A 2019 video of Robbie Robertson playing “The Weight” with Ringo Starr and musicians from all over the world went viral again this week for reasons that aren’t quite clear, but maybe people isolated in their homes just needed something uplifting to watch. “This started circulating on Twitter again a couple days ago,” Robertson wrote on Facebook on Monday. “Hopefully it can bring the FB community a bit of joy in these difficult times. Blessings to all.”
It wasn’t the first time that Ringo had performed a Band classic with a surviving member of the group. That happened in the summer of 1989 when he hit the road with the first edition of his All Starr Band. It was an amazing lineup of musicians that included Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Clarence Clemons, Dr. John, Billy Preston, Joe Walsh, and Nils Lofgren.
They had a huge arsenal of hits between them all, and one of the nightly highlights came midway through show when Levon Helm led them all through “Up on Cripple Creek.” Here’s video from one of the shows that summer where they were joined by the Band’s Garth Hudson on accordion. If you’re keeping track, that’s three-fifths of the Band playing with two-sixths of the E Street Band, and individual members of the Beatles and the Eagles along with two of the great piano players in rock history.
Sadly, the vast majority of that All Starr Band is no longer among the living. That became quite clear last summer when Ringo invited all of the All Starr alumni to a 30th-anniversary show and Lofgren and Walsh were the only ones left.
Presuming the tour isn’t postponed by the coronavirus, Ringo and his current iteration of the All Starr Band are hitting the road in June. There are no Eagles or E Streeters or members of the Band this time, but they do have Toto’s Steve Lukather, Santana’s Gregg Rolie, Men at Work’s Colin Hay, and Hamish Stewart of the Average White Band. That means you get to hear “Africa” and “Down Under” in the same show along with “Black Magic Woman,” “Pick Up the Pieces,” and “Yellow Submarine.” That may not be quite as impressive a show as it was back in 1989, but it’s still a ton of fun.