On 17 June 1974, Starr called Lennon, who was about to record his Walls and Bridges album, and asked him to write a song he could include on his next album. Lennon wrote what became the title track, "Goodnight Vienna".[nb 1] A demo of "(It's All Down to) Goodnight Vienna" was recorded by Lennon on 28 June, with the session musicians from Walls & Bridges and sent to Starr in advance of the sessions. Besides writing and playing piano on the title track, Lennon suggested Starr cover The Platters' hit "Only You (And You Alone)" playing acoustic guitar and providing a guide vocal for Starr to follow. Starr's versions of both "Only You (And You Alone)" and "(It's All Down to) Goodnight Vienna" were recorded on 24 August, at a session produced by Lennon.[nb 2]Elton John also contributed a track, "Snookeroo", co-written with Bernie Taupin.Harry Nilsson gave Starr the track "Easy for Me".
"Only You (And You Alone)", backed with "Call Me", was issued as an advance single from the album in the US on 11 November 1974, before the album was released.[nb 3] In the US the song reaching number 8 on the US charts.Goodnight Vienna was released on the same day as the "Only You (And You Alone)" single in the UK on 15 November.[nb 4] The album reached only number 30 in the UK, and would be Starr's last chart album in his homeland until 1998. The album was released in the US on 18 November,[nb 5] and peaked at number 8, ultimately going gold, and its reviews were generally favourable. It was also originally released in quadrophonic. A promo film for "Only You (And You Alone)" was aired on Top of the Pops on 19 December. On 27 January 1975, "No No Song", backed with "Snookeroo", was released in the US, reaching number 3.[nb 6] Nearly a month later, on 21 February, "Snookeroo" was released as a single in the UK, backed with "Oo-Wee".
On 2 June, a special edit of "(It's All Down to) Goodnight Vienna" and "Goodnight Vienna (Reprise)" was released as a single, backed with "Oo-Wee", in the US. The cover artwork for Goodnight Vienna was based on a still from the classic science fiction filmThe Day the Earth Stood Still, with Starr's head replacing that of actor Michael Rennie. Rennie's character was the alien Klaatu. A television commercial, which featured a voiceover from Lennon, depicted the cover's flying saucer (with Starr) over Los Angeles—landing on the roof of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. The commercial was produced by Vidtronics Company Inc. Starr returned the favour and did the voiceover for the commercial for Lennon's Walls and Bridges album. Immediately after filming the commercial, on 14 November 1974, the promo film for "Only You (And You Alone)" was filmed. During the video Starr and Nilsson mimed to the song, on top of the Capitol Records building. The video aired on BBC TV's Top of the Pops show, on 19 December.
Goodnight Vienna was reissued in the US, this time by Capitol in February 1981.[nb 7] The album was remastered and reissued on CD on 30 November 1992 in the UK,[nb 8] and on 23 March 1993 in the US,[nb 9] with three bonus tracks: 1972 hit single "Back Off Boogaloo", its B-Side "Blindman" and an extended version of the McCartney-penned "Six O'Clock", a shorter version of which had earlier appeared on the LP version of Ringo.