October 18 – Picture When Ringo’s Star(r) Was On The Rise

Picture this : at one time it seemed like Ringo Starr might have had a decent shot at having as good a, if not better than, post-Beatles career than the other three. In both 1971 and ’72 he’d had a sizable hit single (“It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back off Boogaloo”) and on this day in 1973 he bolstered his resume with a single that Billboard magazine raved about, declaring it “has to be a #1 single this month. Right?” that single was “Photograph”, the first single off his third album, simply called Ringo. The single was released in Britain and Europe 49 years ago today, a week or two after it had come out in the U.S.

If Ringo was seen as not having the voice of Paul or the writing chops of any of the other three, he could still hold his own against many of his pop contemporaries in those areas and was a very good, under-rated drummer. But perhaps his greatest skill is in being a nice guy everyone seems to like. That was reflected in the fact that each of the other three Beatles helped out on this album, albeit not all together. “Photograph” was written by George and Ringo together, and in fact they’d recorded a demo of it while George was recording an album two years earlier. Ringo decided to revisit it and record a new version, with none other than Harrison coming back to play the 12-string guitar on it and sing backing vocals. Among the other talents who played on the song were saxophonist Bobby Keys and Nicky Hopkins on piano. They recorded it in L.A., opting for a full sound reminiscent of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, something not coincidentally helped along by using some studio engineers who oft worked with Spector. Ringo – well ahead of his time – later made a video (or “promotional film” as he would call it then) for the song back in England, at Tittenhurst Park, the famous estate that he’d just bought from John Lennon.

The song managed to sound fairly upbeat despite having forlorn lyrics about the guy who couldn’t forget a love from the past who was gone, leaving him with only a photograph. And it sounded good, something that would have sounded right at home on a number of Beatles albums. Record Mirror upon its release also predicted it would be a “giant smash,” admiring how it sounded big but “nothing’s overdone so as to take away from the song.”

Photograph” hit #1 in New Zealand and Australia (where it would be his only #1) and Canada, where it was his second, and proving Billboard right, also in the U.S., where it got him a gold record. His native land was a bit of an exception though, with it only getting to #8 in the UK.


13 thoughts on “October 18 – Picture When Ringo’s Star(r) Was On The Rise

  1. 70smusicblog

    ‘Back off Boogaloo’ was one of the first (well, probs among the first 10 or so) singles I bought. Still love it!
    I’ve always said I liked the Beatles better fro their individual output (not that the group stuff was mince, or anything) and Ringo was no exception. Some years ago I was sent a copy of a new Compilation of his tracks. I can’t find it right now, but there was hardly a weak track on the double album – even those I’d never heard before were well good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Badfinger (Max)

    Ringo bust out of the gate pretty fast…him and George were hot. I saw an interview with John on the Tomorrow show… he was saying how he worried about Ringo when they broke up but then he said…he sent Ringo a telegram saying congrats on his new song and would he write John a hit song lol?
    He does have that nice guy image…I just wish his drumming was more appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. he is good as a drummer… he might have stood out more in a less talented band, ironically. He seems to have really found his niche with the All starr band in the last couple of decades.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        It’s a great setup he has now… you go to a show and you will get your money’s worth. When he is done touring I have to think that someone else does the same thing.
        His drumming on Sgt Pepper alone is great. I’ve seen drummer forums where people would ask…did the Beatles let another drummer on that album or is Ringo that good? People are beginning to see.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. several tracks I’ve stopped and listened specifically to his drumming, and yes, it IS good… after all, he was established and the best guy in Liverpool when they recruited him. But his approach (not taking over the song) and the talent level of the other 3 made him go under-appreciated for years.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Badfinger (Max)

        Yes he plays for the song…only for the song. Moon and Bonham…while great…played to be heard and pushed to the front…and that is not a knock on them…they were in hard rock so it fit with what they were doing.
        Starr and Watts could swing and play rock and roll.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Photograph is a well written song and it does suit Ringo’s voice really well- it adds that dolorous note even though it does bounce around in an upbeat way.
    The amount of people who have played in his all Starr band is phenomenal. and never a bad word- that must show he is a good guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s my thought too – to get along with so many other, varied talented guys (and occasionally gals) must say something about his character… especially when the band means they all have to take somewhat secondary roles, instead of being front and center for most of the show.
      ‘Dolourous’… Professor Obbverse’s class is in session! Learned a new word today!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a good song. Frankly, even if he did itsy bitsy spider, I’d still enjoy it. Ringo just radiates positivity that makes me happy. If I had a choice who to hang out with, John, Paul, George or Ringo, undoubtedly, I’d go with Ringo, as much as I admire the other three.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s