The song was written by brothers Robert and Richard Sherman. It was first recorded by American singer Johnny Burnette, whose version reached number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 1960, and number 3 on the UK singles chart in 1961.
Starr’s recording featured Harry Nilsson and Paul McCartney on backing vocals, the latter imitating a kazoo.
Paul was good enough to write a song for Ringo, and we had two or three nights of wonderful recording when he and Linda came down.
In fact, the solo on ‘You’re Sixteen’, which sounds like a kazoo or something, was Paul singing very spontaneously as we played that track back, so he’s singing the solo on that.
wnew.com, 27 March 2012
‘You’re Sixteen’ was first released in November 1973 as the fifth song on Ringo.
It was issued as a single in the USA on 3 December 1973, and in the UK on 8 February 1974.
The single was a smash hit, topping the US Billboard and Cash Box charts, and in New Zealand. It was a top 10 hit in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, and the UK, where it peaked at number four.
In 1978 Starr appeared in Ringo a made-for-television comedy film directed by Jeff Margolis. Starr played both himself and Ongir Rrats, a fictionalised version of himself, in a modern-day retelling of Mark Twain’s The Prince And The Pauper.
The show, first broadcast in the USA on NBC on 26 April 1978, also starred Art Carney, John Ritter, Vincent Price, Carrie Fisher, and George Harrison.
During the show, Carrie Fisher, playing Rrats’s girlfriend Marquine, appeared in a sequence soundtracked by ‘You’re Sixteen’.
Carrie Fisher was a big fan of Ringo’s and she couldn’t wait to do it. Everybody came prepared and everybody worked really hard, especially Ringo. Everything was memorized – there were no cue cards. We shot it like a movie; I really wanted it to have that feel, so I only used two camera and sometimes only one camera. It was very different, for that time, for shooting a television special outside a studio.
Ringo: With A Little Help, Michael Seth Starr