Many years after it was recorded, Ringo Starr discovered that John Lennon had left a message for him on one of his final demos.
Last year we reported on the reunion of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr for a John Lennon tribute.
Lennon had written Grow Old With Me during writing sessions for his Grammy Award-winning final record Double Fantasy, right before he was shot in 1980. However, his bandmates only learned of the demos many years later.
Ringo Starr was introduced to the song by Jack Douglas, the producer behind Double Fantasy.
Speaking to the BBC, Ringo described: “I’d never heard about this track and I bumped into the producer, Jack Douglas. He said ‘Did you ever hear the John cassette?”
” (I said) ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,'” Ringo continued. “He said ‘I’ll get you a copy.'”
It was only upon receiving the demo that Ringo discovered that Lennon had left a message for him at the beginning of the song.
“It was hard to listen to in the beginning because John talks about me, mentions me,” Starr revealed. “‘It says on the beginning ‘This will be great for you, Ringo.'”
“The idea that John was talking about me in that time before he died, well, I’m an emotional person,” described Starr.
It was this messaged that prompted Starr to re-record the track, enlisting the help of Paul McCartney to play bass. The rendition was produced by Douglas and even featured an iconic string section from Here Comes The Sun written by George Harrison.
“So in a way, it’s the four of us,” Starr described. “He’d have loved it.”
Speaking once with Dave Grohl, Starr described of Lennon’s death:
“When John went, I was in the Bahamas. I was getting a phone call from my stepkids in L.A. saying, ‘Something’s happened to John.’ And then they called and said, ‘John’s dead,’”
“And I didn’t know what to do,” continued Starr.
“And I still well up that some bastard shot him. But I just said, ‘We’ve got to get a plane.’ We got a plane to New York, and you don’t know what you can do.
“We went to the apartment. ‘Anything we can do?’ And Yoko just said, ‘Well, you just play with Sean. Keep Sean busy.’ And that’s what we did. That’s what you think: ‘What do you do now?’”
In many ways, Starr’s rendition of Grow Old With Me is all the more moving because he is still able to live out the dream that Lennon had envisaged for himself and Ono when he had written the song – growing old with a loved one.
Ringo Starr’s version of the track came out last October, and the accompanying lyric video even features Lennon’s original handwritten lyrics. Check it out below.