I'm the Greatest
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|"I'm the Greatest"|
|Song by Ringo Starr from the album Ringo|
|Released||2 November 1973 (US)
23 November 1973 (UK)
|Recorded||March - July 1973|
|Ringo track listing|
"I'm the Greatest" is a song written by John Lennon for Ringo Starr; both former members of the music group The Beatles. It was released by Starr on the 1973 Ringo album as well as four compilation and live albums. The song was included on Starr's greatest hits album, Blast from Your Past.
The song was written after John Lennon saw the first TV airing of the Beatles' film, A Hard Day's Night, on BBC1, on 28 December 1970. On this day, and the following day, Lennon records demos of "I'm the Greatest", and another song, "Make Love Not War". At this point, Lennon had the intention of recording "I'm the Greatest" himself. Towards the end of recording sessions for his Imagine album in 1971, Lennon recorded another demo of "I'm the Greatest".
Parts of the lyrics, which hint at The Beatles:
- "I was in the greatest show on Earth,
- For what it was worth.
- Now I'm only thirty-two;
- And all I wanna do, is boogaloo
- Yes, my name is Billy Shears,
- You know it has been for so many years.
- Now I'm only thirty-two;
- And all I wanna do, is boogaloo for ever"
Lennon had completely forgotten about the song until Starr requested a song from Lennon to record for Starr's Ringo (1973) album. Starr sings lead vocals and plays drums, Lennon plays piano and sings harmony vocals and George Harrison plays electric guitar; Billy Preston on organ and Klaus Voormann on bass. It is one of only a few non-Beatles songs to feature three members of the band. Richard Perry produced the recording.
At this point after the end of The Beatles as a band, three of them—Starr, Lennon and Harrison—in addition to Voormann and Preston (Preston often referred to as one of the multiple "Fifth Beatles"), appear on this record. Not surprisingly, when word of that session hit the media, furious Beatles reunion rumours began spreading.
"I'm the Greatest" is the only record which matches the line up of a post-Beatles group The Ladders, which George Harrison intended to install with his two former band mates and other fellow musicians like Voormann and Preston.
Near the end of the song, it musically quotes Harrison's "I Dig Love", which Starr had played on three years earlier.
- Ringo Starr - lead vocals, drums
- John Lennon - harmony vocals, piano
- George Harrison - lead guitar
- Billy Preston - organ
- Klaus Voorman - bass guitar
A version with John Lennon lead vocals appears on 1998's John Lennon Anthology. Many Lennon bootlegs include a version of this song with only piano, bass, drums and Lennon on lead vocals.
- Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980 (illustrated ed.). New York: Backbeat Books. p. 123. ISBN 9780879309688.
- Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, ed. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970-2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 9780711983076.
- Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 222. ISBN 9780753508435.
- Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980 (illustrated ed.). New York: Backbeat Books. p. 74. ISBN 9780879309688.
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