An ‘Embarrassing’ Ringo Starr Song Gave The Rolling Stones an Early Hit

In the 1960s, a song Ringo Starr often sang with The Beatles morphed into an early hit for The Rolling Stones. Starr, who sang lead the least out of his bandmates, sang a cover song. Paul McCartney said the band found the song embarrassing, resulting in them writing a new song for Starr. They ended up giving it to The Rolling Stones.

The Beatles turned a Ringo Starr song into a hit for The Rolling Stones

The Beatles befriended The Rolling Stones in the 1960s. When the Stones asked McCartney and John Lennon for a song, they had a clear idea of the one they should give them.

“I remember seeing Mick and Keith in a taxi and shouting, ‘Hey, Mick — give us a lift!’” McCartney said, per The Beatles Anthology. “We jumped in; they were on their way to the recording studio and Mick said, “Here, you got any songs we could have? We’ve got a contract with Decca.’ We thought, “Hmmm.’ We did have one we’d written for Ringo, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man.’”

They wrote the song because they found the one Starr had previously been singing “embarrassing.”

“Ringo always used to do a song in the show,” McCartney said. “Back then he had ‘Boys’. It was a little embarrassing because it went, ‘I’m talking about boys — yeah, yeah — boys.’ It was a Shirelles hit and they were girls singing it, but we never thought we should call it ‘Girls’ just because Ringo was a boy. We just sang it the way they’d sung it and never considered any implications. So we tried to write something else for Ringo, something like ‘Boys,’ and we came up with ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ — a Bo Diddley kind of thing.”

They decided to give the Stones the song, mostly because Lennon viewed it as a “throwaway.” Still, it was a success for The Rolling Stones. It became their first Top 20 hit in the UK, peaking at No. 12.

How did The Beatles help The Rolling Stones’ career?

Clearly, this song was a gift for the Stones. According to McCartney, though, The Beatles did more than just give them an early hit; they were partially responsible for getting them a record deal.

“The idea of our being rivals with The Rolling Stones was newspaper talk,” he said. “It was natural that we would seem to be rivals, but in fact George got them their recording contract. He was at a party with Dick Rowe, the man famous for having turned The Beatles down for Decca.”

Harrison confirmed that he had recommended the band to Rowe. Without The Beatles, though, The Rolling Stones would have undoubtedly still been a success. “I Wanna Be Your Man” was an early success, but they hit No. 1 with their original songs soon after. By 1965, they had a No. 1 hit across the world with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The Beatles helped them, but they soon proved they didn’t need it.

The Rolling Stones recruited Paul McCartney, not Ringo Starr, for a new album

Decades after The Beatles gave “I Wanna Be Your Man” to The Rolling Stones, members of the two bands plan to reunite. Initial reports said McCartney and Starr would both appear on The Rolling Stones’ upcoming album. Ultimately, though, only McCartney will appear on the album, playing bass.

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