At a time when live music remains off the menu amid strict and safe social distancing measures, we’re dipping into the Far Out Vault in a bid to revisit some of the all-time greats. Here, we look at former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr looking back at the past while sitting with a moment of the future. Joined by his colleagues, the All-Starr Band, the Liverpudlian discussed the music which shaped the drummer’s career by listing their favourite Beatles albums.
Since The Beatles split in 1970, Starr has gone on to forge himself a prolific solo career which was backed up by the release of his 20th studio album, What’s My Name, just last year. In 1990, the former Beatles drummer created Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, a supergroup with an ever-changing line-up but consistently fronted by Starr himself.
The band, who play a mix of Starr’s solo material and old Beatles hits, still continue to tour today — when a global health crisis isn’t standing in their way, of course. With a revolving door of members who make up the group on a tour-by-tour basis, the band rarely conduct wide-ranging interviews. However, they did sit down with Rock Cellar Magazine a couple of years ago to detail some of their favourite Beatles records.
In what must have been a slightly unusual situation for Starr to discuss his former work with his new band, the drummer kicked things off when he said; “For me, that would be the second side of Abbey Road,” in a very specific reflection. “That one is my favourite because I just love all those bits and pieces that weren’t full songs that John and Paul had been working on and pulled all together — ‘Mean Mr. Mustard,’ ‘Polythene Pam,’ and ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.'”
Steve Lukather, who is still the current guitarist of the All-Starr band but is arguably best known as the sole continuous founding member of the rock band Toto, added: “Meet the Beatles — that was the life changer for me, with the song ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. “It was George’s solo — well, everything really. My father had bought that album for me when I was seven, and I wore that record out. It was the ‘on’ switch to my life, and every song was magic. The sound was otherworldly to me, as if something from another place and time came to touch me.”
“I’d have to say A Hard Day’s Night,” drummer Gregg Bissonette, who has been with the All-Starr band since 2008 but is primarily known being part of the David Lee Roth band, chipped in. “I was seven-years-old at the time, and it was the first time I heard The Beatles.”
He added: “I remember going to the drive-in movies and seeing A Hard Day’s Night and hearing songs like ‘Can’t Buy Me Love,’ ‘You Can’t Do That,’ and ‘Any Time at All.'”
Mark Rivera, the acclaimed saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with Billy Joel, offered his opinion quite emphatically: “Revolver, no question. I absolutely love Revolver. I love all the Beatles albums — as I like to call them, because they were albums — but that one in particular because when engineer Geoff Emerick started the recording, he just totally went against the grain.”
Turning the tide slightly, bass player Richard Page, who has since moved on to pastures new, admitted: “Lemme tell you, I wasn’t a huge Beatles fan in the beginning,” which may suggest why the lead singer and bassist of 1980s band Mr. Mister is no longer touring with Starr. “All that changed when I discovered Revolver, and then I really, really got what they were all about. That album blew my mind because it was so intricate and so interesting lyrically and compositionally,” he added.
Keyboard player Gregg Rolie wasn’t playing ball with the direction of the question, however, and struggling to pick out one distinctive favourite. After naming Revolver, Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper’s, he said: “Man, there are so many of them that would be hard to choose just one. “I can’t pick just one album, because their whole career was brilliant, and to think that it actually happened over the period of nine years—all that music was created. I’ve never seen anything so prolific as that.”