A lost George Harrison song from 1970, appealing for The Beatles to play together once again, has been discovered by his widow Olivia, stored inside his piano bench.
Handwritten lyrics for the song, Hey Ringo, in which George says his guitar-playing is incomplete without his friend’s beat, had been left untouched for decades inside the stool at the couple’s Oxfordshire home.
After discovering the “time capsule”, Mrs Harrison has presented the lyrics to Ringo Starr. It is hoped that the Beatles’ drummer might turn the lyrics into a song. George, the “quiet one” who died in 2001, may even have recorded some music for the track on a home cassette, she believes.
An imagined conversation between George and Ringo, the lyric begins: “Hey Ringo, now I want you to know, that without you my guitar plays far too slow.” Harrison goes on to tell his musical soulmate “I’ve heard no drummer who can play it quite like you.”
The song was apparently written in the aftermath of the Beatles’ painful split, which was confirmed to the world by Paul McCartney in April 1970.
The lyrics will be reproduced in I Me Mine, an updated illustrated Harrison biography featuring family photographs, hand-written songwords and unpublished interview transcripts with the songwriter.
Mrs Harrison told the i: “There was a folder in George’s piano bench and inside I found a typed lyric for Hey Ringo. It think it dates from around 1970. It was the stool Billy Preston (Beatles organist) used to leap about on when he played with George.
“George would put down a notebook and forget where he left it and that’s probably what happened with Hey Ringo. A piano bench was the obvious place to stash the night’s debris.”
Olivia gave a copy of the lyrics, which she discovered last year, to a surprised Starr at a Los Angeles party commemorating Harrison’s 74th birthday in February. She said: “He’d never seen this song before. He said ‘What is this?’ He was so surprised.”
Olivia, 69, had been seeking unpublished material for I Me Mine. “When George was writing he would leave notebooks in a desk drawer, or a cupboard or a kitchen drawer. He had a lot of piano benches. He would put a notebook down and never pick it up again so a song might be forgotten.” She added: “I did have a reluctance to disturb these little time capsules. You don’t want to decant someone’s life.”
There could be more undiscovered Harrison music. “There are a lot of unfinished songs but some of them are just not finished enough to release. There’s lots of little notes and thoughts too,” said Olivia. “He wrote some wonderful songs that maybe weren’t recognised that people can still discover.”