Ringo Starr’s fifth solo album, Ringo’s Rotogravure, was recorded and released in 1976, and featured involvement from all four former Beatles.

The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles. In addition to the 11 songs, outtakes included ‘Where Are You Going’, ‘All Right’, ‘Party’, and ‘It’s Hard To Be Lovers’.

Starr had originally wanted Richard Perry to once again produce him, but decided instead to ring the changes and enlisted Arif Mardin.

A variety of guest musicians appeared on the album, including Harry Nilsson, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Klaus Voormann, and Dr John.

John Lennon wrote ‘Cookin’ (In The Kitchen Of Love)’, and performed piano on the recording. The recording took place at Cherokee on 12 June 1976, Lennon’s final studio session until August 1980.

Paul and Linda McCartney recorded the backing track of ‘Pure Gold’ on a break from the Wings Over America tour. Starr sang over the track on 19 June 1976.

George Harrison was busy completing his Thirty Three & ⅓ album, so was unable to attend Starr’s sessions. He did, however, contribute the song ‘I’ll Still Love You’ (originally titled ‘When Every Song Is Sung’), which he had previously attempted to record on separate occasions with Ronnie Spector, Cilla Black, and Mary McCreary.

Well, Paul asked to write a song. I asked John and he worked on it and worked on it and eventually he came up with ‘You Got Me Cooking’ [sic]. You know he’s really into that now – cooking! I also asked George to write one, but there was an old one of his that was never released by anybody that I always loved. I was on the session when it was recorded so, in the end, I asked him if instead of writing one, could I have that old one? He said fine; it saved him a job. It’s called ‘I Still Love You’, a big ballady thing.
Ringo Starr

Harrison was reportedly dissatisfied with Starr’s version of ‘I’ll Still Love You’, and took legal action against him. The move was settled out of court later in 1976.

The title

Rotogravure, or gravure, is a printing process in which an image is cut into a surface and the recessed areas hold the ink, which is then transferred from the engraved plates or cylinders onto paper or card.

Gravure was once used widely for printing newspapers, magazines, postcards, and other commercial products. Publication presses typically ran at 45 feet per second, with a separate cylinder required for each colour.

Cover artwork

The cover design and art direction for Ringo’s Rotogravure was by John Kosh, who had previously filled the same role on Beaucoups Of Blues, and later did the same on Ringo The 4th, Bad Boy, and Stop And Smell The Roses.

The from cover photography was taken by David Alexander at his studio at Hollywood & Vine. Starr found a cheap magnifying glass in a drawer while Alexander was adjusting the lighting, which led to the cover image.

Starr’s portrait was shot with a Hasselblad camera using fine grain, Ilford FP3 film. Ron Larson enhanced the print by colouring Starr’s eyes.

The back cover featured a photograph by Tommy Hanley of the Apple offices at 3 Savile Row, London. The door was covered with graffiti by Beatles fans.

Inner sleeve and gatefold photography was by Mark Hanauer and David Alexander.

The release

Ringo’s Rotogravure was released on 17 September 1976 in the UK, and ten days later in the USA. Initial copies came with a free magnifying glass.

Starr promoted the album with interviews conducted in Denmark, France, and Italy.

The album was not a commercial success, and peaked at number 28 on the US Billboard 200. It failed to chart in the UK, but reached 19 in Australia, and 35 in Canada.

‘A Dose Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ had been released ahead of the album in the US single on 20 September 1976, with ‘Cryin” on the b-side. It peaked at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was issued in the UK on 15 October but failed to chart.

The second single, Starr’s cover of Bruce Channel’s ‘Hey! Baby’, had ‘Lady Gaye’ on the b-side. It was released on 22 November in the US, where it reached number 74 on the chart, and on 26 November in the UK.

Another single, containing the songs ‘Las Brisas’ and ‘Cryin”, was released in Mexico.

Ringo’s Rotogravure was first released on compact disc in the USA on 16 August 1992, along with its follow-up, Ringo The 4th.

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