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Recording: Whispering Grass, Bye Bye Blackbird by Ringo Starr

Morgan Studios, London
Producer: George Martin

This, the penultimate session for Ringo Starr’s debut solo album Sentimental Journey, saw two songs recorded: ‘Whispering Grass’ and ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’.

The session took place from 10am at Morgan Studios, where Paul McCartney had also been working on his McCartney album.

A 36-piece orchestra was used on both songs, conducted by the arranger of each song. Firstly, Ron Goodwin led the musicians through his version of ‘Whispering Grass’, which Starr had demoed on 9 February 1970.

Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees had arranged a new version of ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’. Gibb conducted the orchestra, after which Starr overdubbed his lead vocals. The day’s work was complete by 1pm.

Maurice came over one day, and I was playing him the tracks and asked if he would like to do one, because he’s the arranger for the Bee Gees, the others don’t really arrange much. Anyway, it just happened that, the night before, he had been to some pub where they had some traditional jazz band and so, if you listen to it, you can hear what he thought of the band. It’s got a plonkety-plonk banjo. The hard bit was trying to keep it to songs that mean something to me. You know, I’d say, ‘I’m going to do this,’ and you’d get people saying, ‘Why don’t you do ‘Button Up Your Over Coat’, and why don’t you do such and such, and I’d say, ‘Yes, it’s a lovely song. But for me, personally, it’s no memory lane.’
Ringo Starr

‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ was also recorded by Paul McCartney for his 2012 album Kisses On The Bottom.

Last updated: 3 August 2021
Mixing: For You Blue
UK single release: Let It Be
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