Sir Ringo Starr has revealed the unexpected message John Lennon left for him on a long-lost demo recorded shortly before his death.
Sir Ringo has teamed up with Sir Paul McCartney to record a version of Grow Old With Me, which was written by Lennon during the sessions for Double Fantasy, the final record he made before he was shot dead outside his Manhattan apartment on December 8 1980.
Sir Ringo said he only learned of the demo and the personal message from his former Beatles bandmate years later, prompting him to record the song.
The former Beatles drummer, 79, was introduced to the song by record producer Jack Douglas, who produced Lennon’s Grammy-winning album, which is also credited to Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.
Sir Ringo told the BBC: “I’d never heard about this track and I bumped into the producer, Jack Douglas. He said ‘Did you ever hear the John cassette?’.
“(I said) ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He said ‘I’ll get you a copy.’
“It says on the beginning ‘This will be great for you, Ringo.’ And so I said ‘I’m going to do the track.’”
Of Lennon, he added: “He’d have loved it.”
Sir Ringo enlisted the help of Sir Paul, 77, to play bass on the track, which he previously admitted had brought him to tears when he first heard it.
Announcing his new album, What’s My Name, on which Grow Old With Me features, last month, Sir Ringo said: “Jack asked if I ever heard The Bermuda Tapes, John’s demos from that time. And I had never heard all this.
“The idea that John was talking about me in that time before he died, well, I’m an emotional person.
“And I just loved this song. I sang it the best that I could. I do well up when I think of John this deeply. And I’ve done my best. We’ve done our best.”
He added: “The other good thing is that I really wanted Paul to play on it, and he said yes.
“Paul came over and he played bass and sings a little bit on this with me. So, John’s on it in a way. I’m on it and Paul’s on it.”
Sir Ringo recorded the album, his 20th solo record, in his home studio, known as Roccabella West, enlisting a number of regular contributors and members of his touring All-Starr Band.
The record also features a cover of Barrett Strong’s Motown hit Money (That’s What I Want), famously covered by the Fab Four.
Sir Ringo will also release a new book called Another Day In The Life, in which he reflects on his love of music, travel and nature.