Backstage at the El Rey Theater last night, where he was receiving the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace’s “Lifetime of Peace and Love Award,” Ringo Starr greeted visitors with an elbow instead of a handshake (“it’s cold and flu season,” he noted) and gave a short, impromptu press conference for an audience of two reporters, including Rolling Stone. His Grammy appearance on Sunday, he said, will be pegged to the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles playing The Ed Sullivan Show. Here’s some excerpts from the conversation:
Do you have any memories of winning the Best New Artist Grammy in 1964?
No. I remember they had them in Nashville once, and Harry Nilsson and I went up. The Beatles had won, like, 19 Grammys. They brought them on a tray. There were so many Grammys, it was hard to lift.
When you think back to that night at the Ed Sullivan Theater. . .
Incredible. It was Ed Sullivan, and it was a big show, and we didn’t know while we were playing that 70 million people were watching, but it was being in America that was so exciting. All the music we loved was in America; it came from America to England. Where we come from, Liverpool, it was great because it was a port, so all of the guys from New York would bring the tracks over. Vinyl in those days, the LPs, and it was just great. I could feel the buzz, even on the plane, it was so exciting. I went, Aaaaah!
That day, you guys were in the studio for a long time and there was chaos out in the streets.
It was crazy, and it was just like everywhere else for us. The other good news was that with Murray the K and Cousin Bruce, we’re on the radio, in our hotel rooms.
Do you remember the first time you ever meditated?
In India. Well, we went to Wales to do the seminars with Maharishi, but really, when we got to India, would be group meditation.
Who was the most enlightened person you ever met?
Ah, well, you meet so many people in the rocky road of life. I don’t think you can put a name on that. You can’t say that one, or that one. It’s not very enlightened.