Ringo Starr’s Favorite Song Is a Lesser-Known Ray Charles Track

Ringo Starr influenced drummers for generations to come as an integral part of The Beatles’ sound. He wasn’t a flashy player behind the kit, but it’s hard to deny Ringo’s impressive drumming skills. He has favorite Beatles records, songs, and personal performances, but Ringo once said his favorite song is a little-known Ray Charles track.

Ringo Starr (left) in 2008 and Ray Charles during a 1993 performance. Ringo Starr once said his favorite song was a live version of a lesser-known Ray Charles tune, and it clearly inspired his drumming.
(l-r) Ringo Starr; Ray Charles | Brian Rasic/Getty Images; Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Ringo has a favorite song and album among The Beatles’ works

Ringo continues to tour with different iterations of his All Starr Band as a way to promote his new solo work. Yet he will always be linked to his work with The Beatles. And when it comes to the Fab Four’s output, Ringo has his favorites.

He once called the B-side song “Rain” a weird Beatles track because of his singularly unique drum work. Yet he called the song his favorite Fab Four song for the same reason. 

Ringo’s drumming on “Polythene Pam,” “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” and “The End” are some of his finest moments. That might be why he called Abbey Road’s second side his favorite Beatles sequence.

Yet when it comes to Ringo’s favorite non-Beatles song, he once said an obscure Ray Charles song topped his list.

Ringo Starr once said his favorite song is Ray Charles’ ‘Tell the Truth

Ray Charles sent 75 songs onto the Billboard singles chart. That includes 11 top-10 hits and the No. 1 singles “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Georgia on My Mind,” and “Hit the Road Jack.” Charles’ “Tell the Truth” never charted, but Ringo once chose it as his favorite song.

“I love it, I love the live version. Just always blowing me away,” the drummer told the CBC (via Far Out) of “Tell the Truth” in 2005. Ringo also said picking a favorite song from the hundreds of tunes he loved over the years was next to impossible. “In all honesty, that’s very unfair because there are so many songs. People say, ‘Put your top 10.′ I can’t. I just cannot do that. It’s a really broad spectrum of music I love.”

At the time of the interview, Ringo’s favorite song was “Tell the Truth.” He might have changed his mind since, but it’s not hard to see why the drummer has a soft spot for the live version of the song.

The live version of ‘Tell the Truth’ is a song a drummer would love and clearly inspired Ringo’s playing

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Ringo and the Beatles found inspiration in Ray Charles’ music. The American icon showed his love for the Fab Four by covering several of their songs on the album Ray Charles Sings The Beatles. Paul McCartney once said he knew Ringo was the perfect drummer for the Beatles when he nailed a tricky Ray Charles song the first time he sat in with the band. The song wasn’t “Tell the Truth,” but it’s not hard to see why Ringo called that his favorite song.

Teagle Fleming’s work on the live cut has a complex beat that utilizes every part of the kit. The snare-tom-tom-floor tom mix carries the beat early, but then Fleming uses the cymbal bell to carry things forward roughly one minute into the song. Ringo said “Rain” was a standout Beatles song for him. When you compare that song to “Tell the Truth,” it’s not hard to hear the similarities between the two. 

Ringo once said his favorite song was the Ray Charles tune “Tell the Truth.” Whether or not he was telling the truth, the song clearly inspired his playing.

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