Friday, July 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Ringo!

Just for today I've taken a break from my usual John Lennon posts to celebrate Ringo Starr's 66th birthday!


Some recommended Ringo sites:
Ringo's Official Site
Gary Schultz's Ringo Starr Page
Ringo Rocks My Socks
The Ringo Starr Fan Site


A campaign to have Ringo inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Dingle rec gets Starr treatment
Jul 6 2006

By Catherine Jones Culture Reporter, Liverpool Echo

A DERELICT Dingle recreation area is being transformed in a £1m scheme and renamed after Beatle Ringo Starr.

Work will start tomorrow on the new sports field at Dingle swings recreation ground.

Starr Fields will include a floodlit synthetic pitch, tennis and net-ball games areas and a changing pavilion.

Shorefields community comprehensive, which has put together the scheme, also has plans for six sculpted bronze benches in tribute to the famous drummer.

The young Ringo Starr attended the school when it was Dingle Vale secondary, but ill health meant he spent much of his time in Liverpool's children's hospital.

Now, Shorefields' 1,000 pupils are using outdated PE facilities. The new scheme will change that.

It will also be used by a number of primary schools.

Headteacher John Charnock said: "We're hugely excited about this scheme as it will provide a fantastic facility for pupils and the local community to use.

"Ringo Starr has offered his support and is as enthusiastic as we are about the opportunities it offers to young people."

Teacher Andrew Chambers, whohas spent 12 months liaising with Starr and his management, said: "In a second phase we want two local artists to spend time with Ringo and get his ideas and inspiration.

"The idea is for six benches, from the six decades of his life, which will be in the parkland surrounding the sports facilities.

"We want the sculpture to last 200-300 years."

Money for the £1m sports scheme is coming from the school and Big Lottery Fund. The future artwork plans could cost an extra £300,000.

The 66-year-old former Beatle, born Richard Starkey, already has a street named after him - Ringo Starr Drive in Kensington.

Last year he revealed on television that he and Sir Paul McCartney had joked about how Liverpool airport, renamed Liverpool John Lennon airport in 2001, could have a Ringo Starr baggage carousel.

Starr's son Zak Starkey is currently in Liverpool, playing drums with the Who at the Summer Pops.

From icLiverpool


Here are two Ringo interviews, one from 1995 and the other from 2000.

Ringo Starr on The Beatles Anthology
Q, 1995

When did Anthology start coming together?

The original cut was 1970. That’s how long this has been around. Neil Aspinall was involved from the start. He put it together, then something happened and we’ve been working on it for the last four years really. It just seemed to be getting OK. We went through the stages of the three of us saying “hello” in different situations, in restaurants and offices. Then we started working separately, then we started doing a bit together and then of course it ends up with us recording together.

Do you think Beatlemania brought out the best or the worst in people?

Well, I think it was always the best for the fans. I mean, they just came to the place, screamed like crazy and had a good time. And that was it. You have to remember we were only on for thirty minutes. I don’t think any fans could sustain that amount of mania for two hours like they do now.
The bad side, if any, was the Ku Klux Klan shouting at us and the rituals of record burnings because the crazy people were leading the fans on.

Paul has said, “Ringo never repeated the same drum sound, not even on an album.” What about that?

Well, at that time we were the biggest band. We opened up stadiums. We were just playing to more and more people, selling more records than anybody, so you know, that was a hidden clue.

How did you deal with John not being with you for the new records?

We had to get over that. We got over it by feeling that he’d gone for lunch, he’d gone for a cup of tea. ‘Cos all the time we were making records we were all in the room. All the time. So we dealt with it by saying he was just around the corner – but it’s a sadness for all of us because you know, the three of us got pretty close again there, and still there’s that empty hole, you know, that is John.

Do you think he would have loved making up?

Yeah, I think he would have loved being back with us now. A lot of the footage of John is angry, in the documentary, because that’s where he was in the 70s. He was sort of putting the Beatles down, I think. Now he’d have felt differently. He would have loved the new music.

Do you like ‘Free As A Bird’?

It’s great - and I’m not just saying that because I’m on it! It’s an amazing Beatle track. And for me, being away for it so long, I listened to it and I thought, “It sounds just like them!” I’d taken myself away from it for so long, that it was like listening to it as an outsider. It’s brilliant. I think you could say that they could have made this in 1967.


