Sitting In The Yard Of his Los Angeles home surrounded by his dogs Ying and Yang, Ringo Starr looks like a happy man. He’s just back fsrom the acupuncturist and is getting ready to head out on the road with his All-Starr Band, an ever-changing outfit that has become a semiregular fixture on the summer-tour scene since 1989. The All-Starrs’ brand-new The Anthology … So Far album gathers live recordings from previous road trips. This year’s lineup features Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople fame, synth popster Howard Jones, Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, Greg Lake from Emerson, Lake and Palmer and former Prince percussionist Sheila E, as well as bandleader Mark Rivera. And then there’s the sixty-one-year-old drummer, who apparently kept time for some boy band once upon a Fab time.
That reheated mania surrounding the “I” album was fun for Beatles freaks — was it good for you?
It’s been incredible. We knew it would do good because we do good every year. But it did so good. It’s like, “Hello. How many?” It’s great, but I’ve always said — if you look at interviews from Day One —that it’s about the music. It’s not about us and our personalities or whatever broke up the Beatles and that bullshit. It’s on the tracks. The music is there, the songs are there, and the living proof is that the kids run out and get the music still.
Even without knowing who the Cute One was or is.
That’s what I’m saying. They are just listening to the music like a pure thing. And the good thing we decided to do is not to be so visual to promote it because these bodies would be promoting it, and there were those twenty-year-old dudes on the records, you know.
However, I must say that for an old dude, you’re looking great.
Yeah, I feel great. I put a lot of time into looking great. A lot of working out and stuff like that.
Are you aware that former All-Starrs Todd Rundgren and John Entwistle have been out on the road doing a Fab-themed show, “A Walk Down Abbey Road”?
I am. I saw Todd’s manager, and I said, “Tell Todd I still love him.” It doesn’t bother me at all. They’re all trying to make a living. Todd’s trying to pay off his rent in Hawaii, so whatever he wants to do …
In the last decade, you’ve become Road Warrior — during the summers, at least. But there were Dark Ages before that when you didn’t do much of anything except abuse substances. Do you reflect often on those lost times?
Well, I was a lost boy. I was lost in the other world — the night world of alcohol and drugs. I was one of those who wasn’t prolific in any way because I was too busy being busy. You don’t do anything, but you make lots of notes that you can’t read the next morning. Since that period ended, that’s when I started doing all of this. I got back into the light, you know. Now I love the light. I’ve spent too many years in dark places.
Did anyone try to pull you out of your troubles?
A couple of really close friends tried to intervene. It didn’t happen. I was too messed up, but I still remember those people who loved me enough to say something like, “Come on, you’ve got to stop this,” and it makes me cry, actually. And I couldn’t. I mean, that’s the deal. You can’t. It’s not like you can just say, “Oh, that’s it,” you know. You don’t think, “Tuesday, 5:30, I’m going to a rehab.” It has to be so bad.
What’s a day in the life like for you these days?
Well, a day in the life is, I actually spend it in the day. I’m not getting up between four and eight in the evening. My wife and I are up anywhere between seven and nine in the morning. Today was an easy day. We went and did some shopping. We went to the chiropractor, and tonight we’re having dinner with some friends. It’s a regular day, you know.
Does the recent increase in the Beatles’ profile make life more difficult for you?
Yes. You know, the profile was just getting really low, it was great, and then suddenly you’re a Fab again. You’re one of the Fabs because of the I album. It’s really funny that it just brings it right up. We were at the health-food market the other day, and it’s like I’m being stalked by people with trolleys. Certainly, I was in the health-food market last year, and no one was taking a blind bit of notice, so it has brought the profile up.
That’s the downside of the topper-most of the …
… poppermost, yes. The actual profile will never go away. And, you know, we’ve all learned to live with that. It took some years, but it’s a little more relaxed.
Can you say how George is doing?
George is recovering. Thank you. Thanks for asking.
How is communication these days?
With myself? Well, even that’s getting better. The communication between us hasn’t changed. We were here, and Paul was here. So we had dinner. We went out. He came over to the house. When we’re in England, if I’m there, we’ll do that, too. We’ll say hi, you know. Go over to George’s, or he’s over to our house. We’ve always been like that. But it’s not like we’re living together — people want us to live together again. They want to see the Fabs. We have our own lives, and if it’s nice and calm we meet up, say hi, hello, and move on till the next time. I mean, we have to talk to each other, because we do have a company that we’re all shareholders in.
Had any good shareholders’ meetings lately?
Yeah, we had a great meeting in March it was, I think. We were actually all hanging out together. That was nice.
Why not? The shareholders had a fabulous year.
The shareholders had a great year.