Ringo Starr returned to the iconic Capitol Records Tower and a gathering of several hundred Beatles fans to celebrate the unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday night. "I want to thank Capitol Records," Starr said to cheers, glancing up at the tower. "It's nice to look at a building that you helped pay for."
The ceremony began as a column of local high school marching band drummers in red uniforms poured out the tower lobby pounding a festive beat. "OK, drummers!" announced Starr as he stepped to the podium, where the occasion was marked with speeches from Joe Walsh, Ben Harper and Don Was. "It's also cool to get it at night," Starr said, dressed in a black suit and shades. "Where I live the stars come out at night."
The Beatles were awarded a star on the walk in 1998. Starr is the third Beatle to be honored as a solo artist, following stars given posthumously to John Lennon and George Harrison. He pointed at the sidewalk outside Capitol's Vine Street entrance, where the names of his late bandmates were written. "I love them both, and I want to send peace and love to both of them. And let's not forget the guy's who's in England — Paul.
"They looked out for me and I looked out for them, and we all supported each other," Starr said of the four Beatles. "It was really beautiful to be part of that. And besides that, we made some great records."
Monday was also the 50th anniversary of the Walk of Fame, which honors filmmakers, musicians, stage, radio and TV performers. Standing nearby was a gathering of friends that included Eric Idle (Monty Python, the Rutles), filmmaker David Lynch, ELO's Jeff Lynne, Edgar Winter and actress Barbara Bach, Starr's wife of 30 years.
The first of Starr's friends to speak was Walsh, who has worked with him as producer and sideman through the decades and then became his brother-in-law after marrying Bach's sister, Marjorie, in 2008. Walsh said, "He's not just the greatest drummer in rock history — from the greatest band in rock history — he's also the greatest guy I know and the most kind and helpful friend you could ever want."
The Eagles guitarist then turned the occasion into a roast of his friend, describing Starr in his earliest days as "a little kid with a very big dream and a pretty big nose." He noted that the two first met in the mid-1970s during all-night jam sessions at the Record Plant studio in Los Angeles. "Neither of us really remember that but friends of mine told me we just had a really great time."
Walsh produced Starr's little-heard 1983 album Old Wave, and joked Monday, "That album did really good in Switzerland, and it was also number one in Lithuania."
Producer Was called Starr "my hero," and described the former Beatle's drumming style as subtle and filled with personality. "There's joy and there is jocularity in his playing that is irresistible," he said. "They are simply manifestations of his great qualities as a man."
Ben Harper, who has performed with his Relentless7 as Starr's backup group in recent weeks during a brief promotional tour, said, "The Walk of Fame is receiving a star by which all other stars are measured." Both Harper and Walsh appear on Starr's just-released 15th solo album, Y Not.
Standing next to Starr at the podium, Harper said the very first song he learned to sing as a child was the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends," the drummer's beloved vocal from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "Working as tirelessly as a 10-year-old could, so that I could learn every vocal inflection that Ringo sang — and I've got to admit, I nailed it."