The Beatles legend was overwhelmed with emotion when producer Jack Douglas recently gave him a recording of 'Grow Old With Me' from his bandmate's 1980s 'Bermuda Tapes' demos and he realised the 'Imagine' singer - who was shot dead in 1980 - was thinking about him when he worked on the track.
Speaking to Dave Grohl in conversation for Rolling Stone magazine, Ringo said: "The interesting thing is this guy Jack Douglas, the producer, brought this track of John's to me just this year; I'd never heard it. So he's still in my life. And so it's on the new album.
"But why he gave me this CD is [because] at the beginning, John says, 'Oh, that would be great for Richard Starkey.'
"I well up every time I think [about it] -- he's talking about me. He says, 'Hey, Ringo, this'd be great for you.' And I can't help myself.
"I'm emotional now thinking of him 40 years ago talking about me on his tape and thinking of me. The four of us were great friends with a couple of side issues. And it was far out."
The 79-year-old star admitted he still feels emotional about the circumstances surrounding John's death and the surreal aftermath.
He said: "When John went, I was in the Bahamas. I was getting a phone call from my stepkids in LA saying, 'Something's happened to John.' And then they called and said, 'John's dead.' And I didn't know what to do.
"And I still well up that some b*****d shot him. But I just said, 'We've got to get a plane.'
"We got a plane to New York, and you don't know what you can do. We went to the apartment. 'Anything we can do?' And Yoko just said, 'Well, you just play with Sean. Keep Sean busy.' And that's what we did. That's what you think, 'What do you do now?'...
"So anyway, I didn't know how to act. And then I got back to LA, and I grieved, and then of course you always go through the grief."
Ringo admitted he has become an "old crybaby" as he also grew tearful when recounting to Dave his last meeting with fellow Beatle George Harrison, who died of cancer aged 58 in 2001.
He added: "And George, the same... I'm such an old crybaby. He's laying there very ill -- not long.
"And I've got to go to Boston, 'cause my daughter's having an operation. And so I said, 'Well, you know, I've got to go, George,' and he says, 'Do you want me to come with you?' You know, he's dying in a bit, 'Do you want me to come with you?' How many people say great things like that to you, really give themselves?
Ringo enlisted fourth Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, to perform on the version of 'Grow Old With Me' that appears on his new album 'What's My Name' and thinks it was a fitting tribute to their legacy.
He said: "Paul's been on five or six of my CDs. If he's in town, he comes and plays, 'cause he plays great. And I thought his playing would add to the emotion of this song. So the interesting point is that Jack Douglas wanted to put an orchestra on it. And I said, 'No, quartet'll be plenty.'
"So John wrote it, Paul's on it, I'm on it, and Jack puts in a very recognisable George Harrison riff."