Ringo Starr's 10 greatest songs, ranked

16 January 2024, 14:51 | Updated: 16 January 2024, 15:15

Ringo Starr had a successful career as a solo musician after The Beatles ended.
Ringo Starr had a successful career as a solo musician after The Beatles ended. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

"Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles."

Unfairly for Ringo Starr, this jibe - that was in fact coined by comedian Jasper Carrott and not his bandmate John Lennon as legend would believe - has stuck with him throughout his career.

Whilst Ringo wasn't exactly a virtuoso when it came to the drum kit, he brought a unique energy and style to The Beatles' recordings.

Yes, he might not have made the greatest contributions to The Beatles oeuvre - he technically only wrote two songs for the Fab Four in 'Don't Pass Me By' and 'Octopus's Garden'.

But then again even George Harrison found it difficult to get a look in when the songwriting magnificence of Lennon and Paul McCartney took precedence.

When it came to pursuing a solo career after The Beatles called it a day in 1970, he grabbed the opportunity to change that narrative with a string of hits and albums behind the microphone, which arguably peaked with the release of his 1973 album, Ringo, his first solo album of original music.

His commercial impact post-Beatles was relatively short-lived, and he's predominantly stuck to the sticks in the years since, touring with the All-Starr Band and playing as a session musician for the likes of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.

That said, we've given the legendary drummer's work a reappraisal with Ringo Starr’s 10 greatest solo songs, ranked:

  1. 'Weight Of The World'

    Ringo Starr - Weight Of The World (Remastered Promo Video)

    After a slew of misfires, Ringo spent a lot of time out of the studio throughout the 80s until his return in 1992 with Time Takes Time, his first album since 1983.

    'Weight Of The World', a song written by a series of session musicians who admired him and had themselves worked with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt, saw Starr hit the sweet spot between country rock and the era's retro-indebted indie jangle.

    It didn't perform quite as well as he'd hoped, peaked at No.74 in the UK charts, but it proved Ringo still had swagger.

  2. 'Pure Gold'

    Ringo Starr - Pure Gold (1976) [1080p HD]

    As the 1970s went on, Ringo's returns were diminishing when it came to his solo music.

    So with the 1976 album, Ringo's Rotogravure, his old pal Paul McCartney lent him 'Pure Gold' - which is no doubt the standout song from the album -

    With Linda McCartney mucking in on backing vocals, the breezy blues number became arguably Ringo's final hurrah that decade.

    It was also the final project that all of The Beatles would individually work on before John Lennon's murder in 1980.

  3. 'You Don't Know Me At All'

    Ringo Starr - You Don't Know Me At All (Remastered Music Video)

    Ringo adopted a bold and bald new look for the promotional music video to accompany his 1976 single 'You Don't Know Me At All'.

    Shaving both his head and eyebrows off, Starr went fully into becoming unrecognisable as the song's message would proclaim.

    Written by Dave Jordan and featuring on Ringo's Rotogravure - which also featured guest spots from pals like Eric Clapton - underrated gem 'You Don't Know Me At All' sees Ringo at his most misunderstood and most pained, an unusual stance for the typically jovial drummer.

  4. 'No No Song'

    No-No Song

    With 1974 album Goodnight Vienna, Ringo continued his trope of banding together his best mates and pals in the studio to give him a helping hand.

    Elton John and Bernie Taupin donated the single 'Snookeroo', though it was the opposite song to its double A-Side release in 'No No Song' which became the album's biggest hit.

    Not quite getting the snooker references, the US tucked into the song's druggy connotations with 'No No Song' charting at No.3 on the US Billboard charts, becoming his 7th and final top ten single in America.

    Despite protesting that it was an anti-drug song, when asked about his favourite guest spot in a 2007 interview, Ringo replied: "Hoyt Axton was one of them on the Ringo album. We were doing 'No No Song' with the biggest spliff and a large bottle of Jack Daniel's."

  5. 'Easy For Me'

    Easy For Me

    Another of Ringo's mates, Harry Nilsson, helped him out with this beautiful, traditional piano ballad.

