What Ringo Starr Thought When John Lennon Died

When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, the whole world mourned. People missed John both because of his contributions to music and his dedication to world peace. In a recent article in Rolling Stone, former Beatle Ringo Starr discussed his reaction to John’s death. Here’s what he had to say. 

Ringo Starr | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Ringo Starr didn’t know what to do

Discussing John’s death, Ringo said “When John went, I was in the Bahamas. I was getting a phone call from my stepkids in L.A. saying, ‘Something’s happened to John.’ And then they called and said, ‘John’s dead.’ And I didn’t know what to do. And I still well up that some b*stard shot him. But I just said, ‘We’ve got to get a plane.’ We got a plane to New York, and you don’t know what you can do. We went to the apartment. ‘Anything we can do?’ And Yoko just said, ‘Well, you just play with [my son] Sean. Keep Sean busy.’ And that’s what we did. That’s what you think: ‘What do you do now?’”

Ringo Starr | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Ringo’s newest album, What’s My Name, features a cover of a song written by John called “Grow Old with Me.” Because John passed away, recording the song was especially emotional for Ringo. “The interesting thing is this guy Jack Douglas, the producer, brought this track of John’s to me [‘Grow Old With Me‘] just this year; I’d never heard it. So he’s still in my life. And so it’s on the new album. But why he gave me this CD is [because] at the beginning, John says, “Oh, that would be great for [Ringo].””

He said that listening to “Grow Old with Me” makes him sad, explaining “I well up every time I think [about it] — he’s talking about me. He says ‘Hey, Ringo, this’d be great for you.’ And I can’t help myself. I’m emotional now thinking of him 40 years ago talking about me on his tape and thinking of me. The four of us were great friends with a couple of side issues. And it was far out. So anyway, I didn’t know how to act. And then I got back to L.A., and I grieved, and then of course you always go through the grief.”

The close friendship between the Bealtes

The Beatles | Fox Photos/Getty Images

Over the years, much has been written about the tensions between the different Beatles. The press about the group’s relationship has occasionally caused music fans to come to the conclusion that, by the time the band broke up, the Beatles were no longer friends. Ringo’s comments, however, show that he still was very fond of John by the time he passed away. He was close enough to the Lennon family that it didn’t feel strange for him to take care of John and Yoko’s only son together, Sean.

It has been nearly 40 years since John’s untimely passing. Many music fans and people who believe in his message of peace still grieve for him and wonder what could have been if he lived a full life. Judging by his comments, Ringo grieves alongside John’s millions of fans.