Ringo (song)

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Single by Lorne Greene
B-side "Bonanza"
Released 1964
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1964[1]
Genre Country pop
Length 3:14
Label RCA Victor
Songwriter(s) Don Robertson
Hal Blair
Lorne Greene singles chronology
"I'm the Same Ole Me"
"The Man"

"I'm the Same Ole Me"
"The Man"

"Ringo" is a popular song written by Don Robertson and Hal Blair. It was a hit single for Canadian-born actor Lorne Greene in 1964.

It reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts on December 5, 1964, as well as garnering the same spot on the "Easy Listening" chart, where it retained the position for six weeks.[2] The single also peaked at #21 on the Hot Country Singles chart.[3] In Canada, it hit #1[4] on the RPM top singles chart on December 7, 1964.

The song's sung lyrics are limited to the title word alone, performed by an unidentified male chorus. The rest of the vocal performance consists of a spoken-word, first-person account of a Western lawman and his relationship with a notorious gunfighter, Ringo. The account in the song does not fit the known historical facts of the life of Western outlaw Johnny Ringo, but Greene was under the impression that the song was indeed about "Johnny Ringo the outlaw." [5]

The "B" side of the disc contained a vocal version of the theme song of Greene's TV show Bonanza, with lyrics that were never used on the show.

Greene recorded a French-language version of "Ringo" with "Du Sable" ("Sand") on the flip side of the 45, released on the RCA Victor Canada International label #57-5623. French is the official second language of Canada; English is the first.

A German-language cover by Ferdy changes the meaning somewhat and alters the ending, but is otherwise fairly close to the English version. Like Greene's French-language edition, the single is also backed with a German version of Sand.

Like "Bonanza", "Ringo" began as a track on Greene's Welcome to the Ponderosa RCA Victor LP in late 1963. On the album each track was supplemented with an introduction to each song, separately tracked. While it may be true that Ringo Starr's popularity, by virtue of his being one of The Beatles, prompted "Ringo" to be released as a single, even though it was never about him, Greene did not share that view. He said the song was written as a typical western ballad, in the vein of "El Paso" by Marty Robbins. And given his fame on "Bonanza," he had asked the two songwriters to come up with a song that fit in with his persona on that show. However, he acknowledged that some teens who bought the record were probably expecting it to be about Ringo Starr, although once they listened, Greene believed they were not disappointed that the song was actually about a western outlaw. [6] Greene also noted that recording of the album featuring "Ringo" began before the Beatles became popular in the United States. [7]

The album's introductions to each track were left off of the single release. "Ringo" debuted in Billboard in October 1964. At the same time a special promotional recording by Greene (possibly Canadian only) was sent to radio stations to promote the album, where he speaks about seven of the album's tracks. "Ringo" was the lead track. On it, he talks about the probable confusion between his song character and The Beatles and the "wonderful drummer of theirs", assuring the listener that it is not about him. About this time the album had been upgraded to include a notation on the front jacket, FEATURING THE BIG HIT "RINGO".

A completely sung version of the song was recorded by Riders in the Sky.[8] Their version is a remake of the version done years earlier by the Sons of the Pioneers in which member Tommy Doss sang the lead.

In December 1964 the first parody of the song was issued; "Gringo", written by Marty Cooper and H.B. Barnum. Cooper himself would record it under the name "El Clod", a name he had used in 1962 to record a parody on the Challenge label for the song "Wolverton Mountain", which was called "Tiajuana Border". This "Ringo" parody would be issued on Vee Jay Records.

Other parodies soon followed, including two by Frank Gallop with his 1966 hit single "The Ballad of Irving" on the Kapp label, which was quickly chased with a sequel, "The Son Of Irving" on the Musicor label (also in 1966). Another was released in the 1980s by Dutch comedian Andre van Duin (as "Bingo"); and then by Country Yossi and the Shteeble Hoppers (as "Shlomo"). Allan Sherman sang a parody on his special Allan Sherman's Funnyland on January 19, 1965, on which Lorne Greene also sang the original "Ringo."

The 2005 short film "Ringo", which used the song along with public-domain footage of John Wayne and Roy Rogers, won the Short Film Award for animated film at the 2005 Seattle International Film Festival.[9]



  1. ^ Bronson, Fred, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard Books, 1992, p. 161
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 108. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 143. 
  4. ^ https://musiccanada.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/1964s-biggest-canadian-hits/
  5. ^ Mary Campbell. "Hit Parade is Topped by Stone Age Presley." Brunswick (GA) News, December 16, 1964, p. 10.
  6. ^ Mary Campbell. "Hit Parade is Topped by Stone Age Presley." Brunswick (GA) News, December 16, 1964, p. 10.
  7. ^ Earl Wilson. "He Was So Honored He Forgot to Insult Big Ben." (Columbia SC) The State, December 9, 1964, p. 16.
  8. ^ It is featured on their 2003 album Silver Jubilee.
  9. ^ Awards for Ringo - Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ Tedesco,Tommy, Tommy Tedesco: Confessions of a Guitar Player: An Autobiography. Centerstream Publishing, Fullerton, California, 1993 p.68