    Nilsson was commonplace amongst the former Beatles friendship circles, often seen alongside Lennon during his Los Angeles hell-raising days, which became known as his "lost weekend".

    And Ringo tapped up the man behind wounded ballad 'Without You' for his 1974 album Goodnight Vienna.

    Whilst Ringo didn't necessarily have the greatest voice, he could idiosyncratically sing heartbreak as tragically as anyone.

  6. 'You're Sixteen'

    Ringo Starr - You're Sixteen You're Beautiful (And You're Mine)

    A song about a girl the singer falls in love with, the lyrics to 'You're Sixteen' - despite supposedly being written from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old - haven't aged particularly well.

    A sign of the times perhaps, given it was penned by The Sherman Brothers who were responsible for Disney staples 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' and 'It's A Small World'."

    Ringo's cover of the rockabilly hit was a major success for the former Beatle, reaching number one on the US Billboard charts with Harry Nilsson and Paul McCartney improvising the kazoo sound on the song with their voices.

    Richard Perry who worked with esteemed stars like Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles and Carly Simon said producing Ringo's album was the "greatest thrill" of his career.

  7. 'Back Off Boogaloo'

    Ringo Starr - Back Off Boogaloo

    Co-written with George Harrison shortly after the Concert For Bangladesh, Starr's 1972 glam rock stomper indicated the influence the former Beatle took from T. Rex's Marc Bolan, who would later feature on one of his albums.

    The song is in fact about Paul McCartney - "Boogaloo" was Ringo's nickname for the then-Wings man.

    Starr implored Macca to stop feeding the press snide remarks about his former Beatle bandmates and get back to what he does best (make timeless music) as Ringo suggests in the lyrics with "give me something tasty".

    Peaking at number two in the UK charts, it was and still is Ringo's biggest hit on home shores.

  8. 'I'm The Greatest'

    I'm The Greatest

    The opener from Ringo's first full album of original material, Ringo, was actually written by John Lennon.

    Riffing on Muhammad Ali's timeless catchphrase, Lennon realised the tongue-in-cheek nature of the song would've been lost if he'd recorded it, so avoided any accusations of being arrogant by handing it over to Ringo.

    Though it was never released as a single, many fans of Ringo and The Beatles believed it to be one of his signature songs.

    And because 'I'm The Greatest' was the only song that three of The Beatles (with Starr, Lennon and Harrison appearing as well as Billy Preston) would record together between their 1970 demise and Lennon's murder a decade later.

  9. 'Photograph'

    Ringo Starr - Photograph (Remastered Music Video)

    'Photograph' sees Ringo lament a love lost who is consistently drawn to a photograph of her and the pain she caused after leaving him.

    Another co-write with George Harrison, the lyrical concept was also assisted by their then-wives Pattie Boyd, Maureen Starkey, and even Cilla Black who was holidaying on a yacht with the former Beatles.

    It was a huge hit for Ringo, topping the US charts in 1973 and hitting the top ten in numerous countries around the world.

    In 2014, Ringo shifted the song's sentiment when performing at the Grammy Awards, turning it into a contented and nostalgic look back at his time with The Beatles with a photo of the band projected behind him.

  10. 'It Don't Come Easy'

    Ringo Starr - It Don't Come Easy (Official Video) [HD]

    'It Don't Come Easy' was Ringo's first bonafide hit as a solo artist, and is undoubtedly his most snappy solo entry.

    The 1971 single was the first original song of Ringo's to be credited to him alone, although George Harrison's fingerprints are all over the track, incorporating the kind of fizzing brass instrumentation that featured on The Beatles 'Savoy Truffle'.

    After two commercial flops with covers albums Sentimental Journey and Beaucoup Blues, Ringo's joyous romp ensured the drummer was able to step out of the shadow of his former band.

    He wanted to "combat ... the original image of me as the downtrodden drummer", adding, "you don't know how hard it is to fight that."

    Luckily, with the great generosity of Harrison who gave Ringo full credit on the song, he managed to succeed as a solo star.

    'It Don't Come Easy' peaked at number four in the UK charts and on the US Billboard charts, paving the way for Ringo to run riot throughout the entire decade.