They! So much distance has gone down from those days. I thought, “Sounds just like them! ”
But you know, of course it did, because we were on it! It’s one of their really good tracks.

And the song ‘Real Love’?

Well, Real Love’s more of a pop song. It was more difficult, actually, to turn it into a real Beatle track. And we also did another song that we didn’t finish because that’s not how the Beatles worked. We didn’t just do John songs or Paul songs. We needed a couple of George tracks, a couple of Paul’s and my track to make it more real.
But it felt extremely natural. Over the years, of course, I’ve played with Paul and I’ve played with George, but the three of us together was just really cool.
We are the only ones who know each other. We knew what it was like. They are the only two that don’t look at me like I’m a Beatle. They look at me like I’m a Ringo and I look at them like he’s a Paul or he’s a George, you know.

What do you think is in the future for the Beatles?

There is nothing in the future for the Beatles because there aren’t any Beatles any more. There’s only these films and records of the Beatles. And there are three Beatles still around but the band isn’t here any more. We could go out as Paul, George and Ringo, but not as the Beatles.

The BBC album seemed to pave the way for all this. What did you think of that record?

It was a really cool album. I knew it would do Ok, but it just took off. It was great. I love it, because it showed people that the Beatles weren’t just fab and famous: we were really cool musicians.
That was really how we played. We started live and I think that gave hope to a lot of other bands.


Ringo at 60
David Wilson, TV Times, July 2000

True to his loveable persona Ringo Starr – born Richard Starkey – is a funny, approachable man. He may grow grumpy when asked too many Beatles questions (‘Enough about those damn Beatle boys!’), but he understands why people are interested 30 years later.

“We had a lot of fun onstage and we were creative,” he says. “The line we always used to trot out was ‘Where are we going boys? To the top!’ Nobody knew it would be like Mount Everest. And we stayed there. That’s the difference with the Beatles.”

In the years that followed the break-up of the band, Ringo surprised his doubters with the smash success of his solo 1972 album, Ringo, as well as impressive turns as an actor.

“John, Paul, George and I were shocked – never mind anyone else,” he smiles. “I was number one. The biggest seller. It was incredible.”

If ever there was an advert for longevity, it’s Ringo. Despite turning 60 this Friday, he’s hardly slowing down. So will he be celebrating the big Six-Oh? He’d rather watch paint dry.

"I hate it. I hated my 40th. My 50th and 55th were fine, but this one, I’m just not enjoying it. I don’t see it. If I don’t look in the mirror I’m 24. But 60 – I have all those images from my childhood. People who are 60 are just…old. Mind you, at 45 I was derelict.”

In typical rock-star fashion, Ringo’s 40s were fuelled by drugs and alcohol. After his first marriage to Maureen Cox ended in 1975, he met Bond girl Barbara Bach. They married in 1981. Seven years later they both checked themselves into a rehab centre.

“We got into a lot of difficulty with drugs and alcohol,” he admits. “The albums went downhill; I went downhill. I wasn’t in charge. I don’t remember the last drink I had, although I remember the fear of coming to after however long it was. We got each other to go into rehab, because we’d finally hit the floor. We both recognised it and we knew we needed help. From those days in rehab in 1988, we’ve supported each other in this new life. I haven’t had a drink in nearly 12 years.”

Ringo puts down much of his success down to his wife.
“The first song I ever wrote for her was called You Can’t Fight Lightning and it’s true, I couldn’t. I surrendered to her.”

The pair met while starring in the movie Caveman.

“Then we met again at LA airport and I fell in love with her as her boyfriend was putting her on a plane. My story is, she then tortured me for three months and we haven’t been apart since.”

“We just knew we were going to get married. We got together in Mexico City and that was it. We both phoned the people we were having affairs with at the time and said, ‘You’ll never believe it, I’ve fallen in love.”

“I can’t describe it. I just felt an incredible love for the woman. She’s so giving and really kind. A heart as big as a house. I fell in love with all that – as well as the visual side. You’d have to be blind not to see it. I fell for this whole crazy woman.”

The feeling is obviously mutual. Barbara once said of her husband, “You can’t fabricate charm and Ritchie has charm.” To which Ringo chuckles “What can I say? My head won’t fit through the door. I’m a charmed guy.”

So what’s the secret of keeping a marriage going?“At night you’ve got to say – no matter how bad the day has been – ‘I love you darling’. And it’s taken me twenty years, but it’s a little easier now to say ‘I’m sorry’.

