A Ringo Starr #1 hit inspired Billy Ocean to Write His Own # 1 Hit

Billy Ocean first appeared in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976 with the single “Love Really Hurts Without You”. More than eight years later he reappeared in the Top 40 with the international smash hit “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)”, which topped the charts for the first two weeks of November 1984. His first number one was immediately followed by two other hits, “Loverboy”, which spent two weeks in the number two position in February 1985, and the next single off of Ocean’s 1984 album Suddenly, the title track “Suddenly”, reached number four in June 1985.

Late in 1985, Ocean released his next big hit, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going”, which reached the number two position for one week in February 1986. It was the theme song for the movie The Jewel of the Nile, starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. 1986 saw Ocean score his second number one hit with “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)”, reaching the top slot for one week on July 5, 1986.

When writing the lyrics to his third number one hit, “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”, Ocean was inspired by Ringo Starr’s version of “You’re Sixteen”, the Johnny Burnette classic that the ex-Beatle took to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in January 1974. It was Starr’s second number one hit off of the Ringo album, with “Photograph”, the Starr-Harrison composition, being the first when it topped the charts for one week in late November 1973. The famous 1973 Ringo album, which featured extensive collaborations encompassing all four ex-Beatles, also placed the single “Oh My My” at the number five position in the Top 40.

“You’re Sixteen” was written by the songwriting duo of brothers Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman in 1959. The famous 1960 rendition by Johnny Burnette, which became his signature song, reached number eight on the U.S. charts and number three on the UK charts; thirteen years later Burnette’s version was prominently featured in the 1973 box office smash American Graffiti.

The original lyrics by the Sherman brothers, as were used in the famous Johnny Burnette version, contain the line “You walked out of my dreams and into my arms”. In his 1974 chart-topping version of the song, Ringo improvised and replaced the word “dreams” with “car”. The ex-Beatle sang “You walked out of my dreams and into my car”.

Billy Ocean liked Ringo’s inventive change of lyrics in “You’re Sixteen”, and credits the mere line for inspiring him to write his 1988 smash number one hit “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”. The song entered the Top 40 on February 20, 1988 and stayed in the Top 40 for 14 weeks. It topped the charts for two weeks, beginning on April 9, 1988, and proved to be the last hit song for the Trinidadian-born singer/songwriter who was raised mostly in Great Britain. Fred Bronson’s Billboard’s Book of Number One Hits cites an interesting fact: All three of Billy Ocean’s number one hits have eight words in the title – “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)”, “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)”, and “Get Out of My Dreams, Get into My Car”.

Of course, as is well known, Ringo’s two number one hits off of the 1973 Ringo album, “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen”, were eye-opening in that Ringo scored two number one hits before John Lennon had his first solo number one hit. Many find it hard to believe that the classic “Imagine” did not top the charts in either the U.S. or the UK, but it was actually “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” that was Lennon’s first number one hit in November 1974. Some claim that it bothered Lennon that he was the last ex-Beatle to have a solo number one hit. Ironically, George Harrison was both the first and last ex-Beatle to have a number one hit, with “My Sweet Lord” in 1971 and “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” in 1988. Both Ringo’s “You’re Sixteen” and George’s “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” represent the only two instances in which a solo Beatle had a number hit with a song they did not write or co-write.