In the early days of The Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were roommates, and while they didn’t spend too much time living together, they remained close. They often collaborated and visited with one another. Still, they didn’t always get along perfectly. Harrison threw a sizable wrench into their relationship when he had an affair with Starr’s wife. He also threatened legal action over Starr’s cover of his song. Though he’d given permission for Starr to cover it, Harrison reportedly wasn’t happy with the result.
George Harrison praised Ringo Starr before they met
In 1960, The Beatles went to Hamburg and played many shows at several different clubs in the city. Here, they honed their skills as performers. In Germany, Harrison also became acquainted with Starr’s talent as a drummer, though he hadn’t met him yet.
At the time, Starr was playing with the band Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. Harrison didn’t think much of the band, but he was impressed by Starr’s talent.
“The only person who is any good in the group is the drummer,” he wrote in a letter to a friend, per the book Ringo: With a Little Help by Michael Seth Starr. In 1962, Starr joined The Beatles, replacing original drummer Pete Best.
George Harrison threatened to take Ringo Starr to court over a cover of his song
Eight years later, The Beatles broke up, but Starr continued working with his former bandmates. In 1976, Starr released the album Ringo’s Rotogravure and recruited Harrison, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney to contribute.
“Well, Paul asked to write a song. I asked John and … eventually he came up with ‘You Got Me Cooking'” Starr said. “I also asked George to write one, but there was an old one of his that was never released by anybody that I always loved … I asked him if instead of writing one, could I have that old one? He said fine; it saved him a job. It’s called ‘I Still Love You,’ a big ballady thing.”
When Starr finished recording the song under the title “I’ll Still Love You,” Harrison was reportedly not happy with the result. He threatened legal action, and the former bandmates settled out of court. Starr didn’t hold onto hard feelings, though. In 1988, he joked about it on an appearance on the show Aspel & Company. When asked about any arguments between the two, Starr responded, “Well, the last time we were cross was when George was suing me.”
After explaining that Harrison wasn’t happy with the song, Starr said that he told him, “Sue me if you want, but I’ll always love you.”
The two musicians remained friends despite their ups and downs
Starr and Harrison didn’t let their disagreements get in the way of their friendship for long. Case in point, Starr invited Harrison to help with Ringo’s Rotogravure not long after learning that Harrison was having an affair with his wife.
They remained good friends for the rest of Harrison’s life. Years after his death, Starr still chokes up talking about Harrison.
“I’m such an old crybaby,” Starr told Rolling Stone in 2019. “He’s laying there very ill — not long. And I’ve got to go to Boston, ’cause my daughter’s having an operation. And so I said, ‘Well, you know, I’ve got to go, George,’ and he says, ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ You know, he’s dying in a bit: ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ How many people say great things like that to you, really give themselves?”