'm most happy -- I guess we all are in a way -- for Ringo's success," John Lennon told Tom Snyder in an interview for the Tomorrow show on NBC. "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?" Pausing to laugh, John concluded, "And in general, it's probably better than mine!"
But it's not surprising the other Beatles were worried about how well he would do on his own. As the drummer for the Beatles, he was overshadowed by the writing of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, and sang the fewest amount of lead vocals. Not that his songs were unpopular -- "Yellow Submarine," "Boys," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Act Naturally" all had many devotees, as did the first Beatles song composed by Ringo, "Don't Pass Me By" on the double album, The Beatles.
Ringo's first solo LP was Sentimental Journey, a collection of standards produced by George Martin and arranged by a roster of luminaries that included Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, Elmer Bernstein, Maurice Gibb and Richard Perry. The first solo single by Ringo was the title track of his second album, Beaucoups of Blues, a country and western LP produced by Pete Drake in Nashville. That single spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, only climbing as high as 87.
But the tide turned with Ringo's second single, "It Don't Come Easy." Written by Ringo and produced by George, it was a bona fide hit, peaking at number four in June, 1971. The follow-up, "Back Off Boogaloo," was also written by Ringo and produced by George. It went to number nine in May, 1972.
In early 1973, producer Richard Perry asked Ringo if he would like to be a presenter with Harry Nilsson at the Grammy Awards, originating that year in Nashville. Ringo had played on drums on Nilsson's second LP, which Perry had produced, and accepted the invitation. "After Ringo telling me that he would do it, he phoned me back and said, 'Listen, I'm not going to Nashville just for the Grammy Awards. Remember you talked about going into the studio? Let's go in and see what happens.' So without any lawyers knowing anything about it, we came back to L.A., and in five days had recorded five tracks, which included he three major singles from the album, 'Photograph,' 'You're Sixteen' and 'Oh My My,'" Perry revealed in The Record Producers by John Tobler and Stuart Grundy.
George Harrison and John Lennon were in Los Angeles, and they became excited enough about the project to lend assistance. George, who co-wrote "Photograph" with Ringo, played 12-string acoustic guitar and sang harmony vocals.
"Photograph" was released as a single six weeks prior to the Ringo album. Debuting at number 74 on the Hot 100, it took only seven weeks to reach number one.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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