People, Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friend

Photos by Wikimedia Commons

Ringo first met [Harry] Nilsson after the singer did a gonzo version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep-Mountain High.” “It was bordering on madness, and so we thought, ‘We gotta meet this guy,’ ” says Ringo. While Nilsson’s destructive friendship with Lennon got the ink — they drunkenly heckled the Smothers Brothers at L.A.’s Troubadour, and Nilsson infamously ruined his voice doing a cover of “Many Rivers to Cross” with Lennon sitting at the console — it was the drummer in the world’s most famous band and the songwriter who hated playing live who became inseparable as they drank away the 1970s.

“He was my best friend,” says Ringo softly. “Yeah. I loved Harry.”

The two made an unwatchable Dracula movie together and tried to collaborate through their drug-and-booze haze. “I had one song with 27 verses that I gave to Harry to edit, and he got it down to about eight verses,” Ringo says. “It never got recorded.”

—Stephen Rodrick, profiling Ringo Starr for Rolling Stone.

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