Ringo Starr has always been a hard man to pin down. Whether that be as a musician, actor or otherwise, one would posit that Starr is perhaps the most chameleonic of all The Beatles and the one who is most prone to throwing up creative surprises.
As well as being the drummer of the most iconic band of all time, he’s also fronted the All-Starr Band, starred in spaghetti westerns and even narrated the first series of Thomas the Tank Engine. Together, these three examples show his dynamic and versatile persona.
Probably the most active member of the Beatles in their heyday and today, popping up with no end of crazy anecdotes from the “classic rock” period, Starr’s life, both musically and otherwise, has always been a fast one and this is a trend that shows no sign of abating.
He is set to release his new EP Change The World later this year. Following on from March’s Zoom In EP, the new record will be a collaboration with a host of Starr’s musical friends. The lead single from the new four-track offering, ‘Let’s Change the World’, was written by Toto legends Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams. The new EP also features takes from icons such as Joe Walsh and Linda Perry.
“Though I’m making the EP for me, I get to play with all of these different people and have a lot of fun,” Starr said of the collection. “I’m not here to be tortured. I’m here to have fun and play with good musicians and hang. That’s what it is.”
Furthermore, in the press conference promoting the new record, Starr took us back down memory lane when remembering his late friend and Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, who sadly passed away on 24th August this year.
When asked a question about how he remembered the iconic drummer, Starr said “Charlie was a great guy, a lot of fun”. In his typical sardonic humour, Starr hilariously quipped that Watts “had a harder band than me to keep together”.
He then described his relationship with The Stones’ rhythmic lynchpin. He explained that “Me and charlie liked to hang out” and that they used to live “close” to each other in London. Orbiting in the same social circle, often in the ’60s and ’70s they’d find themselves at the same “dinner or a gig”.
Then, Ringo took us back to the ’70s, the heady times where “classic rock” was in its supremacy. The Beatles had already split up, but the Big-Bang impact they had on music was being felt all across the globe. They had unleashed the tsunami of popular rock ‘n’ roll unto the world, with indelible effects.
This was a time characterised by the perennial shoulder-rubbing of the stars, which was something we touched upon at the inception, and that Ringo was a dab hand at. Around this time, he featured on Harry Nilsson and John Lennon’s 1974 album Pussy Cats, became friends with The Who’s Keith Moon: “We weren’t musicians dabbling in drugs and alcohol; now we were junkies dabbling in music”, and even featured on the line up for George Harrison’s iconic Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.
However, this particular anecdote comes from a house party that Starr hosted, at an unspecified date and location in the ’70s. The story involves not two but three of history’s most iconic drummers. The image of Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts and Led Zeppelin’s drumming beast, John Bonham all hanging out delivers a tableau of the holy trinity of percussion.
Starr recalled: “I had a party in the ’70s, and I had a drum kit up in the attic, it was like a cinema attic… whatever you wanna do up there, and Charlie came, and so did John Bohnam. So we’ve got three drummers just hanging out. And Bonham got on the kit.”
He continued: “But’s it not like on a stage where you nail them down so that they’re steady; as he was playing, the bass drum was hopping away from him. You had Charlie Watts and Ringo holding the bass drum for him as he played. You think ‘Ah man!’ that would have been a great little video, TikTok or a photo that have gone worldwide.”
Imagine, it’s such a shame that no footage or photo evidence exists from that moment. What a rare image that would have been. Three of the most celebrated drummers of all time, hanging out and having to deal with some very human logistical problems. The thought of Starr and Watts desperately trying to hold the bass drum in place while Bonham goes for it is nothing short of incredible. Starr then revealed why no footage exists: “In the ’70s, I had party’s but you’ll never find any photos because I wouldn’t let you take photos, because it was in my house.” He then reasserted his opinion that “I always think that would have been a great shot to have.”
Starr concluded by saying: “We will miss Charlie, he was a beautiful human being.” The ex-Beatles drummer’s anecdote is one that has reignited emotions in everybody. If only that rhythmic triumvirate had seen the light of day, it would have been iconic. Surely it would have ranked highly with the picture of Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire or Keith Moon’s Lincoln Continental in the swimming pool.
Here’s to hoping that Starr will be kind enough to reveal more of these anecdotes in future.
Listen to ‘Let’s Change the World’ below.