Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Ringo Starr turns 70 years old today, a milestone he’ll celebrate with a show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall alongside his All Starr Band (check back for a full report tomorrow). This week, a special on Starr is also debuting on PBS stations nationwide: the Season Two premiere of Live From the Artists Den, a performance and interview series that captures concerts in unique settings. Starr’s set, which was filmed in January at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, features guest appearances from Ben Harper and Relentless7 and Joan Osbourne on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band classic “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
“We’re still being fulfilled as musicians,” Starr says of why he keeps rocking. “The beat goes on. As long as we get out of bed we stand a good chance of having a good day.” As for “With a Little Help From My Friends” (watch a clip of the performance below), Starr explains the track still has special resonance for him. “It’s an iconic song, so whatever band I’m with, when we play that, everyone’s like ‘Wow, that’s “Little Help,” and we’re playing it,’ ” he adds.
Harper, who joins Ringo for the full performance, says his admiration for Starr’s work has only grown since he’s worked with the drummer. “Having now gotten inside of these songs, they’re extraordinarily complex. You hear them and they make you feel so good, and they have an air of simplicity, but I don’t know why or how that happens.” As Rolling Stone reported in March, Starr guests on Harper’s upcoming disc with the Relentless7, which is titled Give Till It’s Gone and due in the fall.
Live From the Artists Den will also spotlight Tori Amos, the Black Crowes, David Gray, Booker T. and the Dirty South, Dierks Bentley and Corinne Bailey Rae this season. Each performance is also accompanied by an interview conducted by music critic and Rolling Stone contributor Alan Light.
For more on Starr, check out Rob Sheffield’s blog post “Ringo’s Greatest Hit,” a celebration of the dummer’s work on “Rain,” which he calls “the greatest thing he ever played, and one of the all-time high points of rock & roll drumming.”