One of the 1970s stars who came closest to reaching Beatles heights was Elton John, and he worked with both Lennon and Starr in 1974. For Starr’s album Goodnight Vienna, Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin contributed “Snookeroo.”
John kicks things off with “Crocodile Rock”–style piano and Taupin sketches a song based on Starr’s upbringing in a working-class town in the North of England. It includes the same eye for detail that made John’s other working class portrait, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” stand out lyrically as well as musically. The Band’s Robbie Robertson delivers on guitar, tasty horns lean in, gospel-sounding ladies back the Ringed One at the mike, and it’s an anthem for poor Andy Capps-turned-millionaire-playboys everywhere. It made it to number three in the United States as a double Aside with “The No No Song.”
Snooker is a British version of pool with a bigger table and smaller pockets. Basically, Starr sings about being a lazy, no-good guy who hangs out playing pool and refuses to work normal hours while his dad gets drunk and his sister gets a reputation.
He sings that he needs a factory girl who will cook for him and turn him loose at night, which is what he had in Maureen, though she would be the last factory girl with whom he’d bunker down. Technically, she wasn’t a factory girl; rather, she left school at fourteen to become a hairdresser trainee. Before Starr knew this drummer thing was going to sustain, his plan had always been to get his own hair salon, so they must’ve bonded over hair. Maureen was born in 1946 and a regular at the Cavern Club at age fifteen. Starr married her in February 1965 after she became pregnant with the first of their three children.
The lyrics talk about how the family’s four-room house is condemned. In 2005, the Liverpool City Council decided they would knock down Starr’s birth home at 9 Madryn Street—but after an outcry, it announced the building would be taken apart brick by brick and preserved elsewhere.