By the time The Beatles broke up, the band had grown tired of working together, but Ringo Starr managed to avoid much of his bandmates’ irritation. Starr did not escape the infighting between the former band members, but he was rarely the target of frustration. Here are four instances that prove Starr was the most widely liked Beatle by his bandmates.
The Beatles sent Ringo Starr to make a request of Paul McCartney
In 1970, when The Beatles were still technically together, Paul McCartney planned to release his solo album ahead of Let It Be. The band didn’t think this would be good for their album, and they wanted McCartney to push back his release date. Knowing that this request wouldn’t go over well with McCartney, they sent Starr to ask him.
While Starr had problems with McCartney at this time, he had the most cordial relationship with him. They believed that McCartney was least likely to react angrily to Starr. It didn’t work — McCartney kicked Starr out of his house — but the fact that they sent him proves he had solid standing with his bandmates. Even McCartney admitted that he hadn’t wanted to get into an argument with him.
“I don’t want to fall out with Ringo,” McCartney said in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, adding, “I like Ringo. I think he’s great. We’re all talking about peace and love but really we’re not feeling peaceful at all. There’s no one who’s to blame. We were fools to get ourselves in this situation in the first place.”
Nobody was upset with Ringo Starr for singing an egotistical song
Tensions in The Beatles rose due in part to clashing egos. Because of this, when John Lennon wrote the song “I’m the Greatest,” he knew he couldn’t give it to just anyone. He decided not to perform it himself, and ultimately realized it would be perfect for Starr.
“‘I’m the Greatest.’ It was the Muhammad Ali line, of course,” Lennon told Playboy in 1980. “It was perfect for Ringo to sing. If I said, ‘I’m the greatest,’ they’d all take it so seriously. No one would get upset with Ringo singing it.”
The song marked the only time Lennon, Starr, and George Harrison all worked together after The Beatles broke up.
Ringo Starr mostly avoided John Lennon’s ire after The Beatles broke up
Shortly after The Beatles broke up, Lennon began giving interviews disparaging the group and his former bandmates. His primary target was McCartney, but he also took aim at Harrison and Starr. For the most part, though, Starr avoided his frustration, particularly because of the way he treated Yoko Ono.
“Ringo was all right, so was Maureen, but the other two really gave it to us,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. “I’ll never forgive them, I don’t care what f***in’ s*** about Hare Krishna and God and Paul with his ‘Well, I’ve changed me mind.’ I can’t forgive ’em for that, really. Although I can’t help still loving them either.”
Starr remained particularly close with Lennon in the 1970s and spent a significant amount of time with him during Lennon’s “lost weekend.”
They covered his drum set in flowers to apologize to him
Starr’s friendly relationship with his bandmates didn’t mean he never argued with them or felt overlooked. It eventually reached a point where he decided to leave the band. The rest of the band attempted to continue recording while Starr went on vacation with his family.
Not long after leaving, Starr received a postcard from McCartney that said, “You are the greatest drummer in the world. Really,” (via Ringo: With a Little Help by Michael Seth Starr).
After two weeks on a yacht off the coast of Sardinia, Starr received a telegram from the rest of The Beatles reiterating McCartney’s message. “You’re the best rock and roll drummer in the world. Come on home. We love you.”
When he returned, he found that his bandmates had decorated his drum kit with hundreds of flowers.
“It was just a beautiful moment,” Starr said.
When Harrison and Lennon quit the band, they did not receive the same treatment, showing Starr’s valued position in the group.