Ringo Starr could always rely on a little help from his friends. The drummer’s 1973 solo album was the only post-Beatles record to feature every member of the Fab Four (albeit on different songs). Yet Ringo got stood up by Bob Dylan as the ex-Beatle worked on a solo album in 1987. Similar to the time Paul McCartney threatened him and made Ringo emotional, Dylan wasn’t very kind to one of his friends.
Ringo Starr and Bob Dylan formed a solid relationship
The story of The Beatles conquering the United States is practically rock history 101 at this point. After winning over English fans with their earliest singles, the Fab Four won over millions of U.S. fans with their Feb. 9, 1964, appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The band met Dylan when they toured the U.S. more extensively later that year. That was also the first time The Beatles got high, and Ringo was the first to smoke Dylan’s stash.
Ringo never hid his love of Dylan’s music. The drummer once told the Celebrity Playlist Podcast that he could talk about the bard’s songs for days. One of the most brilliant songs he wrote was a Bob Dylan copy.
The pair shared the stage at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Ringo dropped in for a guest spot on Dylan’s 1981 Shot of Love album. That didn’t matter when Ringo was stood up by Dylan while working on a solo record in the 1980s.
Dylan stood up Ringo as the drummer worked on a solo record in 1987
Ringo’s 1980 record Stop & Smell the Roses was his only release of the decade (1983’s Old Wave didn’t land in the United States until 1994). Yet the drummer went to Memphis, Tenn., in 1987 to work on a solo record that never saw the light of day.
And Dylan ditched Ringo in the process.
As he told the Celebrity Playlist Podcast, Dylan showed up to the Memphis studio but decided Elvis’ Graceland was the bigger draw:
“I did a track in Memphis with Bob. I was doing an album there, and he came up to sing on it, but the album fell apart, and so did we. One thing was that the person who was looking out for Bob at that time said, ‘Bob’s gone.’ So I said, ‘Where’s he gone?’ ‘Graceland.’ I said, ‘That’s good,’ and he said, ‘That’s bad.’ It depends on which way you look at it.”
The drummer said Dylan’s exit was good or bad, depending on how you view it. The only way to look at it for Ringo is that Dylan stood him up. He laid down a demo version of the song “Wish I Knew Then (What I Knew Now),” singing harmonies with Ringo and providing a harmonica solo. Then he left the drummer in the lurch. Memphis’ most popular music-related tourist attraction was a bigger draw than working with an ex-Beatle, it seems.
Ringo’s 1987 Memphis sessions remain buried. It’s likely we’ll never hear an official version of Ringo’s work with Dylan, but an unofficial bootleg lives on YouTube.
The drummer didn’t hold a grudge
Ringo got left behind by Dylan after a brief collaboration in a Memphis studio. Graceland held more sway than the recording sessions with the drummer. The famous troubadour also visited Sun Studios (per a Medium article) while there.
Even though Dylan ditched Ringo, the drummer didn’t hold a grudge. He and George Harrison welcomed Dylan (and several other musicians) to join play during The Beatles Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1988. After Ringo found sobriety and started touring for the first time since his Beatles days, he played drums on two songs at a Dylan concert in Paris in 1989 (unauthorized video via YouTube).
Decades later, the drummer chose a 21st century tune as his favorite Dylan song. Ringo Starr got stood up by Bob Dylan while working on a solo record in 1987, but clearly, that didn’t diminish the drummer’s high opinion of the singer-songwriter.
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