Pop & Hiss

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Ringo diss was just a joke, Simon Cowell says

September 15, 2009 |  1:35 pm


“American Idol” judge Simon Cowell has been the one stung by criticism from Beatles fans since remarking on CBS' "The Early Show" last week that were the group to come before him in a talent competition, “We would have said, ‘We'll take those three [John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison] but probably lose the drummer.’ Ringo, I'm afraid we would have said, is ‘bad news’.”

“I said it as a joke,” Cowell told The Times over the weekend. “It was a tongue-in-cheek interview. But the sensitivity surrounding the group shows how much the public still loves them. You make a joke about them and people get really upset.”

Cowell, for the record, was a die-hard Beatles fan growing up in England. 

“'She Loves You' was the first record I ever bought,” he said. He hasn’t, however, rushed out to get copies of the sonically upgraded Beatles CDs released last week. “I never saw them, but I bought most of their records…..They always sounded perfect to me, so I haven’t gotten caught up in having to hear the new ones.”

And what would Cowell, one of today’s key arbiters of what works and what doesn’t in pop music, have counseled a group that offered up a single that runs more than seven  minutes, a ballad in which the refrain is sung 19 times during the final four minutes, as the Beatles did in “Hey Jude”?

“They wouldn’t hear a peep from me,” he said. “The one group worldwide I always wish I had signed was the Beatles.”

-- Randy Lewis

Photos: Ringo Starr, left, and Simon Cowell, right. Credit: Associated Press