Ringo Starr is setting the record straight about “Now and Then,” the final song to feature all members of The Fab Four.
In a December 2023/January 2024 cover story for AARP, the legendary rocker, 83, took a moment to address the “terrible rumors” that he and Paul McCartney used artificial intelligence, instead of an archival recording of John Lennon’s, voice on the recent Beatles single “Now and Then.” Starr not only insisted that they used audio of the late musician’s vocals and piano playing, but that he and the vocalist/bassist, 81, wouldn’t have done the song otherwise.
“There were terrible rumors that it’s not John, it’s AI, whatever bulls--- people said,” the Beatles drummer said in the interview published Tuesday. “Paul and I would not have done that.”
The “Yellow Submarine” singer also succinctly explained how he and McCartney worked together to finish the track. He said, “Last year, Paul called and said, ‘You remember that unfinished song of John’s, "Now and Then?" Why don’t we work on that?’ He sent it to me, and I played the drums and sang.”
“We had a great track of John singing and playing piano and George playing rhythm guitar,” he continued, referring to how the song originated from one of Lennon’s recordings in the ‘70s and how the late George Harrison appeared on the record when the group first tried to finish it in the ‘90s.
He added, “It’s a beautiful song and a nice way to finally close that door.”
When McCartney first teased “Now and Then” back in June in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Best of Today, he explained that the bandmates used technology filmmaker Peter Jackson developed while working on the 2021 docuseries Get Back, helping to isolate and de-mix old audio.
The “Hey Jude” singer emphasized shortly after that Jackson’s technology was all they used. At the time, in a post on X he wrote, “We’ve seen some confusion and speculation about it. Seems to be a lot of guess work out there. Can’t say too much at this stage but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created."
Starr’s comments in AARP aren’t the first time he’s clarified how the two rock stars unearthed and finished the track either. In July, he spoke to PEOPLE about their process.
"This is absolutely John Lennon's voice, taken off, as neat as we can, a cassette. And that's all I can tell you!" he shared at the time.
Starr also reflected on the first time that the band tried to refurbish the track when they were working on finishing songs like “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” with Electric Light Orchestra rocker/producer Jeff Lynne.
"We did that in the '90s, George, Paul and I, with the help of Jeff Lynne, who took John's voice off a cassette," he said. "Whichever way he did that, I don't know. Jeff is very… [he] dials in. And he had that job, and he was producing. When we did those two tracks, then we got to the third one, we felt we'd done enough, and we worked on it for 10 minutes."
“Now and Then” arrived on Nov. 2, along with the Oliver Murrary-directed short film The Last Beatles Song, documenting the rock icons’ journey getting back in the studio to complete the track.