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Beatles Bizarre Vol. 2

Beatlemania coincided with a renaissance of novelty records, and so it is logical that many of these novelty records would concern themselves with The Beatles. Here is a batch of songs particularly about Ringo, as well as a recording Frank Sinatra made for Ringo”s wife Maureen, and a young Sissy Spacek totally going off John Lennon after being exposed to his luxuriant bouffant of pubic hair displayed on an album cover.

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Rainbo (Sissy Spacek) ““ John, You Went Too Far This Time (1968).mp3
Before she became famous as an actress, including her singing role as country singer Loretta Lynn, Sissy Spacek tried to become a folk singer, releasing a solitary single under the trite moniker Rainbo (which she apparently disliked) before being fired by her label for not being a best-seller. The John whom Sissy Rainbow addresses on this breathtakingly bad record would be Mr Lennon, and his transgression would be letting it all hang out post-coitally on the cover of Two Virgins, his avant garde nonsense recorded with Yoko Ono, who also appears naked on the cover.

Sissy loves John and forgives him many things, but she is not one who would endorse exhibitions of public nudity ““ and in this particular instance I am inclined to concur with her, purely on aesthetic grounds. John and Yoko were not attractive naked people. But if Lennon went too far on a record sleeve, then Spacek (and the chaps who wrote this bizarre thing, John Marshall and Ronald Dulka) overstepped the boundaries of musical decency with that chorus, which supposedly was meant to evoke the Beatles sound. In 1983 Spacek released a full country album, titled Hangin” Up My Heart. She was fully clothed on the cover.

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Bonnie Jo Mason (Cher) ““ Ringo, I Love You (1964).mp3
Another future star recording Beatles-related material under a different name was Cher, who in 1964 sought to buy into the Zeitgeist by declaring her love for the drummer. Before her brief stint as Bonnie Jo Mason, Cherilyn Sarkasian sang backing vocals on classics such as The Ronettes” Be My Baby, The Chiffons” Da Doo Ron Ron and the Righteous Brothers” You”ve Lost That Loving Feeling ““ and it was the producer of those songs, Phil Spector, who co-wrote and produced Ringo, I Love You. Then she recorded as plain Cherilyn (a song called Dream Baby which your faithful correspondent recently featured on the Star Maker Machine blog) and in a duo as Cleo to Sonny Bono”s Caesar. Within just over a year of releasing Ringo, I Love You, Sonny and Cher were stars. The Ringo anthem was backed with an instrumental titled Beatles Blues, a deliberately bad song placed to deter DJs from ignoring the A-side, as they often did. The ploy backfired: apparently radio DJs were thrown by Bonnie Jo”s deep voice and refused to play what they thought was a gay declaration of affection for the Beatles drummer.

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Ella Fitzgerald ““ Ringo Beat (1964).mp3
There were loads of Ringo-themed songs in the mid-“60s, apparently some 50 of them. They included The Rainbows” My Ringo, Christine Hunter’s Santa, Bring Me Ringo, Treat Him Tender, Maureen by Angie & The Chicklettes, Al Fisher & Lou Marks” Ringo Ringo Little Star, Three Blond Mice”s Ringo Bells, The Whippets” Go Go Go With Ringo, Neil Sheppard”s You Can”t Go Far Without A Guitar (Unless You”re Ringo Starr), Ringo Did It by Veronica Lee, I Want To Kiss Ringo Goodbye by Penny Valentine, and Bingo Ringo by Daws Butler (who voiced Huckleberry Hound). Even Ella Fitzgerald got in on the act with Ringo Beat, a rather nice number written by Ella herself (one of her 27 compositions), which naturally features a “yeah yeah” reference and namechecks other contemporary popsters.

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The Young World Singers – Ringo For President (1964).mp3
Released in August 1964, the Young World Singers in their cover of Rolf Harris” song sought to offer an alternative to Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater in that year”s elections for US president, evidently oblivious to the rule that disqualifies those not born in the United States from standing as candidates. And since Ringo was a Kenyan Muslim… In any case, it is doubtful that Ringo, who has acknowledged his limitations in intellectual pursuits, would have been a great president (though the US voters elected a man of even less cerebral qualities to the presidency in 2004).

Of course, it wasn”t cleverness the Young World Singers and the others engaged in the Ringo For President campaign were looking for in their candidate: “He”s our candidate “cause he makes us feel so great. We could talk about war out on the big dance floor. Oh my gee, oh my gingo…if I could vote, I”d vote for Ringo!” Asked at a press conference in August 1964 about the Ringo For President campaign, Starr admited: “I”m not sort of politically minded.” Asked whether he would appoint the other Beatles to his cabinet, the conversation descends into a typical Beatlesque farce, with George interjecting: “I could be the door”, and John nominating himself to serve as the cupboard.

