Ringo returns to Vegas for eight shows this month
Rfirst Vegas gig with his AllStarr Band was served along with dessert at the old Circus Maximus Showroom at Caesars Palace.
“We were playing, and it was like everyone in the crowd had just finished eating dinner or something,” Starr says, remembering an Aug.
30, 1989, performance at the classically appointed showroom that was home to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and several other Strip legends. “I remember them sitting in banquettes with these really high backs, around tables. It was a very unusual place for a rock band to be playing.”
Starr has played several Vegas venues over the years, including the old Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, the Rio Pavilion, Mandalay Bay Beach, Pearl at the Palms and Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center. He and the All-starr Band open an eight-show extended engagement Friday night at the Planet Hollywood Showroom.
Starr, remarkably fit at double-7s (77), chuckles at hearing that list. “The deal is, wherever we’ve played is good, because we’re there playing. It has to be good, right?” His current lineup has been together for five years: Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie of Santana and Journey, Steve Lukather of Toto, Richard Page of Mister Mister, Warren Ham of Olivia Newton-john’s band and Gregg Bissonette of Santana.
More from a post-rehearsal chat in Ringo’s dressing room:
I have to ask how it feels to be opening in Las Vegas when we have had this terrible shooting and upheaval in our city?
“I came in, actually, on October 2nd, the day after it happened. I could feel it. The vibe, understandably, was very low. It was dreadful, for all those lives that have been lost. What else can you say? It’s just unfathomable to me. I am just here to bring the mood up any way I can and don’t let it completely control our lives.”
You’ve obviously played many types of venues, and in the mid-60s, during Beatles tours, there were disturbing threats against the band. Have you ever felt unsafe onstage?
“No, I never have. When I’m onstage, I feel only peace and love.”
We talked, years ago, about your Vegas show being called the Golden Drums, after Elton John’s “Red Piano” playing at Caesars at the time.
“Yes! That was it, the Golden Drums, like Elton’s show, and it’s come up again and again. ”
Over the years, we’ve had many rock bands perform these extended engagements in Las Vegas. Did that trend encourage you to pursue your own residency here?
“Vegas is so great, and it’s hot for bands doing this right now. A lot of artists are doing this. Musically, Vegas is up. Attractive to the artists, I can play here Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and get to know what this city is like Tuesday. There are things going on Tuesday?”
Yes. Every night it’s something. You played the Smith Center on a Sunday night last year, I believe.
“So, yeah, every time I have ever been to Vegas — including in 1964 when we played here — I get off a plane and go right to the Strip. Every time. Then last year we go to the performing arts center, and that was even crazier. I had no idea how big Las Vegas was! There is a whole world happening out there in Vegas! No one told me this! It was far out. We had a great time.”
Is this engagement setting up another run in Las Vegas next year? And would the band be OK with returning?
“I can’t say right now because I don’t know. I’ve got 14 more dates on tour after these shows. But how it works is, I decide to play Las Vegas, and if the band can do it, they’ll do it. There are lots of people in the All-starrs, and lots of others who want to be in the All-starrs, so it’s not necessarily this band I’d be bringing if I did come back.”
You know, The Who played at Caesars, where Circus Maximus used to be.
“Ah! See? We created the vibe. We brought the rock and roll vibe to the Strip.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@ reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @ Johnnykats1 on Instagram.
Las Vegas Review-journal Ringo Starr and his wife, Barbara Bach, pose during a red carpet event July 14, 2016, at The Mirage to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE.