Friday, November 24, 2006

This Day In Music History: Ringo Starr and Photograph

On November 24, 1973 Ringo Starr topped the Billboard charts for 1 week with his song Photograph. When the Beatles broke up Ringo was the one that many thought would not have a successful solo career. In an interview John Lennon said “I’m most happy, I guess we all are, for Ringo’s success. It always went ‘round that Ringo was dumb, but he ain’t dumb. But he didn’t have that much of a writing ability and he wasn’t known for writing his own material. And there was a bit of a worry that although he can make movies…how was his recording career gonna be? And in general, it’s probably better than mine.”

It’s not surprising that they would be worried about Ringo’s recording career. He was always overshadowed by the writing efforts of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. He had the fewest lead vocals. When he did sing lead on songs like Act Naturally, Yellow Submarine and With A Little Help From My Friends they were well received by the fans. Ringo had a better recording career then the others in the early 1970’s. Of his first 8 singles to make the charts 7 of them made the top 10.

Ringo’s first album was an album of standards called Sentimental Journey produced by George Martin. The arrangers were considered a group of all stars that included Paul McCartney, Maurice Gibb and Richard Perry. His second album was a country album called Beaucoups of Blues. The title track was his first single. It made the Billboard top 100 but only got to #87. His second single turned things around when he had a hit with It Don’t Come Easy. It was produced by George Harrison and peaked at #4. Ringo’s solo recording career was now off and running.

In 1973 Richard Perry asked Ringo if he would be a presenter in Nashville at the Grammy Awards. When Ringo accepted the invitation Mr. Perry said he wasn’t calling just to invite him to Nashville for the Grammies. He also reminded Ringo that they always talked about going into the studio together to record. So without out telling their lawyers they went into an L.A. studio and recorded 5 songs for his next album. One of those was Photograph which Ringo wrote with his occasional writing partner and occasional producer from the Beatles George Harrison. George as well as John Lennon were both in Los Angles at the time. When they heard about the project they offered to play on the tracks. The title of the album was RINGO. When Paul McCartney contributed his help on other songs it was something of an unofficial Beatles reunion. The only thing that made sure it was not a reunion was that all four were never on the same song.

Photograph was the first single from the album. It is such a strong song that it was released 6 weeks before the album. Seven weeks later it was the #1 song in the country.

When you think of great Beatle ballads many songs come to mind. Yesterday would represent Paul. In My Life represents John. George is represented by the song Something. Ringo would have to be represented by Photograph. It may have come after the break up but it represents Ringo well. It is just as big a standard as the songs written by John, Paul and George have become.

No comments: