Friday, April 9, 2021

A homoerotic ode to Ringo Starr?


The first single released by Cher, hailed as the "Goddess of Pop" at the pinnacle of her career, was a miserable flop, reportedly because radio DJs thought she was a male crooning a homoerotic love song to Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

With producer Phil Spector at the helm, Cher, under the pseudonym Bonnie Jo Mason, recorded “Ringo, I Love You” in 1964 as a promotional release on the Annette Records label. Backed on the B-side by the instrumental track, “Beatle Blues,” the 45 RPM record sank like a stone following its release. The song received little local airplay though it reportedly was a minor hit in Buffalo, NY. Why Buffalo? No one seems to know.

Cher’s budding relationship with Sonny Bono, whom she met at age 16 in November 1962 -- accepting a job offer as his housekeeper -- led to her meeting Spector, who was Bono’s employer. Spector used Cher as a backup singer on a number of recordings, including “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, “Da Do Ron Ron” by The Crystals and “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes. Cher and Bono conducted an unofficial wedding ceremony in a hotel room in Tijuana, Mexico, on Oct. 27, 1964, marrying for real in 1969 but divorcing in 1975.

Cher recorded under the name Bonnie Jo Mason, reportedly because Spector only wanted artists with American-sounding names. Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian but legally became Cheryl LaPiere when she was adopted by one of her mother’s later husbands, Gilbert LaPiere.

Cher's deep contralto vocals, legend has it, led many radio station programmers to reject the song because they thought the singer was a man, ergo, a male homosexual was singing of his love for Starr. This erroneous belief came about despite a female name on the record label and the singer identifying as a girl in the lyrics.

The song is a bit of pop fluff, running only one minute and 50 seconds in length, with a somewhat crude “beat” sound rather than Spector’s normal Wall of Sound production style. The lyrics are simplistic, aping lines from well-known early Beatles hits. The lyric “Ringo, I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah” is similar to lyrics in the chorus of “She Loves You.” Later in the song, Cher sings, “Please let me hold your hand,” a shoutout to  “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” For a tutorial on how to perform the song, watch this.

The song was written by Vini Poncia and Pete Anders -- Spector was also given songwriting credit -- who were members of The Trade Winds pop band. Poncia later hooked up with Starr as a co-writer when the former Beatle recorded as a solo artist. "Devil Woman" and "Oh, My My" from the 1973 album Ringo were both Starr/Poncia collaborations. Poncia appeared on several of Starr’s solo albums. Poncia also produced two albums for the makeup-wearing rockers in Kiss.

Cher would later use the pseudonym Bonnie Jo Mason when she recorded vocals for the Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Spammers will not be tolerated. You casino scammers will be reported immediately and your comments deleted.