have shot the photographs that eventually made it onto the cover. Controversially, the album’s producer Tony Visconti later dismissed Starr’s claims that he’d photographed the artwork for The Slider and instead suggested that Bolan was economical with the truth to gain more column inches in the music press.
He later said: “Marc handed me his motorised Nikon and asked me to fire off two rolls of black and white film while we were on the set of Born to Boogie. 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”.
Despite Visconti’s remarks, Ringo is seemingly under the firm belief that it was him who was responsible for creating the artwork, even if Bolan might have refrained from telling him the whole truth. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. See the cover, below.