One song is in a league of its own for The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and it is by an artist who played a pivotal role in the formative days of The Fab Four.
Naming your favourite song of all time is a task that changes with the wind, and it’s an almost impossible question to answer. However, thankfully, Ringo didn’t opt-out of answering the line of questioning when he appeared on CBC in 2005, and the drummer provided his definitive response to the age-old subject.
Interestingly, the artist that Starr selected is Ray Charles. The late soul singer’s story crossed paths with The Fab Four on many occasions throughout their time at the zenith of music, and if it weren’t for Charles, then perhaps The Beatles would have never brought Billy Preston into their camp.
Although they first met Preston years prior, when he played with Little Richard in Hamburg while The Beatles were also in the German city, they sadly lost touch as their lives spiralled in differing directions. When George Harrison saw that Preston was in London with Charles in 1967, he went down to catch up with his old friend, and after being wowed by his performance, the ‘Quiet Beatle’ schemed up a plan to bring the keyboardist into the fold with his group.
Charles also covered The Beatles on several occasions, efforts that John Lennon appreciated greatly. Speaking about his favourite covers of their material, he once said: “Well, Ray Charles’ version of ‘Yesterday’ – that’s beautiful. And ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is a groove. I just dig the strings on that. Like ’30s strings.”
Meanwhile, Paul McCartney mentioned the importance of Charles when he inducted Ringo into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015. Macca recalled that when they covered ‘What I’d Say’ by the singer, he immediately knew they’d found their drummer. He recalled: “Most of the drummers couldn’t nail the drum part. It was a little difficult to do. But Ringo nailed it. I remember the moment just standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, that was ‘the moment.’ So you know, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.”
However, that wasn’t the track by Charles that Starr selected, and instead, he selected ‘Tell The Truth’. Explaining his decision, he said: “I love it, I love the live version. Just always blowing me away. In all honesty that’s very unfair, because there is so many songs. People say, ‘Put your top ten′, I can’t. I just cannot do that. It’s a really broad spectrum of music I love.”
The “5” Royales originally recorded the track, but ownership swiftly changed hands after Charles first covered it in 1959 and moulded it in his powerful image.
Take a listen to ‘Tell The Truth’ below.