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Ringo Starr earns a solo #1 hit with “Photograph”

Ringo Starr becomes the third former Beatle to earn a solo #1 hit when “Photograph” tops the Billboard Hot 100 on November 24, 1973. Ringo Starr—the man who replaced Pete Best on drums in the Beatles in 1962—once famously proclaimed of his role in the group that he was “joost happy to be here.” But just because he was willing to act the part of the blindly lucky tagalong on the Beatles’ gravy train doesn’t mean that it was true. Ringo Starr’s quietly spectacular drumming laid a foundation for the Beatles’ revolutionary sound, and his self-effacing charm became a key component of the Fab Four’s popular identity. But Starr’s likability was no creation of the media. Indeed, even if fans could never agree on who their favorite Beatle was, there can be no question who was the Beatles’ own favorite: It was Ringo—the one and only member of the Fab Four who maintained a solid friendship with each of his former band mates even after their acrimonious breakup. Proof of Ringo Starr’s special place within the Beatles can be found in his beautiful 2004 book Postcards from the Boys, a collection of sweet, funny and heartfelt cards sent to Starr by his famous former band mates both during and after their years together as Beatles. It is no accident that the former Mr. Richard Starkey was the only former Beatle to have such a collection gathering dust in a drawer at home, just as it is no accident that the only musical project to which all four Beatles ever contributed after their 1970 breakup was his 1973 album Ringo.

Ringo yielded two #1 hits for Starr: “Photograph,” which topped the Billboard pop chart on this day in 1973; and “You’re Sixteen,” which did the same just two months later. “Photograph” was co-written by George Harrison, who also contributed backing vocals and a 12-string guitar solo to the track. Harrison had been the first solo Beatle to top the pop charts back in December 1970 with “My Sweet Lord,” followed shortly thereafter by Paul McCartney with his two-sided 1971 hit “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” McCartney contributed the song “Six O’Clock” to Ringo as well as backing vocals on “You’re Sixteen.” John Lennon, who became the final former Beatle to top the pop charts when “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” hit #1 in November 1974, wrote the opening track of Ringo—”I’m The Greatest”—on which he also played piano and sang backup.