Join Date: Oct 13, 2010
Minkin: And you had a different producer for each track…
Starr: Not a different producer, more a different arranger. George Martin produced it. I thought I could either do them rock ‘n’ roll, or do them like they are; they’re standard songs. But I thought to give them a different edge [I’d get different arrangers]. Paul arranged “Stardust.” That was the…it was going to be called “Stardust.” But then Richard Perry’s arrangement of “Sentimental Journey” was so good, and it was a sentimental journey, anyway, so it took on that.
Minkin: In a real sense, you were ahead of what a lot of people have done since. Everybody’s recording old songs now.
Starr: Well that’s the time with being a man in front of yourself. You have to pay.
Minkin: Anyway, moving ahead here to Beaucoups of Blues.
Starr: Yes, we did it so fast. And the thing that was wrong with it, if anything, was that…I’d like to do another country album, because I still like country music. I’m writing more country. There’s one beautiful country track on Ringo the 4th.
Ringo then explained, in our interview, how he got together with the rest of The Beatles and Richard Perry on the Ringo album.
Starr: It just happened. John was there and George was there. So I go to John and said, ’I’m doing an album. Do you got any songs?’ He said, ‘I got one I’ll finish for you.’ He was in the Beverly Hills with his piano. So he finished a song for me. George was there and I said, ‘George, give us a song.’ You know, they’re the writers. And he says, ‘Yeah, I got a song.’ So I say ‘Well come and play.’ And he and John said okay. So we have the one track with John, George and Ringo on it.
Then I thought, well, we’ll get Paul. I’d talked to him as well. I called Paul and I said, ‘You can’t be left out of this. I’ve got John and George is back. I’ve got the other two on it. Have you got any tracks?’ And he says, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a track.’ And I was going to England, so I said, ‘Come on Richard, we’re going to England.’ We went to England and we went into the Apple studio there with Paul to do his track. So that’s how that album got together.
Minkin: So with that album, all four of The Beatles were on it, with three on one track.
Starr: We were like big girls again. We were all looking at each other smiling. We hadn’t played together in four years. I’d played on John’s album, George’s album. This was my first one of those. We were just smiling while we were playing. It was nice.
Minkin: And this was the album that had three huge singles out of it…
Starr: It had “Photograph,” “You’re Sixteen,” and “Oh, My My.”
Minkin: It must have felt real good…
Starr: It was wonderful. At that point it was very good for my head just in the level of the record business because I was always put down as not too much of a record talent. Suddenly we had the number one album. Two numbers ones and one top five.
Minkin: You have definite feelings about singles, don’t you?
Starr: Yes, yes. Then we did Sentimental Journey and the Beaucoups one. I thought I’d just be a singles artist. I don’t want to do albums. I’ll just go and do singles. I wrote “Back Off Boogaloo.” I sat with Marc Bolan one night and he was the original little punk elf gypsy, you know. With the glitter and Bowie and all those people. He came off first. I’m sitting with him and one night he’s all ‘back off,’ and I’m like, ’It’s a boogaloo.’ He’s doing all his back off boogaloo language and I went to bed, as you do occasionally, and when I woke up I had this whole song in my head. [Singing]. And I was like, ’Where’s the tape? Where’s the tape?’ Because I can’t play anything to put it down, and I’ll never remember it. And every tape I had was broken. The batteries were run down. The one you plug in has a fuse missing. And I’m huffing all around the house trying to keep this tune in my head, which is turning into “Mack the Knife” and I’m panicking. So I find batteries and I find this tape and put it down, and that’s how that came about. In 10 minutes I had that whole song. So I did the single with George. It came about, the riff we had—and I still think it’s one of the strongest tracks I ever did—we were doing it and it wasn’t working. And anyone who works in a studio knows that feeling. So George [suggested] a bass drum riff. Then I started doing it on the snare drum and the whole track just fell together. Before that it was a bit too light.
Minkin: Then, of course, we get to Goodnight Vienna, which gave us “The No No Song.”
Starr: Which was another magical experience with Hoyt Axton. Love the song. Love what it was doing. It was such a good song for me. Real, but comedy. Good lyric, good attitude. Makes no sense. Good song for me.
Also, what we must never forget to mention is that on the Ringo album and on Goodnight Vienna and every other album ever since, the guy I work with, Vini Poncia, who I write with. On the new album we wrote more than we’ve ever written because we’re getting to know each other better. So Vini was working with Richard or Richard with Vini, and he put us both together, which was probably the greatest thing he ever did in my musical career. Richard, thank you.
It’s time for a change, I think, you know. You can’t get Arif [Mardin] to produce you unless you sign to Atlantic, which is not the reason why we signed. We met Arif, he came to London for five hour to have a chat, and at the end I said, ’I’d like to work with you,’ and he said, ‘Well, I’d like to work with you.’ I made him come to L.A. and we were still getting to know each other in a way, in a way, and he didn’t know the players. It turned out fine. This new one, Ringo the 4th, it’s us knowing each other better and me coming to New York, which was most amazing because I hadn’t been for four years. To be thrown into the middle of this band where I didn’t know any of the players. I hadn’t played with any of them… There’s a lot of adrenaline in New York. New York is totally different from L.A., as everyone knows, unless you live in Wisconsin. No offense, Wisconsin. In L.A… There’s not much I can say about Rotogravure. It was a nice meeting place for Arif and I. The change of label. It was time for me to move on, that’s what it was.
Minkin: Well in my opinion, there are two great tracks on Rotogravure: “Hey! Baby” and “A Dose of Rock & Roll.”
Starr: I know! But you see, I had complete faith… You talk about picking singles. I thought “Dose of Rock ‘N’ Roll” could not fail, and “Hey! Baby,” I mean, are you kidding. And they did nothing. I’m too crazy now. People beg for things to get to the Top 40. I get annoyed if it’s not number one. If I put a single out I want it to be number one.
Minkin: Number three is no good?
Starr: Number three is okay, but it’s not number one. I want number one because that’s the game. I’m not going out there to be forty-ninth. If I wanted to do that I’d do something else. When I put it out I want it to be number one, otherwise there’s no point. I’m pleased you liked those two tracks, because I loved them. I could not believe why they didn’t do it. Just something which why I like the rock ‘n’ roll game, because you don’t know. After all these years I don’t know what a number one is. I think I know, and I put the records out and it ends up they’re not. Something happens. I don’t know.
Minkin: Now on the new album, I’m told, is going to be a great old song, “Drowning in the Sea of Love.”
Starr: It was a single. We’ve got other singles on there. One is “Wings,” which stands a good chance, I feel. It’s one Vini and I wrote. We had the meeting at Atlantic and they’re saying you’ve got to push the album and all that. The economics of the situation.
Minkin: Are you happy with the album?
Starr: This album I’m very happy with. This album more than Rotogravure. I think it’s stronger because Vini and I wrote six tracks. I know those songs better.
Minkin: I have one last obligatory question. If I didn’t ask you they would stone me.
Starr: Well we’re not getting together.