Christian van hemert

Ringo Starr hasn’t stopped making music

The slowness of the US immigration bureaucracy may have changed rock and roll history. When Ringo Starr was 18, still under his first name Richard Starkey and working in a factory in the UK, he and a friend decided to move to the US to be closer to the blues and country musicians they revered. They focused on Houston when they learned it was the home of the great blues Lightnin ‘Hopkins.

“I figured there was a factory there where I could work too,” Starr says. They went to the US consulate and filled out visa forms. But when they came back, eager to collect their papers and cross the pond, “they gave us more forms,” ​​Mr. Starr recalls. “I don’t know if you’ve ever turned 18, but that’s not the right thing for teenagers to do!” We went, ‘No more forms ?! Rats.’ And we tore them up and walked on.

Soon after, Mr. Starr joined the popular group Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. “And from there, things were going well,” he says. At 20, the group obtained a three-month concert, which allowed them to leave the factory. Two years later, he joined the Beatles, starting a career that would change the world. “Who knew?” Mr. Starr said with a wry smile on Zoom from his home studio in Los Angeles. “That’s life and sliding doors isn’t it?” You make that choice or that choice… you turn left or right. It’s so random.

Ringo Starr at the Beatles’ first American concert, February 11, 1964.


Mike Mitchell / Christie’s / ASSOCIATED PRESS

What was not random was what happened to The Beatles after Mr. Starr arrived on August 18, 1962 – they got a lot better. “From that point on, it froze,” guitarist George Harrison said in 1998. “The Beatles took it to a different level.”

Mr. Starr’s membership marked the beginning of The Beatles as we know them. Now the end of the band is seen in a new light, with the release of a new special edition of their latest album, “Let It Be”, featuring rehearsals, previews and alternate versions. The edition, available on LPs, CDs, download and streaming, also includes a new book, “The Beatles: Get Back”, the accompanying volume for a new six-hour documentary series directed by Peter Jackson,

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The series, which premieres November 25 on Disney +, includes footage filmed for the 1970 documentary “Let It Be,” which was released shortly after the album. The film depicted a band breaking up, only bringing them together for a rooftop performance which was their last live appearance. The new series paints a bigger picture, with the Fab Four laughing, collaborating and functioning as a unit. Mr. Starr says he’s thrilled the public is seeing this prospect.

“I never liked the first one,” he says. “It’s two hours of misery with no sign of joy, [except] the images of the roof. Then we found 56 hours of unused material – 56 hours! – which Peter combed through. He found a lot of great images that had to be seen for people to understand what we really looked like. As Mr. Starr remembers, “No matter what the mood, if you were doing a count, no one would let you down.” We were there to the best of our ability. I love this memory. It was psychic; I would play outside and we are all in sync. Paul is falling back and John catches the beat and George is right. We knew each other very, very well. “

Mr. Starr attributes the productivity of The Beatles – they’ve recorded 13 albums in seven years – to the fact that “Paul is a workaholic. The other three of us liked to sit in the garden and have a puff. But Mr. Starr, 81, has certainly remained constantly active since forming his All-Starr Band in 1989. During the pandemic, he recorded two EPs: “Zoom In”, released in March, and “Change The World”. , released last month.

He calls the ability to write, record, and release music while being largely homebound “a blessing.” These nine tracks are joyful expressions of optimism. They were largely recorded in his home studio, where he worked with collaborators including Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Eric Clapton bassist Nathan East, Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. , Mr. Starr’s brother-in-law. Most of the others who have performed on the EPs, including Paul McCartney, recorded their tracks remotely.

“We send files back and forth and that’s the way we work these days, because not many of us really want to spend time together,” says Starr. “We’re all pretty cautious. We’ve had the jabs, and I don’t go out much. Since June, I have been out of the house once. We have been very serious about the pandemic. “

Mr. Starr formed the All-Starr Band shortly after coming out of rehab with a serious drinking problem. By this time he had only played a handful of unique performances since the Beatles’ last tour in 1966, most notably George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh” in 1971 and the band’s farewell show in 1976. ” The last Waltz “. He has since made up for lost time, touring regularly with a rotating group of musicians. There have been nearly 50 All Stars, including the band’s Levon Helm and Rick Danko, E Street Band members Bruce Springsteen, Nils Lofgren and Clarence Clemons, and great pianist Dr. John.

Many fans see Mr. Starr as an inspiration as much for his sobriety as for his music.

Many fans consider Mr. Starr to be as much an inspiration for his sobriety as for his music, an idea he rejects. “I am just a man who has not drunk for thirty years, who had drunk a lot before that and who became very informed, more informed [about sobriety] than playing or whatever, ”he says.

The pandemic has forced tours to be canceled, and Mr Starr says he can’t wait to get back on the road. He is in good physical shape and radiates positive energy, constantly smiling and joking. His first words for this interview were, “How are the stocks and the actions of the Wall Street Journal?” He has a consistent yet simple health routine: “I get up in the morning, meditate, have a good breakfast, and usually go to the gym,” he says. “I have a trainer three times a week and I usually do something on my own a few times a week just to keep moving. Plus, I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t have to spend a year digesting beef. You don’t need a lot of food, just enough.

It is also based on his 40-year marriage to actress Barbara Bach, who accompanied him to rehab and is usually by his side. “We got married 40 years ago and we’re still here,” says Starr. “We still support each other and love each other. It’s cool.”

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