The song was written for and sung by the Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr as the character “Billy Shears”. The song was reissued as a single – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / With A Little Help From My Friends with B-Side A Day In The Life in the U.S. August 1978 and in the U.K. September 1978.
Lennon and McCartney finished writing this song in mid-March 1967, written specifically as Starr’s track for the album. McCartney said: “It was pretty much co-written, John and I doing a work song for Ringo, a little craft job.” In 1970 Lennon stated: “Paul had the line about ‘a little help from my friends.’ He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea.”, but in 1980 Lennon said: “This is Paul, with a little help from me. ‘What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine…’ is mine.”
It was briefly called “Bad Finger Boogie” (later the inspiration for the band name Badfinger) supposedly because Lennon composed the melody on a piano using his middle finger after having hurt his forefinger.
Joe Cocker’s version
English singer Joe Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help from My Friends” was a radical re-arrangement of the original, in a slower, 6/8 meter, using different chords in the middle eight, and a lengthy instrumental introduction (featuring drums by Procol Harum’s B.J. Wilson, guitar lines from Jimmy Page, and organ by Tommy Eyre).
Cocker performed the song at Woodstock in 1969 and that performance was included in the documentary film, Woodstock. This version was used as the opening theme song for the television series The Wonder Years. Cocker’s cover was ranked number two in UpVenue’s top 10 best music covers of all time in 2009. (source Wikipedia)