Following the split of The Beatles, all four members of the group found themselves living separate lives for the first time in almost a decade – and it took its toll on all of them. Even Ringo Starr couldn’t resist a playful dig at his old bandmate on one of his first forays into solo territory.
Even before they officially went their own way, it was clear that a split was on the cards, and an event happened on March 31st that would lead to Ringo’s friendship with Paul into troubled waters. As Starr was the friendliest Beatle, he was handed the task of passing McCartney a letter from the band informing him that they’d requested EMI to push back his debut solo album to stop it clashing with Let It Be.
“Ringo came to see me. He was sent, I believe – being mild mannered, the nice guy – by the others, because of the dispute,” McCartney explained about the argument in Anthology. “So Ringo arrived at the house, and I must say I gave him a bit of verbal. I said: ‘You guys are just messing me around.’ He said: ‘No, well, on behalf of the board and on behalf of The Beatles and so and so, we think you should do this,’ etc.
“I was just fed up with that. It was the only time I ever told anyone to GET OUT! It was fairly hostile. But things had got like that by this time. It hadn’t actually come to blows, but it was near enough,” Macca reflected.
He added, “Unfortunately it was Ringo. I mean, he was probably the least to blame of any of them, but he was the fall guy who got sent round to ask me to change the date – and he probably thought: ‘Well, Paul will do it,’ but he met a different character because now I was definitely boycotting Apple.”
Meanwhile, Ringo said about the event, “I went to see Paul. To my dismay, he went completely out of control, shouting at me, prodding his fingers towards my face, saying: ‘I’ll finish you now’ and ‘you’ll pay’. He told me to put my coat on and get out. I did so.”
Ten days later, it was revealed to the world on April 10th that The Beatles were no more. Additionally, McCartney ended up getting his way with ‘The Fab Four’ pushing Let It Be back until May 8th, with McCartney arriving on April 17th as initially intended.
In the period before The Beatles’ break-up was announced and the tumultuous meeting at Paul’s home, Ringo entered the studio with the fight still ringing in his mind, which he got off his chest on his song ‘Early 1970’. The first verse sees Ringo take aim directly at Paul, and while his lyrics aren’t menacing or cruel, it’s clear that personal issues were still rumbling beneath the surface.
He snarls, “Lives on a farm, got plenty of charm, beep, beep, He’s got no cows but he’s sure got a whole lotta sheep, A brand new wife and a family, And when he comes to town I wonder if he’ll play with me.” However, the song isn’t all negative about his former bandmates with the following verse about Lennon, and finds Starr singing, “And when he comes to town, I know he’s gonna play with me.” The track even features George Harrison, who erupts into a solo after the sincere lyric: “Cause he’s always in town playing for you with me,” which is about the guitarist.
Even though there was a hostile undertone to his barbs at McCartney, Ringo couldn’t bring himself to stay angry at him for too long, and on the final line, he sings, “And when they come to town, I wanna see all three”.
There’s a reason why George Harrison and John Lennon made Ringo feel the wrath of an angered McCartney, which is clear from ‘Early 1970’. Despite Macca’s acidic words to him during their altercation, he stopped himself from saying anything overtly spiteful. Instead, he kept it lighthearted and left the song on a message of hope.