Ringo Starr confirms George Harrison features on new Beatles song, adds that they would “never” recreate John Lennon’s voice using AI

Ringo Starr playing Ludwig drum kit in Paris, 2018
(Image credit: David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns)

Ringo Starr has weighed in on the idea that the surviving members of The Beatles used AI to digitally recreate John Lennon’s voice for a forthcoming ‘new’ Beatles song, as well as confirming that the track features all four members of The Beatles. 

Speaking in an interview with People, Ringo says of the vocal track, "This is absolutely John Lennon's voice, taken off — as neat as we can — a cassette. And that's all I can tell you!”

The Beatles drummer reiterates his point again on an upcoming episode of the Rolling Stone Music Now Podcast, saying that The Beatles would “never” fake John Lennon’s voice using AI. 

He also goes on to confirm that along with Lennon’s vocals, the song features all four Beatles, including George Harrison, “This was beautiful" says Ringo, "and it’s the final track you’ll ever hear with the four lads. And that’s a fact.”.

The confusion surrounding the use of AI came recently when Paul McCartney gave an interview to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in June, where he revealed that there was a new Beatles song in the works. 

As has been widely reported, Get Back producer Peter Jackson and his team including Giles Martin developed and used AI/machine-learning 'De-mix' technology during the making of the documentary in order to isolate instruments recorded on the same track.  

"When Peter Jackson did the film, where it was us making the Let It Be album, he was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette and a piano. He could separate them with AI. 

"He’d tell the machine ‘That’s a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar’".“So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on and we just finished it up. It will be released this year."

Macca later took to Twitter to clarify his quote, assuring fans that the new song will not feature any artificially-created Lennon vocals. 

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The ‘new’ song is believed to be Now and Then, which was demoed on a cassette tape by Lennon in 1979, and was one of three songs given to the surviving Beatles by Yoko Ono Lennon for 1994’s Anthology. Free as a Bird and Real Love were restored and completed by the remaining members, however Now and Then was left off the collection.

Paul McCartney told Q magazine in 1997 that the song’s exclusion from Anthology was due to George Harrison’s dislike of the tune, calling it “Fucking rubbish”. 

“It didn’t have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking, but it had a beautiful verse and it had John singing it,” McCartney said. “George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”

However, it is believed that overdub sessions took place with Jeff Lynne during the making of Anthology, meaning that Ringo’s statement about all four members featuring on the new song adds further weight to it being Now and Then.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.