Top 10 Ringo Starr Solo Songs
Ringo was, and still is, one of rock and roll’s most beloved figures. Despite being a bit of a fish out of water in the pool that housed the incredible talents of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, the Beatles wouldn’t have been the Beatles without Ringo. Not only was he was one the most solid (and somewhat underrated) drummers of the era, but his charm and wit were always first-rate.
His solo recordings, while not without moments of cringing, show an interesting batch of songs. Some were huge hits, others sadly forgotten along the way. We tip our hat to Ringo, and give you our Top 10 Ringo Starr Solo Songs.
Not to be confused the the Cliff Richard hit from 1976, this song was written by Starr with songwriter Vini Poncia. ‘Devil Woman’ is a flat out rocker with atypical Ringo lyrics. “You’re like the devil with horns in your head, the only way I’ll get you is to get you in bed” is not the stuff usually associated with the man who sang ‘Octopus’ Garden.’ Driven along by some gritty guitars and punctuated by a horn section, the song has an almost Stones-like quality to it. It showed up as the b-side to his No. 1 cover of ‘You’re Sixteen,’ as well as landing a spot on the ‘Ringo’ album.
The flipside of Ringo’s classic ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ (see No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Ringo Starr Solo Songs) is yet another autobiographical tune. ‘Early 1970′ is all about his former band mates. Each member gets a verse, “lives on a farm, got plenty of charm,’ ‘laying in bed watching TV with his mama by his side, she’s Japanese” and “he’s a long haired cross legged guitar picker” are, well, you can figure out who’s who. Ringo was getting all misty-eyed and nostalgic less than a year after the Beatles split, singing, “when I go to town I wanna see all three” at song’s end. In retrospect, working with Ringo was the one thing the others had in common in that period.
Like other several other Ringo songs, (‘Early 1970,’ ‘Liverpool 8′ to name a couple) there is an autobiographical aspect to the lyrics. This time around, the tale and tune was written by the dynamic duo of the era, Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The song is full of joy, carried along by a horn section and an overall sense of fun. It was issued as a single in the U.K., but despite the marquee names, failed to make a dent. It made it’s U.S. appearance as the b-side of ‘The No No Song’ and over the years has grown in stature.
‘I Am The Greatest’
‘I Am The Greatest’ was written by John Lennon specifically for Ringo, and it became the lead off track to his self titled 1973 album. The song tells the tale of Ringo up to that point in his life, and as he points out, “I’m only 32, and all I wanna do, is boogaloo.” Bravado well earned, ‘Ringo’ the album became a huge hit, spawning three Top 10 hits, including two that reached No. 1!
‘The No No Song’
Written by songwriter Hoyt Axton, ‘The No No Song’ is very much of its time. Fresh from writing massive hits like ‘Joy To The World’ and ‘Never Been To Spain’ for Three Dog Night, Axton turned his pen to the subject of stimulants. In the sanitized-for-children, PC world of 2013, it might seem odd, or even irresponsible, that a major artist like Ringo would release a record that talks about marijuana, cocaine and alcohol, but in 1974, the public snorted it up, sending it to No. 3. Despite the fact that the hero of the song actually rejects all these substances, that didn’t stop the stoners listening from enjoying the ride.
Ringo was getting a little help from his friends as his solo recording career was in bloom. On the title track from his 1974 LP, which is No. 5 on our list of the Top 10 Ringo Starr Solo Songs, John Lennon not only wrote the song, but plays piano. The song is a jaunty little rocker that has ‘should have been a hit’ written all over it. A catchy hook and some interesting lyrics wrapped up with a spot-on performance didn’t quite do the trick, as the record barely snuck into the U.S. Top 40. Like many of these Ringo tracks, time has been kind and it sounds as good today as ever.
Perhaps bitten by the bug with the Beatles films, as far back as 1968’s ‘Candy,’ Ringo had been delving into acting. In 1971, he landed himself a staring role in the spaghetti western-styled film, ‘Blindman.’ The film was never a box office hit, but remained of interest due to Starr’s role. Perhaps the best by-product of the movie came in the form of the title song. Written by Ringo, and helped out in the studio by longtime Beatles associate Klaus Voormann and Pete Ham of Badfinger, the song has a droning, almost hypnotic quality to it as synth, fuzz guitar and percussion pulse along. It originally appeared as the flip to ‘Back Off Boogaloo,’ and has remained in relative obscurity more than 40 years on. We think it should be heard.
Ringo and George Harrison had something special going in their post-Beatles world together. The duo worked on each others records and the hits kept coming. ‘Photograph’ was, perhaps, the pinnacle of their work together. Co-written by Harrison and Starr and produced by Harrison, it wound up being Ringo’s first solo No. 1 in America. It has remained his signature song over the years.
‘Back Off Boogaloo’
Ringo lets it all rock out on this classic single. ‘Back Off Boogaloo’ was issued as the U.K. glam movement was in full swing, so it’s no surprise that it shares a certain stomp and crunch with the glitter brigade. Written by Starr, produced by George Harrison who also provides some killer guitar, the song’s inspiration came from none other than Starr’s friend, Marc Bolan. Ringo worked, and appeared with Bolan in his 1972 concert film ‘Born To Boogie.’ The song made Top 10 stateside and in the U.K.
‘It Don’t Come Easy’
Released in the Spring of 1971, Ringo’s third single was an incredible step forward for the man behind the most famous drum kit. ‘It Don’t Come Easy,’ written by Ringo and produced by George Harrison, was Starr’s first major hit, checking into the Top 5 in both the U.S. and England and No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Ringo Starr Solo Songs. There is an obvious Beatles-like quality to the song, but it firmly stands on its own merits all these years later as not only Ringo’s finest moment, but as one of the best solo recordings from any of the Fab Four.