Ringo Starr: “It Don’t Come Easy” (1971)

With a little help from George, Ringo throws his cowboy hat into the rockstar ring and scores an intercontinental Top 10 hit.

Kronomyth 2.4: Ringo’s hit singo.

After two noncommercial albums, Ringo released the single “It Don’t Come Easy,” the first sign that Ringo might have the makings of a rock star. Adopting a sound that borrowed heavily from George Harrison’s solo work, the song introduced what would come to be called “boogaloo,” rock songs with horn charts and a large, loose cast of players that suggested a party with a microphone in the middle. Not for nothing, it was also one of the most fully realized songs that Ringo has ever written, featuring George Harrison on guitar and Ringo himself playing the drums as well as singing.

The flip side finds Ringo in the familiar role of country bumpkin, reprising his turn on “Act Naturally” with an open invitation to the rest of The Beatles on “Early 1970.” The pokes at Paul, John and George (as well as himself) are good-natured, and happily the invitation was accepted by all three during Ringo’s solo career (George was already on board).

Originally a sought-after single, both tracks were later included on the greatest hits compilation Blast From Your Past and, in 1991, the expanded reissue of Ringo. It appears the single was re-released through the ‘70s and ‘80s, a fact I know only through the tireless work of Tim Neely, whose 45 rpm Record Guide is filled with goodies like this. (And, yes, I will scan the labels one of these days so you can track your vinyl through the ages.)

Read more Ringo Starr reviews

Original 7-inch Single Version

A1. It Don’t Come Easy (Richard Starkey) (3:00)
B1. Early 1970 (Richard Starkey) (2:19)

7-inch single reissue (EMI Golden 45s)
A1. It Don’t Come Easy
B1. Back Off Boogaloo

The Players

Ringo Starr (vocals, drums), Tom Evans (backing vocals), Pete Ham (backing vocals), George Harrison (guitars), Klaus Voormann (bass), Gary Wright (piano). Produced by George Harrison (A1), Ringo (B1); engineered by Ken Scott.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on April 9, 1971 in the UK (Apple, R5898), on April 16, 1971 in the US (Apple, 1831) and in April 1971 in Australia (Apple, 9474), Japan (Apple, AR-2800) and New Zealand (Apple, NZP 3402) with picture sleeve; reached #4 on the UK charts and #4 on the US charts (charted on May 1, 1971 for 12 weeks).

  1. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1975 in the US (Apple, 1831) {all rights reserved}
  2. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1976 in the US (Capitol, 1831) {orange label}
  3. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1978 in the US (Capitol, 1831) {purple label}
  4. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1983 in the US (Capitol, 1831) {black label w/ colorband}
  5. Re-packaged with “Back Off Boogaloo” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in May 1984 in the UK (EMI Golden
  6. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1988 in the US (Capitol, 1831) {purple label vers. 2}

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