Why didn’t Ringo Starr write more songs for The Beatles?

Ringo Starr opens up in 2011 about the death of John Lennon

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The Beatles’ songwriters were John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the Lennon-McCartney partnership. This is well known, yet George Harrison and Ringo Starr also wanted some of the action as the band’s popularity grew. Sadly, it did not come, especially in the case of Sir Ringo, who barely had any tunes on The Beatles’ records.

Why didn’t Ringo Starr write more songs for The Beatles?

One of the reasons, as Sir Paul McCartney has admitted to, is that the group did not take Sir Ringo’s songs very ‘seriously.’

Sir Paul and George Harrison grew up together, then joined up with John Lennon as teenagers, so there was a tight bond with them.

Sir Ringo joined the band later and has spoken of how he felt like an ‘outsider’ in the group.

He even left the band temporarily because of this feeling, later recalling in Anthology: “I left because I felt two things: I felt I wasn’t playing great, and I also felt that the other three were really happy and I was an outsider.

“I went to see John, who had been living in my apartment in Montagu Square with Yoko since he moved out of Kenwood.

“I said, ‘I’m leaving the group because I’m not playing well and I feel unloved and out of it, and you three are really close.’”

He did admit both Sir Paul and John felt similarly to him, but ultimately this was not the reason why Sir Ringo did not write as many songs for the band.

Sir Paul told Mark Lewisohn for The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: “Some of [Ringo’s songs] we just couldn’t get behind!”

“He used to do ‘Boys’ and ‘Matchbox’ with us, and with [Ringo’s earlier band] Rory Storm he used to do a set.

“But generally we never thought of those songs as being that good…

“I must admit, we didn’t really, until later, think of Ringo’s songs as seriously as our own.

“That’s not very kind but it’s the way it was.”

However, every now and again the band tossed Sir Ringo a bone, including the song Goodnight, which John wrote for the drummer to sing.

Sir Paul recalled about this song in 1994: “I think John felt it might not be good for his image for him to sing it, but it was fabulous to hear him do it, he sang it great

“We heard him sing it in order to teach it to Ringo and he sang it very tenderly.

“John rarely showed his tender side, but my key memories of John are when he was tender, that’s what has remained with me— those moments where he showed himself to be a very generous, loving person.

“I always cite that song as an example of the John beneath the surface that we only saw occasionally… I don’t think John’s version was ever recorded.”

Last year, speaking to Dave Grohl, Sir Ringo said John also wrote a different song for him in 1980, which made the drummer ‘well up’ when he thought of it.

He said: “The interesting thing is this guy Jack Douglas, the producer, brought this track of John’s to me [Grow Old With Me] just this year; I’d never heard it.

“So he’s still in my life. And so it’s on the new album.

“But why he gave me this CD is [because] at the beginning, John says, ‘Oh, that would be great for Richard Starkey.’

“I well up every time I think [about it] — he’s talking about me.

“He says, ‘Hey, Ringo, this’d be great for you’. And I can’t help myself.

“I’m emotional now thinking of him 40 years ago talking about me on his tape and thinking of me.”

While Sir Paul may have said he and John did not take Sir Ringo as seriously as they should, clearly John was very fond of the drummer, writing multiple songs for him and showing tenderness in his teaching.

In his last ever TV interview in 1975, he even celebrated Sir Ringo’s success, though acknowledged how his writing skills were not at the level of Lennon-McCartney.

John said: “I’m most happy for Ringo’s success because it always went round that Ringo was dumb but he ain’t dumb.

“He just didn’t have that much writing ability and he wasn’t known for writing his own material.

“There was a bit of a worry, although he can make movies and he does make movies and he’s good at it, but how was his recording career gonna be?

“And in general, it’s probably better than mine actually.”

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