How Ringo and John Lennon Moved On From The Beatles Together
If you read about the breakup of The Beatles, it’s impossible to ignore the various hostilities among the band members. The feud between John Lennon and Paul McCartney always attracted the most interest, but there were others.
In the Let It Be documentary, you see a particularly testy exchange between Paul and George Harrison in early ’69. George also had problems with John, who wasn’t giving George’s songs the respect they warranted. All this ended up with George quitting the band, and it took some doing to bring him back.
However, you never see anyone warring with Ringo Starr. Though Ringo left the group for a spell during the White Album sessions, he didn’t seem to have personal beefs with other band members. In fact, while trying to get George back into the group, Ringo’s house was the site for negotiations.
After The Beatles breakup, as the band members went their separate ways, you’d find Ringo’s name turning up in the credits of the others’ solo albums (and vice versa). Ringo and John in particular had a solid relationship, and their early albums showed they were moving on together in many ways.
Ringo’s contribution on John’s triumphant solo debut
What would The Beatles be like once they were unleashed as solo artists? The first offering, Paul’s McCartney (April ’70), didn’t tell us anything new. However, George’s All Things Must Pass (November ’70) revealed a genuine force hidden in Lennon and McCartney’s shadows.
John’s Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, released a few weeks after George’s record, also shook the music world and floored rock critics. To play drums on an album that was so important to John, he chose his old bandmate, Ringo. In interviews with Jann Wenner, he explained why.
“If I get a thing going, Ringo knows where to go, just like that, and he does well,” John said. “We’ve played together so long that it fits. That’s the only thing I sometimes miss is just being able to sort of blink or make a certain noise and I know they’ll all know where we are going on an ad lib thing.”
While Ringo released a few popular singles over the next few years (including “Back Off Boogaloo“), he didn’t record a proper solo album until early ’73. When he did, John was there to help.
John returned the favor on 1973’s ‘Ringo.’
By March ’73, Ringo was ready to get to work, and his friends were ready to lend a hand. George Harrison, Billy Preston, Marc Bolan of T. Rex, and Robbie Robertson of The Band were among those who contributed to the record.
On the first track of Side One, Ringo ran with a song written by his old bandmate John, “I’m the Greatest.” You’ll also find John in the credits on piano and backing vocals. It’s really the ideal Ringo vehicle, and the video doesn’t disappoint, either.
Originally written as a song for himself, John tailored the tune to fit Ringo’s personality. By all accounts, it was an unqualified success for his old drummer.
With their proper solo debuts charting in the top 10 (Ringo hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts), the two former Beatles could add these releases to their list of accomplishments.
In 1974, when Ringo went to record Goodnight Vienna, he called John and asked for another favor (i.e., a song). John obliged with the title track, “(It’s All Down to) Goodnight Vienna.” That what old pals are for.
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