Ringo Starr…It Don’t Come Easy

Which ex-Beatle had the most Top-10 hits in a row?  Yes, good old one-song-per-Beatles-album Ringo Starr had seven of them.  For comparison, the most the other Beatles had were…Harrison two, Lennon four, and McCartney six in a row.

When The Beatles split, Ringo was at a loss about what he should do as a solo artist.  In 1970 he tried an album of standards, Sentimental Journey, and a country album, Beaucoups Of Blues.  Those proved that he needed to stick to Rock & Roll.  In 1971, George Harrison helped kick-start Ringo’s solo career by co-writing, producing, and playing on the single “It Don’t Come Easy”.  It was a big hit (#4) that is still a fan favorite.

George also helped with 1972’s “Back Off Boogaloo” which made it to #9.  Those singles were followed by the album that is the height of Ringo Starr’s solo career.

Ringo, was released in November of 1973.  Richard Starkey’s album was produced by another Richard…Richard Perry.  He was the hot producer of the time, and was behind top albums by Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Art Garfunkel, and many more.

Richard Perry and Ringo’s greatest accomplishment was getting all three of the other Beatles to make solid contributions.  George Harrison played guitar on four songs, and wrote or co-wrote three.  John Lennon wrote “I’m The Greatest” and provided piano and backing vocals on it.  Paul McCartney wrote “Six O’Clock”, played keyboards and sang backup on it , plus he added rock kazoo to “You’re Sixteen”.

There were three hit singles “Photograph” (#1), “You’re Sixteen” (#1), and “Oh My My” (#5).  Plus, there were three more potential singles…Randy Newman’s “Have You Seen My Baby (Hold On)”, Lennon’s “I’m The Greatest” and McCartney’s “Six O’Clock”.  Basically, the whole album is good.  The CD release is even better, with the bonus cuts “It Don’t Come Easy” and it’s flip-side, “Early 1970” (a song about how The Beatles were that year.).  Ringo made #1 on two of the three American album charts, and was a platinum seller.

Ringo Starr continued his chart success with an early rock & roll classic, “Only You” (#5) and Hoyt Axton’s “No No Song” (#3).  They were both from the 1974 album Goodnight Vienna.  It was a decent album, hit #8 and earned “Gold” certification.

Ringo’s next album, 1976’s Rotogravure, had some good songs…”A Dose Of Rock “N’ Roll”, a remake of “Hey Baby”, and McCartney’s “Pure Gold”, but it only made it to #28, and had weak sales.  The hot streak was over.

From that point, “It Don’t Come Easy” was the story of Ringo’s recording career.  Although he continued to make albums (His latest albums, Give More Love & What’s My Name, are good), Ringo never repeated the sales success he had in the 1970’s.  But, there was a brilliant solution that kept him musically active and successful.

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band started in 1989 with musicians like you see above.  The format features Ringo playing his hits from The Beatles and solo career, backed by some of the world’s best musicians.  Those artists also play their biggest hits during the concert.  The All-Starr Band line-up changes as each new period of touring starts.  There have been more than a dozen variations.

We were able to see one of these shows in 2010, when they made their way to Eugene, Oregon.  By then, Ringo was 70-years old, and frankly, we didn’t know what to expect.  Ringo was energetic, looked good, and sounded great!  Amazingly, his voice still sounds the same as when he was younger.  Ringo at times took center stage as the lead singer, sometimes he drummed and sang, and he backed-up all of the other performers with his drumming.  Here’s the line-up of musicians we saw:  Wally Palmer of The Romantics, Rick Derringer of The McCoys, Gary Wright of “Dream Weaver” fame, Richard Page of Mr. Mister, keyboardist Edgar Winter, and drummer Greg Bissonette.  It was a thoroughly entertaining night of “Greatest Hits” music!

It’s so good that the two remaining Beatles rekindled their friendship in the 1970’s, have performed together on each other’s albums (like Ringo’s recent one), and have teamed up on major post-Beatles projects.

Before he joined The Beatles, Ringo was already an established drummer, and The Beatles were lucky to get him.  His personality meshed perfectly with John, Paul, and George, and his innovative drumming added just the right touches to The Beatles’ songs.

With his solo career, Ringo Starr provided fans with some quality recordings and memorable songs.  They hold up well when placed on playlists with the solo work of the other members of The Fab Four.  Playlists allow us to assemble their solo songs into fantasy Beatles albums, and in this case, Ringo certainly gets more than one song per album.

(This is the 4th in a series of articles on The Beatles as solo artists.  Please check out the individual articles on John, Paul & George.)

Update:  (June/July, 2022)  Ringo went back on the road with his All-Starr Band.  Ringo turned 82 as July 7th, 2022…with Peace & Love.

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