In the summer of 1989, Ringo Starr hit the road for his first time since his days in the Beatles, and he decided to take about half of classic rock with him. He called the backing group the All-Starr Band, and it featured Billy Preston, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, Levon Helm, Jim Keltner, Rick Danko, Nils Lofgren and Clarence Clemons. The set teetered between Beatles classics, Ringo tunes and the many hits the various band members brought to the table. It made for a weird range of songs each night, but it was always wildly entertaining.
Some of the best moments of the evening came when Levon Helm and Rick Danko played tunes by the Band, especially when Garth Hudson strapped on an accordion and made one of his many guest appearance. That meant the entire current lineup of the Band was out there at once. That happened on September 4th, 1989 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, and a professional camera crew captured the whole thing. Here’s the All-Starr band performing “The Weight.” Dr. John tackles the third verse that Levon Helm sang on the original, though Danko took the “Crazy Chester” verse just like he did on the record. One might think the song doesn’t need a Clarence Clemons sax solo, three drummers and two keyboardists, but then again, why the hell not?
The All-Starr band has gone through many, many permutations over the years, taking on everyone from Sheila E. to Eric Carmen and Howard Jones. But in 2012, he hit the road with Toto’s Steve Lukather, Santana’s Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren and Mr. Mister’s Richard Page. These aren’t the sort of heavyweights he played with that first summer, but Ringo loved the results and has stuck with them over the past four years. They even wrote an original song. They have yet another leg coming in October 2016 that will take them from Snoqualmie, Washington to Seoul, South Korea.