John Lennon always tried to look out for Ringo Starr. From writing songs for the drummer during the tenure of The Beatles to keeping a watchful eye on his solo career, it would be a relationship that resulted in a word of advice regarding the ascension of Debbie Harry and Blondie.
Despite popular belief, Lennon never referred to Ringo as “not even the best drummer in The Beatles”, that was a myth that fellow Liverpudlian Jasper Carrott made up during a show on the BBC in 1983. The two Beatles always enjoyed a positive relationship, and even though they might not have seen each other for extended periods, they made sure to stay in touch.
Maintaining contact despite being in different corners of the world was difficult, but that didn’t stop their friendship from flourishing, and postcards were their chosen method of communication. Even though ‘The Fab Four’ enjoyed unparalleled success, it wasn’t immediately clear how Ringo would cope outside of the prism of the band, a situation that made John anxious. The drummer was not a natural songwriter, and whether he’d be a frontman was unknown to everybody.
The song Ringo Starr wrote that pokes fun at Paul McCartney
Decades after Lennon’s death, Ringo unearthed a plethora of postcards that he discovered from his old bandmate, which sent him on a journey down memory lane. However, it was one message, in particular, that stood out from the rest. One note from 1979 sees the singer try to get the percussionist to follow in the footsteps of New York’s hottest punks, Blondie.
The most eye-opening factor is that when Lennon offered advice to Ringo about his solo career, a note in which he tells his longtime friend that “Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ is the type of stuff y’all should do. Great and simple.”
Coincidentally, Blondie’s Chris Stein later spoke about how The Beatles inadvertently helped shape ‘Heart Of Glass’. “Even ‘Heart Of Glass’ was a subversive thing for a so-called punk band. But, at the same time, our role models were Bowie and The Beatles,” he told The Sun.
Stein added, “You never really knew what to expect from them. The Ramones had their sound and identity and they stuck to it. That’s not what we set out to do. We have a broader musical palette… but the punk attitude prevails!”
More importantly, the postcard shows Lennon’s love for his friend and highlights the incessant concern he had for Ringo’s career after the split of The Beatles. Fascinatingly, during Lennon’s final TV interview in 1975, he spoke about his joy at seeing the drummer prosper in his own right. “I’m most happy for Ringo’s success because it always went round that Ringo was dumb, but he ain’t dumb,” Lennon commented. “He just didn’t have that much writing ability, and he wasn’t known for writing his own material.”
“There was a bit of a worry, although he can make movies and he does make movies and he’s good at it, but how was his recording career gonna be? And in general, it’s probably better than mine actually,” he added.
Their friendship was truly heartening, and even though The Beatles went through periods of bitter hatred, that was never the case between Lennon and Starr. They always shared a special bond, no matter what else was going on between other members of the group, and the postcard below shows that Ringo was always in his heart.