Ringo Starr enters the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, releases a new album and will publish PHOTOGRAPH – before coming to Montreal

Last fall marked the 50th anniversary of the one and only appearance by The Beatles in Montreal. Drummer Ringo (a nickname derived from his penchant for wearing multiple rings on each hand) Starr and bassist and Paul McCartney are the two surviving members of the rock ‘n’ roll band that turned the world on its ear during the 1960s. Ringo was overshadowed by the radiant brilliance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who each went on to solo careers after The Beatles. Even the gentle George Harrison had a successful career as a solo artist before succumbing to cancer in 2001. It’s perhaps ironic that at 74, Ringo Starr continues to tour the world with The All-Starr Band; which consistently attracts some of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll musicians and singers. Canadian rock guitarist Randy Bachman toured with the All-Starr Band for a year.

Ringo virtually disappeared into a vortex of drugs and alcohol after the breakup of The Beatles, but since 1989 he has returned to music in earnest. In a March 25 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, he stated; “It gets really lonely, you know,” he says. “It’s just really cold and lonely. It’s a miserable disease, in the end. There’s a crowd of you, and it’s lonely. Because that’s all you’re doing is getting f–ked, you know. But I haven’t been that lonely since.”

On April 18 of this year, fellow Beatle Paul McCartney will induct Ringo Starr into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in recognition of his solo career. It’s a tremendous recognition from his fellow musicians, including Bruce Springsteen – who nominated Ringo along with McCartney.

Born as Richard Starkey into a poor household in Liverpool, Ringo had poor health as a child that required extended hospitalizations. The first stay was for nearly a year following complications from an appendectomy. His overprotective mother allowed him to remain at home and not attend school following his first hospitalization. The result was that by age eight, young Richard was illiterate. He contacted tuberculosis and had a second even longer hospitalization of two years was for treatment of tuberculosis. His schooling was almost non-existent during these periods of recuperation. However, to encourage him to be active, he joined a kind of band while recovering from tuberculosis in the sanatorium. Grandparents gave him musical instruments; including a mandolin and harmonica – but Ringo’s focus had locked in on drumming.

He kept playing drums, but also completed an apprenticeship as a machinist. Ringo played with a group called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes that worked regularly and were very popular. They toured in Europe, including an extended gig at a club in Hamburg. The Hurricanes were the headliners, and a group called The Beatles was the opening act. Ringo filled in with The Beatles periodically if there drummer was ill.

As we all know, Ringo was invited to join The Beatles, and he became an integral part of what became the world’s greatest popular music band for most of the 1960s. Whether by design or co-incidence, Ringo usually sang lead vocal on one song per album, including Yellow Submarine, which became a huge hit for the band. The relentless pressures of Beatlemania took its toll, and by 1966 the group made the decision to stop touring. Said Ringo; “We were turning into such bad musicians … there was no groove to it. We gave up touring at the right time. Four years of Beatlemania were enough for anyone.”

The Beatles continued to record albums, but they were moving into musical areas that had less use for Ringo. Yoko Ono became an omnipresent factor, and Ringo in particular resented her interference. Relations between John, Paul, George and Ringo became increasingly fractious. Patch-ups proved to be fragile and temporary, with The Beatles finally breaking up in 1970. Each went on to a solo career, but none ever achieved the brilliance of their combined talents during the group’s heyday.

Ringo continued to record, with some success. But the drugs and alcohol abuse kept him from a sustained drive with his solo career. Still there were some very good records. During his down-time during recording sessions, Ringo learned to play guitar well enough to use the instrument to help him compose his own songs. He co-wrote It Don’t Come Easy and Photograph with George Harrison and both songs were hits in the US and the UK. His remake of You’re Sixteen also was a hit record on both sides of The Atlantic.

“Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met. Ringo was a professional drummer who sang and performed and was in one of the top groups in Britain, but especially in Liverpool. So Ringo’s talent would have come out one way or the other … Whether it’s acting, drumming, or singing, I don’t know. There’s something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced as an individual … Ringo is a damn good drummer”
– John Lennon; Rolling Stone September 1980

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr – still drumming at 74, and making contributions to his Lotus Foundation

In 1988, Ringo and his wife Barbara Bach entered a rehab centre in Arizona for a six-week detox program. In 1989 Ringo formed his first Ringo Starr All-Starr Band, and the group of invited high-calibre musicians. The format has proven to be popular for the musicians and the audiences. The first All-Starr Band released a live recording in 1990. Ringo is now touring with the 12th formation of the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band.

This fall, Ringo will re-issue PHOTOGRAPH, a collection of his photographs beginning with photos he took as a child. His behind-the-scenes photos of The Beatles are understandably the most popular. The book was originally published as a hardcover limited edition of 2,500 copies, and it sold out in weeks. The September 2015 release will be a less expensive printing, and therefore more widely accessible. Ringo is donating his royalties to the Lotus Foundation, founded by Ringo and his wife Barbara Bach to assist organizations working with a wide ranging clientele; including substance abuse, battered women and children, cerebral palsy, brain tumours, cancer and homelessness.

Postcards From Paradise is Ringo’s newest album, released at the end of March, just weeks before his induction into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame. The record was produced in his home studio in Los Angeles. The newest All-Starr Band members include: guitarist Steve Lukather from Toto; multi-instrumentalist songwriter and producer Todd Rundgren; Gregg Rolie – the original singer and co-founder of Santana; Mr. Mister lead singer and bassist Richard Page; vocalist and sax player Warren Ham; and drummer Gregg Bissonette. This group has been together for nearly three years, and has evolved into a cohesive musical unit. The shows end with what has become a signature tune for Ringo; With A Little Help From My Friends.

The Ringo Starr All-Starr Band will perform at Theatre St-Denis on October 21, 2015. For tickets, please contact www.theatrestdenis.com or call the St-Denis box office: 514-790-1111. Enjoy!