New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 15, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
moan a a6 g Herald-Zeitung g Thursday, May 15,1997
...................traitionsPOP TALK: Ringo Starr
By George Varga Coplev News Service
At 56, Ringo Starr is nearly as single-minded a was 43
years ago in his native Liverpool, when ne was known as
about music as he ears a|o
“When I was 13,1 wily wanted to be a drummer - a musician drummer,” recalled the bearded Englishman, who achieved enduring fame as one of the four Beatles.
“I did not want to be a banjo player, or a guitar player or play anything else. And that dream is still alive; that's what I do, that's what I want to do. And as the record shows, I do it more now. I had that break from 1970 to 1989, where my whole career went downhill, and so did I.
“Now I make records, I'm on tour, I'm doing this, I'm doing that. So I have a new lease on life, and I feel blessed for that. Many of the people in our game didn t quite make it.”
Including, it nearly transpired, Starr himself.
Following The Beatles' breakup in 1969, he launched a solo career that briefly sparked, then sputtered. Starr soon descended into a booze-and-drugs haze that saw him nearly lose his career -and his life.
Clean and clear-eyed since 1988, when he entered an Arizona rehabilitation center with his second wife, actress Barbara Bach, he is happily drug- and alcohol-free. He also quit smoking and now adheres to a strict vegetarian diet.
I know God has a plan for me, but I don't know what it is,” said Starr, speaking from his home in Beverly Hills.
“That’s Beverly Hills 90270,” he added, alluding to the TV show. Then his tone grew more serious. “Whatever you ask,” he said, “is all right by meu”
In that case, how's his golf game?
“I gave up,” replied Starr, who now confines his swinging to his drumming. “It took a whole day
LEADER OF THE BAND This marks Starr's fourth tour in the past eight years - three more tours than ex-Beatles Paul McCartney or George Harrison have undertaken during the same period. Does this mean Starr finds
and drummer-singer Simon Kirke, who played in Free before cofounding the still-active Bad Company. (Former Traffic guitarist-singer Dave Mason, who was featured in ads for the tour, is no longer in the All Starr lineup.)
“The only thing that’s constant
period. Does this mean Starr finds (to play a game), and it was just performing more meaningful than too long. I tried it for a couple of do his former band mates?
Ringo Starr - on tour with the All Starr Band
“The only thing that’s constant
is me," Starr said. “And Mark is constant from the last band. But this band is all-British, because I put bands together and I try and think of some sort of hook for it. We started with Jack Bruce and
years, and then it just faded out. I
work out physically, but I also did that when I played golf. Nothing's really replaced it; I don’t play football or anything.”
But he does play music. And since 1989, when he embarked on a tour with his first post-Beaties band, Starr has distinguished himself as the ex-Mop Top who most enjoys performing live - and on record.
He has been working on a new studio album “with a small little combo that I’m not going to mention,” he said. Then there s “a heavily penciled-in possibility” of making an album with an ad-hoc band, which would team Starr with Don Was, Leon Russell and country music legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
Starr is also featured on two songs on Paul McCartney’s new album, “Flaming Pie,” due out May 27. One of those songs, “Really Love You,” marks tne first time he and McCartney have ever shared writing credits.
“Paul asked me would I play on ‘Beautiful Night.* And tnen we had so much fun, we just started jamming, really. It just happened. We started jamming and he started singing, and it turned into this song. It just sort of, you know, things for me are organic, like the food I eat.”
And there’s more. Starr will also record a live album during his just-launched American tour with the latest edition of his aptly named All Starr Band. The six-man group’s U.S. concert trek began in late April. It
‘I don’t know if it has more meaning to me, as opposed to them,” he replied. “It’s just that I really enjoy it. I started as a musician, to be up there entertaining people. And I forgot that for a while, and now I’m back doing it. It's what I like.”
He laughed. “Also, for me as a drummer, it's pretty difficult to go out (on tour) alone,” he noted. “Doing ‘Yellow Submarine’ (with) just me and the drums is not that musical. So I have to put a band together to go out. And I think the main thing is, I really enjoy it. But I don’t enjoy it enough to do it 300 days a year, and I don't enjoy it enough to do it every year. So I do it every other year.”
This year, Stan is doing it with a band that - except for All Starr alum Mark Rivera on saxophone -is all-British. The lineup includes ex-Cream singer-bassist Jack Bruce; former Procol Harum singer-pianist Gary Brooker;
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the theme: ‘Well, let’s make a British band.’ It wasn’t like I sat there, day and night, wondering: ‘What can I do?’ They sort of happen organically, the bands I put together.”
“You know, we try and start with a bass player, who has numbers (songs). That’s the most difficult. And, of course, with Jack Bruce we got many numbers. So that’s how it happened. There’s no great magic to it.” Keyboardist-singer Brooker performed on Starr’s 1984 album, “Old Wave.” Apart from Rivera, he is the only member of the famed drummer’s band who had worked with Starr.
Kirke replaces Starr’s son, Zak, who is touring Europe this summer as the drummer in The Who. “This is a new dimension; we’ve got a singing drummer,” said Starr of Kirke, who will handle vocal duties on Free’s 1970 hit, “All Right Now.”
New dimension? But isn’t Starr a singing drummer?
“Well, that’s right,” he said, chuckling. “But I’m looking at the surroundings, not at myself. And also, you see, I found out from the first (All Starr Band) tour that I really enjoy being down at the front (of the stage). So I get the added bonus of playing the drums with all these great musicians, and then going down and being like this frontman.”
Starr’s third All Starr band, which toured in 1995, included Mark Farner, the singer and guitarist in the now reunited Grand Funk Railroad. Commenting on his tenure in Starr’s band during a recent interview, Fainer commented: “Everybody respects Ringo so much that, anything he said, we did with no problem. There was never a clash where anybody doubted him. If he said, ‘Do it,’ we did, and it worked.”
Asked to respond, Starr said: “Well, (in) all the bands, we have to remember that we support each other, IOO percent, and we’re there to entertain the audience. And I won’t have any prima donnas in my band.”
In previous interviews, Starr has made a point of noting that he never practices his drumming -except when he’s performing on stage. Is this still the case?
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replied, before offering a qualification. “I mean, I do practice a little before we start rehearsals, listening to the other (all Starr) members’ songs. Because I’ve never played them, and I do like to have some knowledge of them before we all start rehearsals together. And I hope they are doing the same.
“I’m listening - I have to re-listen, that is - to the tracks we’ll be doing. And, actually, if you listen to Peter Frampton’s stuff, there’s no busy drums. (Procol Harum’s) ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ is just straight-ahead rock. There’s a definite, sort of ‘1960s feel’ drum (parts) in a lot of (the All Starr Band’s repertoire), out that’s just some sort of roly-poly fills, so it’s nothing difficult. I thought doing that Ginger Baker stuff (on the Cream songs Jack Bruce is singing) might be difficult, but it’s quite simple too.”
After having anchored the world’s most famous rock band for most of the 1960s, does the former Beatles drummer find it easy or difficult to make the transition from being a band member to being a band leader?
“Well, I find it very easy, actually,” he replied. “You know,
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suddenly in 1989,1 got this bright idea of putting a band together, and calling it the All Starr Band. And I was specific in calling it the All Starr Band, because bands are what I’m in. It came very naturally to me.”
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