Ringo Starr returns to the cover of Rolling Stone on his own for the first time since 1981 in our new issue (on stands Friday). The happy-go-lucky Beatle gets serious, tracing his whole life to this point, from his poverty-stricken childhood to his struggles with drugs and alcohol to his upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. He also considers whether the Beatles would have ever re-formed if John Lennon and George Harrison were still alive. Contributing Editor Stephen Rodrick traveled down to Fort Pierce, Florida, to hang out with Starr as the drummer prepped for what he estimated would be at least his 800th solo concert. Below, watch exclusive, behind-the-scenes video of Starr playing drums on the beach during his innovative cover shoot with photographer Mark Seliger in Miami.
On the question of a hypothetical Beatles reunion, Starr says that he believes it would have been possible. “With the [technology] you have now, I think we could have got it together,” he reveals. “I think the stumbling block was just sitting around and saying, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ And we never got to that. You know, we did in twos, we talked about it. But I think if we had just relaxed behind it long enough, we still had the songs, and we still could play. We could have put it together. And we could have done ‘A Day in the Life.’ Of course, it’s ended now. John and George are gone.”
The closet thing possible to a Beatles reunion these days will occur on April 18th when Paul McCartney inducts Starr into the Hall of Fame in Cleveland. McCartney says he kickstarted the process after having dinner with Robbie Robertson, who pointed out that Beatles manager Brian Epstein was in, but Ringo was not. “I said, ‘Let me see what I can do,'” says McCartney. “And I talked to Bruce Springsteen and I talked to Dave Grohl, and they both said he should be in. And I said I’d do the induction. That took care of it.”
In the cover story, Starr also explains why he decided to get clean in 1988 after years of drinking and drugging. “It gets really lonely, you know,” he says. “It’s just really cold and lonely. It’s a miserable disease, in the end. There’s a crowd of you, and it’s lonely. Because that’s all you’re doing is getting fucked, you know. But I haven’t been that lonely since.”
Also in this issue: Janet Reitman on three Chicago teenagers who ran away to join ISIS, Jonah Weiner on Courtney Barnett, a Q&A with former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, plus James Taylor, Alabama Shakes and Jason Beghe.
Look for the issue on stands or download it on Friday, March 27th.