HE’S STILL A STARR
WHEN you hear the idiosyncratic Liverpudlian accent of Ringo Starr deliver his signature “peace and love” greeting, you instantly understand why millions of hysterical fans screamed their lungs out five decades ago.
It is impossible to divorce the world’s most famous drummer from The Beatles in your mind.
Love or hate his singing voice, his lead vocals on songs including With A Little Help From My Friends, Yellow Submarine, Good Night and Octopus’s Garden made them indelible hits in the Fab Four’s canon.
While Ringo has issued a vast body of solo work since the band that changed the world parted ways in 1970, it appears music media remain as obsessed with The Beatles as ever. On his first day of spruiking his 19th solo album Give More Love at the luxury Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles, Starr fielded more questions from the British media about his previous life in the world’s most popular band.
So his reps gently suggest subsequent interviews focus on the new record rather than what he did five decades ago.
It is a reasonable request considering Starr and his good mate Paul McCartney did a lot of talking about that iconic band on the 50th anniversary of the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record just weeks ago.
And there is plenty to talk about with Give More Love, starting with the muse behind any love song he writes, his wife of 37 years Barbara Bach. Rock ballad Show Me The Way, written with his mate Steve Luthaker of Toto, was inspired by their enduring love affair.
“I am a hopeful romantic; I believe in peace and love. I got a lot of help from Barbara on Show Me The Way,” he says. “I have loved her since 1980. We’ve wiped each other’s tears and we still have bad days but there is always love.”
Starr had planned to have last year off. But when some of your best mates are musicians and you find yourself hanging out in the vicinity of instruments, making music is inevitable.
Eurythmics legend Dave Stewart, an artistic alchemist who will work with anyone from his Beatles bud to Australian rocker Jon Stevens, had planted the seed of heading to Nashville to make a country record.
So the pair decided to pen some country-influenced tunes in advance of their trip but it was put on hold when Starr was offered a summer tour with his All Starr Band.
The diehard road dog – his new album opens with the song We’re On The Road Again – kept touring throughout 2016, adding dates in Japan and Korea before winding up back in the US at the end of the year.
“So in January I decided to make an album here, like I made the last three, in my guesthouse,” he says.
“I have a lot of friends who are writers and they’ll come ’round for a cup of tea, we write a song and do a track.” Besides Stewart, his list of tea-sipping, quick composers on Give More Love include Richard Marx, Peter Frampton and Van Dyke Parks.
Starr refuses to contemplate retirement either from the studio or the road and has two months of touring with his band booked in the US before the end of the year.
Whether that will be extended to Australia is yet to be determined and Starr couldn’t say as his minders ushered him to the next chat.
“Sending you peace and love,” he says as the line cuts out.