His private life now is certainly more settled than the Beatlemania he experienced in the sixties. He finds it amazing that, despite all the touring and groupies that were constantly throwing themselves at the Fab Four, Paul and the late Linda McCartney stayed together – unlike Ringo and his first wife, Maureen.

“They managed to keep it together, but I’m afraid the fallout of so much madness was that Maureen and I got divorced,” he says. “We had children [Zak, now 34, Jason, 32, and Lee, 29] and did the best we could. We weren’t like a lot of the bands today who say, ‘Oh, we can’t marry – we put our career first’. Or ‘I can’t do that, I can’t become a parent now.’ I got married. We had Zak. Two years later we had Jay and in 1970 we had Lee. We lived.”

He regrets not being around very much for his children and reckons his ex-wife was generous for saying that he was a good father.

“I don’t feel like that, really,” he says. “I feel that I let them down in many ways. But the kids keep coming around and they tell me that they love me, so that makes me cry. That makes me happy.”

And while he may not like getting older, he’s revelling in becoming a grandfather.

“I love it,” he grins. “Tatia, who’s 14 now and our first grandchild from Zak and Sarah calls me ‘Grandad’. They tried to be modern parents and said, ‘Well, what do you want to be called?’ I said, ‘I want to be called Grandad!’ I love that."

Despite the remaining three Beatles’ busy lives, Ringo still keeps in touch with Paul and George.
“Communication is good between us. We don’t live in each other’s pockets, but we’ve been to each other’s homes, we have dinner, we have lunch. We also say, ‘If you’re in my town, come on over.’ There are certainly no major problems. But we’re like a family and families have their ups and downs.”The trio have been through a lot together recently, most notably Linda McCartney’s death two years ago. Ringo was devastated when she died of breast cancer, but approves of Paul’s new relationship with model-turned-presenter Heather Mills.

“I loved Linda. Barbara and I really adored Linda,” he says. “But you know, she’s in heaven. And Paul is living his life and getting on with it. He’s found someone he can be close to and I think that’s a good thing.”

He and Paul also rallied round George Harrison when he was injured fighting against an intruder who broke into his London home last year.

“George impressed me,” he shudders. “I always think, in that situation I’d lock myself in the cupboard. But you don’t know what you’d do. My relationship with George is very good, so I thank God he’s still with us. It could have been a lot worse than it was. I went into shock, because we’d been friends for all these years. Suddenly you think, ‘My God, I could have lost this friend to some mad-ass guy.’ Suddenly you realise, ‘Wow, I’ve got to phone him more often.”

George is still recovering from the attack.

“He’s doing as good as he can,” says Ringo. “After all, he’s getting over a major madness; it’s not going to happen in a week.”

The next project the three have lined up together is the release of an official book about the Beatles, called Anthology. They hope it’ll put an end to much of the unauthorised material that’s been written about them over the years.Ringo has no time for the unauthorised and sensationalised stream of Beatle-related projects, including a Linda McCartney TV movie, that keep being made.
“I don’t read anything about us and I don’t watch crap like that. Why all this drivel about us? I’m like ‘No, I’m afraid I was there, and we weren’t like that and one of us is dead and can’t defend himself.’ But people make it up and then others believe that’s how it was.”

“Drumming is my madness,” he explains. “My dream at 13 was to be a drummer – to have a kit, and play with really good people. That hasn’t changed. The rehearsals are always hard, the travelling is always hard, but the show’s always a lot of fun.”

“I’m not out every night now; I’m not searching for nightclubs and things like that anymore. When we arrive in cities it’s usually a family affair. We have fun on stage and then I go back to the hotel, usually. It’s not a social world for me anymore.”

He doesn’t miss the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that he experienced with The Beatles, and is amused by the mania that surrounds today’s boybands.

“The fans are always 12 years old,” he smiles. “When the Beatles were out there the fans were 12 and they still are today. That hasn’t changed since Frank Sinatra. Elvis was the same.”

“We’ve had an incredible career, The Beatles, because musically, the records still hold up. There’s a lot of bands today still trying to do a Beatles sound. I love the last Oasis single. I thought the bass player was incredible and as melodic as Paul.”

He even reckons he could take the young ones on. “I’d like to make one more record and go out with a blast,” he says. “I’d like to go out with a number one.”

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