If there is one vision of The Beatles that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, then it has to be that of the perenially affable Ringo Starr beaming a smile that would make a cream-laden cat feel comparatively mopey. The drummer, often cruelly acting as the butt of Fab Four jokes, was a man that commanded adoration and purveyed a sense of welcoming comfort for friend and fan alike. But, that doesn’t mean the musician didn’t have a sharper side.
More often thought of as the cuddly side of the band, considering John Lennon’s cold artistic integrity, Paul McCartney’s dedication to the craft and the scything wit of George Harrison, Starr’s claws came out on more than a few occasions. Of course, there was the moment he quit The Beatles, only rejoining the group after a holiday with Peter Sellers produced his famous song ‘Octopus Garden’. But perhaps his fiercest moment came after the group had already split.
The Fab Four quickly drew their lines in the sand when The Beatles broke up. Lennon and McCartney were seemingly at war almost instantly while Harrison seemed to saddle up alongside the bespectacled Beatle as they joined together to write barbed songs about Macca. Ringo Starr, however, appeared to not really give himself over to the tabloid rivalries and, instead, concentrated on his own work. It saw him become one of the more prosperous members of the band.
There aren’t many moments within the Beatles’ break up where Ringo Starr puts on his boxing gloves and goes to war. More often than not, his songs were tinged with the idea of reconciliation. One such track, ‘Early 1970’, has always been seen as one of Ringo’s best, but, in truth, we couldn’t really call it a song where Ringo threw shade at his bandmates.
The truth is, with ‘Early 1970’ Ringo was always aiming to bring them together with the number. The drummer was trying to show that what bound the group together was more important than what tore them apart. However, on ‘Back Off Boogaloo’, released in 1972, he let it all hang out and sent out some serious shots for his former bandmates, including one man in particular.
While the band were all happy to throw out razor-sharp barbs at one another, one man certainly bore the brunt of the material. Ringo used this one to again aim at Paul McCartney, this time using the song to show his displeasure at McCartney’s recordings. Once again, there would be one band member that Ringo could rely on for some sonic support — George Harrison.
With Harrison on the guitar, providing some of his more inspiring post-Beatles work, Ringo calls McCartney a “meathead” and goes further by singing: “Get yourself together now and give me something tasty / Everything you try to do / You know it sure sounds wasted.” In truth, if you were in the know, Ringo’s song title said all you needed to know. ‘Boogaloo’ was Ringo’s nickname for McCartney, and the message was clear from the off.
Of course, the two men would settle their differences and have shared the stage on plenty of occasions since. There could be a good argument to suggest that the drummer exorcised his issues the right way.