Lorne Greene & The Beatles’ Invasion
(And a Frank Gallop bonus)
At any rate – Canadian one-time DJ and announcer Lorne Green found his way into the Big Time via a guest appearance on the TV series “Wagon Train”. This led to his heading up the cast for the sensation hit TV Series “Bonanza” in 1959. In 1964 Lorne Green was encouraged to record a second long play record which he did (he was involved in a couple of earlier projects with the other cast members releasing a “Bonanza” LP in 1962 and then in 1963 a Christmas long play.
The album contained a track “Ringo” which was originally a six-stanza poem – not a song or envisioned for a single – but Greene – after reading it thought it should be included on the album. A Texas DJ began playing “Ringo” on the radio and the requests came pouring in. RCA promptly begin filling orders as fast as they could with a single. This was not Lorne’s first single release as he had two prior releases which went nowhere. But Ringo soared to the top of the Billboard Charts for a nice one-week perch at the top knocking the Shangra Las “Leader of the Pack” out of the top spot after a single week reign.
Wikipedia: “October 1964, Ringo Starr’s popularity in the Beatles prompted “Ringo” to be released as a single, even though it was never about him. The album’s introductions were left off of the single release. “Ringo” debuted in Billboard in October 1964. By the same time, a special promotional recording by Greene (possibly Canadian only) was sent to radio stations to promote the album, where he speaks about seven of the album’s tracks. “Ringo” was the lead track. On it, he talks about the probable confusion between his song character and the Beatles and the “wonderful drummer of theirs”, assuring the listener that it is not about him.”
Back in late 1964 I wondered it this record would have seen the light of day – let along go to number 1 in the U.S. without the Beatles tie-in.
His follow-up release in January of 1965 was “The Man” which managed a meager #72 showing and disappeared after three weeks. I liked “The Man” better than “Ringo”. “Ringo” was just one of those novelty songs that, after two or three plays, just wasn’t a mystery as to how the big showdown would turn out. I also liked Frank Gallop’s 1966 parody of “Ringo” – “The Ballad of Irving”:
Greene’s only other ripple was a “Bubbling Under” appearance in 1966 with “Five Card Stud” reaching number 112 and hanging around for five weeks before disappearing forever. That was it for Lorne’s days of fame on vinyl, even though he would go on to release more than a dozen albums. Just before staring in a movie version of “Bonanza” in 1987 Lorne Greene passed away due to respiratory problems. He was 72 years-old.
I have pondered Ringo’s appearance on this Apple release “It Don’t Come Easy” in 1971 (#4 on charts), as his attempt to actually become the dreaded “Ringo” of Greene’s earlier tale. Seems to make sense.
The Ballad Of Irving
“A hundred and forty-one could draw faster than he
But Irving was looking for one forty-three
Walked into Sol’s Saloon like a man insane
And ordered three fingers of two cents plain”
The novelty would reach number 34 in 1966. Years earlier he scored a minor hit with “Got a Match” reaching number 57 in 1958. Gallop gave it the old college try with an “Irving” follow up – but no dice. Gallop started off on TV with Milton Berle and then became the behind the scenes deep voice for Perry Como on his weekly television show. Frank Gallup passed away in 1988 at age 87.