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Talking With The Beatles' Ringo Starr

May 7, 2007 6:24 PM ET

For our fortieth anniversary, the editors of Rolling Stone have interviewed twenty artists and leaders who helped shape our time. We've been debuting exclusive audio clips from the Q&As, giving you unparalleled access to some of the most important personalities in history.

Today we present Fab Four drummer and "Octopus's Garden" inhabiter Ringo Starr. Starr's imprint on rock & roll history is unmistakable: As the drummer of The Beatles, he supposedly inspired more people to become drummers than anyone else in history, he captained the Yellow Submarine, and he was the catalyst for millions of Pete Best punchlines. Sitting down with Anthony DeCurtis for our fortieth anniversary issue, Starr talks about his dabbles with drugs, his favorite new music and dealing with the loss of fellow Beatles John and George. Listen to six excerpts from that interview, and for the entire Ringo profile, get your copy of our fortieth anniversary issue, on stands now.

Ringo is convinced Kurt Cobain was a hippie: "Kurt Cobain was really powerful. He had great songs that were about the time he lived in. And that attitude.... Though he was this kid, this angry motherfucker, I never felt that. I always felt that inside he was a really loving guy."

Starr talks about some of the new bands that he loves: "Last year, the Magic Numbers were my band. I love them. Amy Winehouse has a really cool sound. There's a lot of people out there, but most of them only get a chance to make one CD...."

Ringo jokes about the last time he saw the Rolling Stones live: "Mick got us the tickets, and we had great seats, but we were watching the screens the whole time. I thought, 'Well, I can watch this on TV.' So I haven't been to a stadium show since...."

And the last time he saw Bob Dylan live: "Some days, he gives you very clear Bob, and some days he gives a Bob that doesn't want you to understand what he's saying...."Ringo discusses the seemingly endless impact of The Beatles' music: "The kids are listening. That's the incredible part.... You could play it now for people in blindfolds, and they'd think it was from today..."

Starr speaks solemnly about the passing of John and George: "With John, it was such a shock that you dealt with it later. With George, you dealt with it as it was going on, which was harder in its way. But you have to say, 'Life is life. It happens.' "

Check back tomorrow for another installment of our twenty-part audio interviews, featuring some of the most iconic and influential pop culture figures of the last 40 years. Want a hint at tomorrow's interviewee? What Oscar-winning actress told us this:
"People need to be uplifted and have their hearts opened, and music can do that. Jackson Browne did that. Bruce Springsteen did that. James Taylor. The Dixie Chicks do it now. Film can go a step further."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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