Home News Ringo Starr talks candidly: ‘I’m giving away all the secrets here!’

Ringo Starr talks candidly: ‘I’m giving away all the secrets here!’

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By George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Ringo Starr is on the phone from Las Vegas and he’s got lots of fab things to talk about, including some that have been largely kept under wraps.

“I’m giving away all the secrets here!” said Starr, who has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of The Beatles.

Simultaneously thoughtful and animated, the illustrious drummer, vocalist and bandleader happily discussed a number of topics. They included his upcoming country album with “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” music mastermind T Bone Burnett; a possible new Beatles’ project with Oscar-winning film director Peter Jackson; and the yet-to-be-determined future of “The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil,” which on July 6 will conclude its 18-year run at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

And there’s more.

On May 31, Starr released his fifth EP since 2021. Entitled “Crooked Boy,” the four-song release is a collaboration with former San Diego singer-songwriter Linda Perry, the former leader of the band 4 Non Blondes. His eighth book, “Beats & Threads: Fashion of a Beatle,” was published in November. Proceeds from the limited-edition book go to the Lotus Foundation, the charity that Starr and his wife, Barbara Bach, founded to aid economically challenged families, children and the elderly.

Before his interviewer could pose a single question, however, Starr had something he was eager to trumpet. He and his All Starr Band today are announcing two new Southern California performances as part of their 2024 tour.

The first is Sept. 7 at San Diego’s Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. The second is Sept. 8 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Tickets for the Humphreys show go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at humphreysconcerts.com.

‘A special venue for me’

“Great news! We’re coming back to Humphreys, brother!” said Starr, who has regularly performed there since 1995. “It is a special venue for me.”

A longtime Beverly Hills resident, Starr will turn 84 on July 7. His recording and performing schedule indicate he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

The All Starr Band’s 2024 spring tour opened May 22 at The Venetian in Las Vegas and includes concerts Wednesday and Thursday at Mexico City’s Auditorio Nacional. Their fall tour will open with the Sept. 7 San Diego show at Humphreys. It will conclude with a Sept. 25 date at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

The band’s lineup features Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Men At Work leader Colin Hay, Average White Band mainstay Hamish Stuart, saxophonist, flutist and keyboardist Warren Ham, and former Maynard Ferguson/David Lee Roth drummer Gregg Bissonette.

Edgar Winter, a longtime All Star member, has been sitting out the spring tour due to illness. He is expected to rejoin the band in time for its Sept. 7 San Diego gig at Humphreys. Winter’s spot is temporarily being filled by Aerosmith touring keyboardist and guitarist Buck Johnson.

Starr spoke with the San Diego Union-Tribune on May 31. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: In our interview last year, you told me the Greek Theatre is your favorite place to play. Is Humphreys a close second?

A: Yeah. I do love the Greek — because I get to go home after the show! I love the sound and the people who are there to (provide) support. But Humphreys is a special venue for me. I’ve always loved it. At times they’ve tried to put me in other venues down there in San Diego, and I’ve said: “No. I play at Humphreys.”

Q: Do you have a special message for the “boat people” who watch your shows at Humphreys for free from the adjacent marina?

A: Oh, yes: “You tight bastards — buy a ticket!” Ha ha ha ha!

Q: Your recent collaborator, Linda Perry, used to live in San Diego. What do you like most about working with her?

A: Oh, she’s great … She’s a great writer, she’s fun to be with. You know, we just get on. I mean, doing the EPs, I’ve been calling people that I’ve never worked with, just to (have a) change … I thought: “Well, I’m gonna work with people I don’t know.”

I didn’t know Linda. I mean, I knew about her, but I didn’t know her. I gave her a call and she gave me a song, and it was really great. Then she said: “When are you gonna let me do an EP (with) you?” And I said, “Great,” and that’s what she did. She called it “Crooked Boy,” and they used a very nice photo of me on the cover.

Q: The great bassist Nathan East is from San Diego. He told me that — beyond admiring you as a musician and a person — he is impressed that you phone him personally when you want him to do a recording session.

A: Yeah, well, that’s what I do, you know? I call and say: “Hi. I’m doing this (record). If you’d like to join in, it would be great!” I mean, with Nathan, we’ve come to a place now where I only call him when I want bass on (at least) three tunes, because he does them all in half an hour! So, I don’t call him right away. I wait ‘till we’ve got a couple of songs for him to record on, not just one, because he is such a fine bass player.

Q: He certainly is. There are a few points during each All Star Band concert where you go offstage while one of your band mates is doing a song. I’m curious: What are you doing offstage during that time when you’re not up there with the band?

A: I’m having a cup of tea.

Q: Really?

A: No, not really! I’m just saying that now. When I’m off stage, I’m just having a break and letting the band run with it. I mean, it depends. When I started the All Starr Band (in 1989), I would invite (the members) to sing one of their songs, just by themselves if they wanted … When I take a break during a show, the band’s still there (on stage), it’s still rocking, (and) somebody gets a chance to do a song of theirs where it’s just the band, because it’s so good, instead of the spotlight just being on me.

Q: In 1970 you released your first country-music album, “Beaucoups of Blues,” which you recorded in Nashville with Pete Drake and a bunch of other great players. Now, you’re coming full circle and doing a new country album with T Bone Burnett. How did that come about and how is it shaping up?

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