When Ringo Starr nearly reunited The Beatles for his 1973 debut solo album
27 November 2023, 14:40
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The Beatles never truly got back together.
At least during John Lennon's lifetime, that is, having acrimoniously called it a day in 1970 after a decade together.
Once the band split, each of the members would fraternise with one another in some way and contribute to each other's albums in some way.
With the exception of John and Paul that is, due to their ongoing dispute which boiled over into thinly veiled digs at one another in songs like Paul's 'Too Many People' and John's scathing 'How Do You Sleep At Night?'.
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Collaboration post-Beatles was more of a frequent occurrence with Ringo however, as John, Paul, and George were happily pursuing their own creative ambitions.
Focusing on his acting career initially after The Beatles broke up, Ringo released two albums of covers, but by 1973 had changed his mind.
He wanted to make an album of original music, so picked up the phone to his nearest friends and enlisted them to help him.
By doing so, he very nearly reunited The Beatles, as it was the first time each individual member of the band would contribute to the same album.
Ringo invited close friends to record, including Billy Preston ('the fifth Beatle' after his work on 1970's Let It Be) and long-time friend Klaus Voormann (who drew the iconic cover for 1966's Revolver) who gathered in Los Angeles.
He managed to assemble an all-star cast of music greats to help him out too, namely T. Rex's Marc Bolan, Harry Nilsson, Motown legend Martha Reeves, four members of The Band, and Steve Cropper of Booker T and the MGs fame.
Heading to the recording studio Sunset Sound Recorders, Ringo only had one song in the bag which was 'Photograph', which he wrote whilst on a sailing holiday with his wife Maureen, George, his then-wife Pattie Boyd, and Cilla Black two years earlier.
Ringo asked George to record and produce the song in 1972, so he paid a visit to the studio a few days after the recording kicked off to see how the new version was panning out.
George told Ringo he was "knocked out by what you've done", so agreed to return to the sessions to contribute to what would become the album's first single.
John also contributed a song to Ringo's album, 'I'm The Greatest', but little did they all know the three of them would end up in a studio together for the first time since The Beatles split.
Ringo Starr - Photograph (Remastered Music Video)
The producer of the 1973 album Ringo, Richard Perry, said he was flabbergasted by the former bandmates being in the same recording session together.
He later recalled: "Just like that; no planning. The three ex-Beatles recorded one of John's songs. Everyone in the room was just gleaming… it's such a universal gleam with The Beatles."
In 1977, Ringo told radio host Bill Minkin: "We were like big girls again We were all looking at each other smiling. We hadn't played together in four years. We were just smiling while we were playing. It was nice."
Whilst Paul also contributed a song for Ringo's album (co-written by his wife Linda McCartney), he sadly wouldn't appear at the recording sessions despite the semi-reunion.
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Once his all-star band disbanded - a theme Ringo would continue up until this day in fairness - he flew to London to record 'Six O'Clock' with Paul.
McCartney also appeared on 'You're Sixteen', a cover of the 1961 Sherman Brothers-penned track which has slightly dodgy connotations these days.
Given that Ringo had yet to release a solo album by this point, interest from fans and support from his friends meant that it was a sure-fire winner, especially given that all of The Beatles lent their talents to the record.
The album spawned two of three Ringo's post-Beatles solo songs which would become chart-toppers - the Harrison co-written 'Photograph' and 'You're Sixteen'.
It fared well in the album charts too, reaching No.7 in the UK and only kept from the top spot on the US charts by Elton John's seminal Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
Though the songs may have all been top quality, public intrigue was no doubt peaking because of a potential reunion of The Beatles, that didn't quite happen. Very nearly though.