Clapton, Willie Join Ringo

Beatles drummer to release first album in five years

Ringo Starr will release a new solo album, Ringo Rama, in March. The record features guest spots by Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Willie Nelson, Van Dyke Parks, Shawn Colvin, the Eagles' Timothy B. Schmit and legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden.

Starr recorded most of the album, his first collection of new material since 1998's Vertical Man, in his own studio in England with producer Mark Hudson, with a few tracks done at Hudson's Los Angeles' studio. Among the songs included is "Never Without You," Starr's tribute (written with Gary Nicholson and Hudson) to his former Beatles band mate George Harrison. The track is one of two that features Clapton, a friend of Harrison.

"There's a lot of me in these songs," Starr said. "As time goes on, my personality is coming out more and more in the music. That's just what happens. On this album my drumming is more dynamic, I'm more to the front, I think I'm singing better and I believe we're writing better songs."

Starr and his All-Starr Band will tour behind Ringo Rama this summer.