Ringo Starr recently announced the details of his 30th anniversary tour with the All Starr Band, which will feature Men At Work’s Colin Hay, Santana’s Gregg Rolie, Toto’s Steve Lukather and Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart. “It’s become what I do — I go on tour,” Starr recently told Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield. “So we’re starting in Japan in March, then in the summer we do America. I’ve got plenty of time so I love to play. And of course, being the drummer, I can’t go out like a solo. If I played guitar I’d probably be a folksinger and go out every day.”
Ringo is, of course, the only consistent member of the All Starr Band over the past 30 years. Anyone that sings lead on at least two major hits and can accompany Starr and the other members of the group on their own material is eligible to join. In the early days it was mainly figures from the Sixties and Seventies like Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh and Jack Bruce, but he’s opened it up to the Eighties in more recent years with Howard Jones, Sheila E. and Richard Page from Mr. Mister. He has yet to invite any Nineties figures into the group, but we look forward to a future lineup with Mark McGrath, John Rzeznik, Coolio and Art Alexakis joining in on the fun. (Coolio would tear shit up on “Back Off Boogaloo.”)
One of the most interesting lineups came together for the 1995 tour when the drummer united Randy Bachman, Mark Farner, Billy Preston, Felix Cavaliere and John Entwistle. With the exception of Preston, it was the only time everyone in the group ever toured with Ringo. It was a set packed with the hits of Grand Funk Railroad, the Rascals, the Who, the Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and, of course, the Beatles.
John Entwistle spent the previous summer touring with Roger Daltrey on his Daltrey Sings Townshend tour, which marked the first time he played with Ringo’s son Zac Starkey on drums. They reunited on the 1995 All Starr Band tour and would play together the following summer when Pete Townshend reunited the band to stage the Who’s 1973 LP Quadrophenia. On the Ringo tour, Entwistle stuck to the handful of Who songs where he sang lead. Here’s video of him playing “Boris the Spider” that summer. It’s a little odd to see that cross-section of musicians playing a relatively obscure Who song, but somehow it works.
John Entwistle never played an All Starr gig again after that one tour because the Who stayed pretty busy until his sudden death in 2002, but when they took the summer of 2001 off Entwistle took part in the Walk Down Abbey Road tour with Alan Parsons, Ann Wilson and Todd Rundgren. The acts all played their own hits and then a set of Beatles classics. They were essentially competing with Ringo that summer for the Beatle dollar, but he didn’t seem to mind and he invited Rundgren back into the All Starr Band a few years later. Sadly, it marked Enwistle’s final tour, though he did play five U.K. shows with the Who in the final months of his life.