Ringo Starr will never write a book about his life, he insisted during a “Town Hall” broadcast live yesterday on SiriusXM from the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif. “I’ve been asked to write an autobiography of myself, but they really only want those eight years,” he said with a laugh, referring to his time in the Beatles. “And I say, ‘But there are 10 volumes before we get to that, and 20 afterwards.'”
The afternoon broadcast had Starr trading wisecracks and surreal repartee with host and inquisitor Russell Brand, who sat onstage next to the legendary drummer with a crazed grin, welcoming him to Los Angeles. “As you know, I was born in South Central,” said the British Brand, wearing a leather jacket and long scarf. “Unfortunately, I’m a Crip and Ringo’s a Blood.”
The occasion was this week’s release of Starr’s new album, Ringo 2012, as an intimate crowd of satellite radio listeners read from prepared questions. One fan noted that Monday was the 43rd anniversary of the Beatles’ famous rooftop concert in London – the band’s final live public performance. “Is it really?” Starr replied, caught by surprise.
Starr said he had just one disappointment with that historic 1969 concert, documented by a camera crew for the film Let It Be: “The police came to stop us, and I was on the roof: ‘Come on, drag me off!’ It would be so dramatic, and the damn cop wouldn’t drag me off!”
He announced plans for a U.S. tour in 2012 and answered questions on his life and music, including the source of his influential drumming style, which owes something to being born left-handed while his grandmother – “the voodoo queen of Liverpool” – forced him to write with his right. He remains a lefty in everything else.
Starr frequently flashed a peace sign and repeated his personal greeting: “Peace and love, peace and love.” Dressed in a black suit, his black hair and beard cropped short, Starr said, “It’s up to you. I’m always doing it.”
Brand then held up his fingers and said, “Actually, Ringo, you did insist that if I didn’t put my two fingers like that, you would break them.”
“I did say that in a peace and love way,” Starr deadpanned.
Asked how he felt about the digital revolution, as listeners choose to download individual songs instead of full albums, Starr said, “It’s a different time, and I’m afraid to say that’s what I do. If you made a record, I’d probably pick out tracks that I like and download that. That’s just how it is. We have to go with that because it’s changed.
“I love the modern technology now. I was a little opposed to it –’Oh, in my day, we used to have a donkey turning the wheel, and two guys chewing tape to make it soft,'” Starr joked, but also proudly noted the vinyl version of his new album.
When one fan rambled a little too long, Brand declared: ‘You’re the worst audience member since John Wilkes Booth.”
Starr also was joined by producer and “moderator” Don Was for some final questions, and then a four-piece band for a quick set of solo and Beatles tunes, beginning with his 1971 hit “It Don’t Come Easy.” He stepped behind a drumkit to play and sing the Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man.” His friend (and in-law) Joe Walsh stepped onstage for some fiery guitar during “Wings,” an old Starr tune re-recorded for the new album, then closed with the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” and Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally.”
“I don’t want to go back anywhere,” Starr said when asked where in his past he’d revisit or change. “I want to deal with what’s in front of me now to the best of my abilities, and sometimes that’s not very good. But a lot of the days it is really great.”