Ringo Starr Named His Favorite Song John Lennon Wrote for Him

Ringo Starr on the cover of The Beatles' 'Let It Be'


John Lennon wrote a bad song for Ringo Starr. That’s just sad, considering four classic rock stars — one of whom was not a member of The Beatles —worked on it!

John Lennon wrote multiple Ringo Starr songs after The Beatles broke up. Ringo named his favorite song John wrote for him. Despite Ringo’s claims to the contrary, it’s nothing special. That’s just sad, considering four classic rock stars — one of whom was not a member of The Beatles —worked on it!

John Lennon wrote a song for Ringo Starr about how great the drummer was

During a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone, Ringo picked his favorite. “I think the finest song he wrote for me was ‘I’m the Greatest,’” he said. “And look, you got me going. 

“I miss the guy,” Ringo continued. “Miss him, I miss George. I still miss those two boys. But you know, I’ve still got my brother. So we’re OK.” Ringo is an only child, so the “brother” he mentioned was likely Paul McCartney.

John Lennon revealed why he felt like he couldn’t sing the song himself

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In it, he explained what inspired “I’m the Greatest.” “It’s the Muhammad Ali line, you know,” he said. Ali was known for calling himself “the greatest of all time.” “I couldn’t sing it, but it was perfect for Ringo. He could say ‘I’m the greatest’ and people wouldn’t get upset. Whereas if I said ‘I’m the greatest,’ they’d all take it so seriously.”

John was asked if he enjoyed working on “I’m the Greatest” with Ringo, George Harrison, and soul singer/Beatles collaborator Billy Preston. “Well, yeah, except when George and Billy Preston started saying, ‘Let’s form a group,’” he recalled. “I was embarrassed when George kept asking me. He was just enjoying the session, and the spirit was very good, but I was with Yoko, you know.” John felt it was offensive for George and Preston to ask about forming an all-male group while Yoko was in the room. He also repeatedly emphasized that he had no interest in reforming The Beatles. 

Ringo Starr’s ‘I’m the Greatest’ feels like a major missed opportunity

Some of The Beatles’ album tracks are huge. “Here Comes the Sun.” “A Day in the Life.” “Michelle.” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” A song can resonate for generations even if it wasn’t a single. Despite this, “I’m the Greatest” fell by the wayside.

The reason for that is obvious: it’s not a very good song. The beat is limp. It doesn’t live up to the cockiness of the title. 

The tune also features references to previous Ringo tunes “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Back Off Boogaloo” that just sound silly. A song about Ringo’s greatness could have worked, but it probably should have been an energetic hard-rock song instead of a comic burlesque tune. The most interesting thing about the song is that it featured contributions from so many rock stars, but that only makes the final result so much more disappointing.

Ringo’s “I’m the Greatest” isn’t one of his greatest songs but he appreciated John’s contributions to it.

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