Ringo Starr swears he had no idea about the 1980 John Lennon ballad, “Grow Old With Me.” The tune, which was originally released in 1984 on Lennon’s posthumous Milk And Honey collection, has just been covered by Ringo and Paul McCartney, with Ringo’s brother-in-law, Joe Walsh on guitar. The track’s string arrangement was done by Lennon’s final producer, Jack Douglas, who turned Ringo on to the track. Ringo’s new album, What’s My Name, will be released on Friday (October 25th).
Ringo spoke to GQ and revealed how he came to hear the 1980 Lennon demo: “I didn’t find it till this year. I never heard about it, never knew about it. I was really emotional when Jack Douglas, the producer who produced John, mentioned it to me. He said, “Have you heard what they call ‘The Bermuda Tapes?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t have a copy.'”
Lennon demoed nearly all the songs that ended up on Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey while in Bermuda during June 1980. Lennon had earmarked two songs specifically for Ringo — the posthumous Lennon classic “Nobody Told Me,” and a second song written back home in New York, called “Life Begins At 40.”
At the beginning (of the ‘Nobody Told Me’ demo) you can hear John say, ‘Oh, this would be good for Richard Starkey. . . this would be great for you, Ring!’ When I first heard that, I did get a little emotional to hear his voice mentioning my name, because I’m an emotional guy. Anyway, he recorded all the other tracks, but (‘Grow Old With Me’) he hadn’t recorded (in the studio). He’d done a demo, that’s all and I had never heard of the song, and had no awareness of it at all. But I thought that it was a beautiful song. I decided I was going to do it and thought it was really important.”
Ringo admitted he’s amazed that nearly 50 years since the Beatles’ split, he’s as busy as ever — still recording new music: “It’s far out, isn’t it? It’s my 20th album. I’m still making albums. We went from vinyl to CD’s, and now it’s vinyls and CD’s that are being sold. And I believe the kids are into cassettes.”
Jack Douglas recalled a recent get-together with Ringo in which he was able to shed light on Lennon’s admiration and affection for Ringo right up until his murder: [“I see him out in L.A. all the time on a regular basis. And we talked one time. I said to him, ‘I just want you to know something, that those last days, John spoke about you so much, and with so much love. Y’know, he loved you. Just like. . . he just absolutely just adored you. And Ringo — you gotta call him ‘Richard,’ now — he just looked at me and he said, ‘That’s really good to know. That’s really good to know.’ He loved ‘im.”] SOUNDCUE (:27 OC: . . . he loved ‘im)
- John Lennon‘s producer Jack Douglas supplied the orchestration to Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney‘s cover of Lennon’s 1980 classic “Grow Old With Me.”
- Douglas, who worked with Lennon up until the night he was murdered, was able to tell Ringo recently how much Lennon loved and admired him up until the end.
- Ringo Starr‘s 20th solo studio set, titled What’s My Name — a tip of the hat to the Beatles drummer’s signature in-concert shout-out to the audience.
- Back in 1994, Yoko Ono gave the surviving Beatles one of Lennon’s demos of “Grow Old With Me” as a possible choice for their Anthology reunion tracks, but the group passed on it at the time.
- Among the other high-profile musicians on Ringo Starr‘s What’s My Name are such friends and/or All Starr Band alumnus as Ringo’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Toto‘s Steve Lukather, Men At Work‘s Colin Hay — who wrote the album’s title track, the Eurythmics‘ Dave Stewart, Edgar Winter, Mr. Mister‘s Richard Page, Nathan East, and the Heartbreakers‘ Benmont Tench, among others.
DID YOU KNOW???
- Back in 2010, in celebration of John Lennon‘s 70th birthday, 1980’s Double Fantasy was reissued with Double Fantasy Stripped Down — a new remix by Jack Douglas, which peeled away layers of overdubs and vocal tracks to showcase the true essence of Lennon’s final work.
- In addition to Lennon, Jack Douglas is best known for his groundbreaking work with Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, and the New York Dolls, among others.