Ringo Mistake?

I was watching the Grammy 50th Anniversary Beatles program and toward the end both Ringo and Paul perform solo. During Ringo’s bit he gets up on the drum kit and sings ‘Boys’, but before he does he makes a comment to the effect that he never ‘did’ this song with the Beatles, but performed it while he was with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.


Didn’t Ringo sing ‘Boys’ on the ‘Please Please Me’ album or is my memory faulty? I forgive him for not remembering every song he recorded, but the editors could have edited out his incorrect comment… or am I missing something here?

My entirely uninformed uneducated guess is that he meant he never performed it with The Beatles in concert in front of an audience- that they just recorded it in the studio and that was it.

I do not know if it is true that The Beatles never performed it in concert, but I think the other explanation- that Ringo forgot The Beatles recorded it- is less likely.

You may be right about that. I will ask him about it the next time I see him.

Dude’s 73 years old. His memory might be at fault.

Better ask him soon.

I think so. The way I heard it, Ringo said he sang “Boys” with Rory Storm first and then brought it with him to The Beatles.

As for bienville’s speculation, Ringo sang “Boys” many, many times during The Beatles’ live performances…going back when he first took over for Pete Best (who had previously sung the song himself) in August 1962 and continuing throughout their 1963 and 1964 concert appearances.

OK, I went back and watched the recording of Sunday night’s show. Ringo’s exact words were:

“Here’s a little number I did with Rory and then with The Beatles, and I’m still doing it…it’s called ‘Boys.’”

I knew someone here would be able to verify/debunk this. Thanks for chiming in.

A DVR is a wonderful thing. Thank you for fighting my ignorance…

Never quite got why Ringo was singing so enthusiastically about boys, though.

Maybe the same reason he was macking on 16-year-old girls in the 70s.

But he was singing to the girls. To get them thinking about boys. Little drummer boys in particular, I suspect.

Perhaps you know this already, but for those who don’t, The Beatles’ version of “Boys” was a cover of a song originally sung by a girl group, The Shirelles.

Doubtless the song was seen by The Beatles (and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes before them) as just a good rockin’ number that makes a general statement, as opposed to being sung to members of either sex.

The Beatles covered several other girl group songs:

“Please Mr. Postman” – The Marvelettes
“Devil in Her (His) Heart” – The Donays
“Chains” –The Cookies
“Baby It’s You” – The Shirelles again

Yes, but the rest of those songs (like many love songs) are not really sex-specific. They make sense (maybe with minor pronoun changes) both when sung by a woman about a man or men, or by a man about a woman or women. “Boys” is not like that at all. In fact, sung by a man, it comes across as distinctly, even flamboyantly, gay.

This, of course, makes Ringo the pioneer of gender bending in rock,:slight_smile: long before the likes of David Bowie and Alice Cooper made it a big thing. (In between, The Who had done “I’m a Boy” and The Kinks had done “Lola”, but neither of those songs had the singer really “owning” a gay identity, the way that Ringo did with “Boys”.)

If only it were a better song, Ringo (who, AFAIK is entirely straight) might have become a gay rights icon!

Nonsense. Not a soul who was around in 1963-64 on either side of the Atlantic gave this interpretation a thought…it’s imposed entirely in retrospect — rather like those who seem to want very badly to make “Jailhouse Rock” a gay song because they can’t grasp the notion of a county jail that might house both male and female prisoners.

The same “pronoun changes” you speak of were made in “Boys,” too: “My girl says when I kiss her lips…” How does this line in Ringo’s version square with your gay interpretation?

And just for the record


Nonetheless, I still think it was an odd choice. Why not change the name to “girls” – or just pick a different song? If it weren’t for the actual chronology, I’d have guessed Brian Epstein would have had a hand in this.

You’re going for a joke?

The Beatles were a cover band - like most Liverpool bands back then. They played whatever rock, pop, British show tunes or whatever they could to, as they were instructed in Hamburg, “mak show” - entertain the paying customers. You change some bits where you can, but you can’t lose the essential nature of the song - and it is a song called Boys. Ringo rocks it.

My cover-band girl singer sang a bunch of men’s songs - it just happens. I sing The Pretenders’ Middle of the Road - including the last line of the last verse “I’m not the kind I used to be - I’ve got a kid, I’m thirty-three, baby!” Trust me - I’m not close to 33 anymore, either :wink:

No, I wasn’t going for a joke when I said I found it an odd choice by them (I was being silly when I mentioned Epstein).

I am aware as you are of the cultural context. It still feels just slightly strange to me. I know that’s MY issue – obviously, it WASN’T strange to them. Maybe my puzzlement is partly because of the INTERNAL inconsistency of changing some words for gender purposes, even in a song title (“Devil…”), but not this one.

Yep - I hear you.

Mark Lewisohn’s (outstanding) book Tune In touches on this:

Ringo also sung it at least once as a duet with Priscilla White at a party.