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Don Bowman – The Other Ringo (1966).mp3
In the early “˜60s, there was a popular cowboy hit titled Ringo, recorded by Bonanza star Lorne Green (the Cartwright patriarch), which Don Bowman parodied to coincide with the height of Beatlemania. Bowman notes the death of the old Ringo and the rise of the Beatle by the same name. He seems to be taken particularly with the length of Ringo”s hair. Bowman was a country singer, comedian, TV presenter and DJ who recorded this rather amusing novelty number for his 1966 LP titled Funny Way To Make An Album, which also included a song called Freddy Four Toes. Bowman clearly did not compromise his comedy with artistic credibility: other LPs were titled Fresh From The Funny Farm (1965), Recorded Almost Live (1966), Support Your Local Prison (1967) and Still Fighting Mental Health (1979).

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Dick Lord – Like Ringo (1964).mp3
Don Bowman wasn”t the only one to make the connection between Lorne Greene”s hit and the Beatles drummer. Dick Lord was not a porn actor but a comedian, and  remains one today. At the time of recording Like Ringo, Dick Lord was a close friend of the great Bobby Darin. I the song, Dick Lord”s girlfriend is rather obsessed with the Beatles man, and Dick Lord”s exasperation at being rejected by the obsessed fan turns to ingenuity as he adopts the Ringo look. Eventually Dick Lord”s girlfriend returns to Dick Lord, informing him tearfully that her Ringo infatuation is over. A great punchline awaits, and I shall not spoil it.

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The Bon Bons – What’s Wrong With Ringo? (1964).mp3
A persistent rumour has it that the Bon Bons were the Shangri-Las by another name. It is, alas, not true. What”s Wrong With Ringo was released before the Shangri-Las’ debut single, Remember (Walking In The Sand), was issued by Red Birds Records in September 1964. The Ringo song was released on the Coral label, the Decca subsidiary that had also issued records by Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline and The Vogues, but never had the Weiss and Ganser sisters under contract.The Ringo song was not the Bon Bons” only release; also in 1964 Coral issued the follow-up single Everybody Wants My Boyfriend . Anyway, the question of the song”s title concerns the shortage of Beatles songs sung by Ringo. It seems the record-buying public did not share their concern, and so ignored this quite catchy girl-group record (which includes, of course, the “yeah yeah yeah yeah” thing).

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Frank Sinatra – Maureen Is A Champ (1968).mp3
This tribute to Mrs Ringo is not only a great novelty item, but also something of a historical artefact: it”s the first record to be catalogued on the Beatles” Apple label ““ its number being Apple 1 (Hey Jude was the first Apple release, but it wasn”t catalogued). Only a few copies, some say only one, of Maureen Is A Champ were made before the master tape was destroyed, because this was a private recording to mark Maureen”s 22nd birthday. Maureen was a big Sinatra fan, so a train of events was set in motion, apparently by Beatles business manager Peter Brown, which involved the great Sammy Cahn rewriting Lorenz Hart”s lyrics for The Lady Is A Tramp, and Frank Sinatra ““ who by that point was a Beatles fan (and covered several of their songs) ““ singing the reworked number, with Cahn on piano. We can assume that when Ringo presented his wife with that special record on 4 August 1968, she probably was quite pleased.

Beatles Bizarre Vol. 1
More Beatles stuff

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  1. May 19th, 2011 at 13:48 | #1

    Great stuff. And by “great,” I mean “strange and fascinating.” Thanks a lot.

  2. Don
    May 19th, 2011 at 17:36 | #2

    Not quite correct. We elected him in 2000, then demonstrated that he was smarter than us being electing him again in 2004.

    Folks talk reverently of that actor we had as president in the Eighties, I’m wondering if Johnny Depp would be willing to step in next. I’d let him wear the pirate costume, though I’d prefer if he played the role as Hunter Thompson.

    I’ve always wondered…with only one copy made of the Sinatra record, and the master destroyed, why is it so easy to find a copy? Maureen could have bought herself a lovely birthday present by selling that single off to a wealthy collector.

  3. mikesensei
    May 19th, 2011 at 17:58 | #3

    Fantastic pop archeology, as usual! The Sinatra story in particular is fascinating. Keep up the great work!

  4. halfhearteddude
    May 19th, 2011 at 23:07 | #4

    Ah, Don, but was he really elected in 2000? Good point about GWB (or at least Karl Rove) being smarter. How about Martin Sheen for president. He has the experience.

    I’ve wondered about that Maureen factoid myself. Perhaps some copies were made on the sly, one of which got digitised and disseminated on the Internet.

  5. Ace K
    August 1st, 2012 at 02:36 | #5

    Any chance of reupping this Beatles stuff? If you want me to be specific about what I would REALLY like to get to hear (as opposed to my being a pig and wanting it all), please let me know.

    Ace K.

  6. halfhearteddude
    August 1st, 2012 at 18:25 | #6

    Done.

  7. Stevo
    January 27th, 2014 at 07:50 | #7

    Looks like another victim of the Mediafire meltdown – would love to here some of these!

  8. halfhearteddude
    January 27th, 2014 at 18:06 | #8

    Stevo, the tracks, and those of the first part, are now available at http://www.halfhearteddude.com/2014/01/any-bizarre-beatles/

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