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Old Aug 28, 2012, 07:44 PM   #1
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Default Ringo Interview from the vault...1977.

the Vault
Ringo Starr, 1977
By Paste News

As a member of the Wolfgang’s Vault family, Paste has access to a rich archive of historic audio interviews from a variety of sources. Many of these interviews have never existed in text form. Our From the Vault series will publish a different interview each week from our favorite rock ’n’ roll icons. This week’s subject is Ringo Starr.

Recorded just as Ringo the 4th, his sixth solo album, was to be released, Starr’s initial post-Beatles commercial success had already peaked by the time of this interview. However, he and host Bill Minkin take a logical, sequential approach leading up to that album, covering his days in The Beatles as well as each of his solo projects through the early 1970s. With a thunderstorm raging in the background and Ringo drinking and eating throughout the course of this talk, this is a wonderful opportunity to get personal with one of the Fab Four.

Bill Minkin: What happened after Brian Epstein passed away?

Ringo Starr: Paul answered the phone, told us and disappeared. Paul just disappeared.

Minkin: He told you the news then left the house?

Starr: Yeah, he left the planet for a while. I mean, we were all just stunned. We didn’t know what to do. We’d sign toilet paper for Brian. We didn’t know what we were into, but that didn’t matter. It was Brian, for Christ’s sake. He’d been with us all the way and we all loved him. Everyone felt close to him. He lived above George and I for a period. You don’t do anything, you know. We all got back to London and we just wandered around for a while.

Minkin: Were there meeting about what to do?

Starr: Well yes, because we were a monster act. Even Brian’s death would not let us slow down. That was one of the strangest periods, because you want to stop for a while, but you couldn’t. And who’s looking after it? We are? We were just players, you know.

Minkin: Was there anyone who stepped in for a while and took you through the transition?

Starr: Peter Brown was probably the closest, but he was going through his turmoil as well.

Minkin: Did any of the four of you emerge as an organizer or someone who kept it together at that point?

Starr: No. Not right at that point. So Brian being dead or not, we had to figure out what we were going to do with our lives. What was happening? We were all just in terrible, terrible [shape]. We didn’t know what to do.

Minkin: It never really did get together, in terms of the whole management thing, since Brian’s death, did it?

Starr: No. We thought we would show them. It was a lot of flower power and grass and acid in those days. Even we have to beg. We have to beg to get on a label. George Martin, bless his soul, took a chance on us. Brian hawked those tapes around and Decca turned us down. But of course, EMI turned Elvis down, so that all went on. Then George Martin said, ‘Well I’ll do a record with them.’ He didn’t like me, of course. He wanted a professional drummer. Mainly because when we did the run through for “Please, Please Me,” I was doing tambourine in one hand, maraca in the other and the bass drum and the high hat. This mad thing, trying to shake and hit the cymbals with the maraca. I would smash this big cymbal with a maraca. And George is looking at me going, ‘Oh, yes? We’ve got a mad person here.’ That’s why he brought in Andy White, anyway.

Minkin: So all of the drums on “Please, Please Me” are not you?

Starr: “Please, Please Me” is all me. “Love Me Do” is not me. “Love Me Do” on the single is Andy White and on the album is me. It’s a very simple song, you know. I can do it. But George didn’t want it at the time. He was insecure. He wanted to fit in a real player. But it was one of the dumbest things we ever did. He was on the single, I was on the album.

Minkin: There is one particular Beatle album I want to talk about and then we’ll move on.

Starr: Well do you want to know why I’m called Ringo Starr?

Minkin: I do want to know why you’re called Ringo Starr. Let’s say it now. When did Richard Starkey become Ringo Starr?

Starr: Rory Storm and the Hurricanes got the first job at Butlins. We all went there, and in Liverpoool they call your names and I was being called “Rings” because I had three rings on then. They just give you nicknames. So we went to Butlins and said, ‘Well let’s change our names. We’ve gone professional now.’ So we had Johnny Guitar, Ty O’Brien, Lou Walters. We all took cowboy names. We were all English so we wanted to be cowboys. And I took Ringo Starkey and I said ‘Oh, that’s no good.’ So I just cut it off and ended up with Ringo Starr.

Minkin: June 2, 1977. The tenth anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper. June 2, 1967, the album’s released. It’s a landmark album in popular music. What I want to know is if when you were making the album with George Martin, if you knew you were doing something different. Was it just like another album?

Starr: No, it was different for us, but it wasn’t as different as how we started. When we started, the concept was a live show, but it fell apart after track two when we got back to just making tracks. Also, then it got into—it was probably the height of all the overdubs.

Minkin: And all done on four tracks…

Starr: Yes, four tracks. Four to four to four to four to four. They were good engineers at EMI. They kept that quality up. Tape to tape, we lost very little. For me personally, it is a landmark album. None of us can hide from that. But it’s not my fave, because we were using each other in a way, and being used. You’d have all the strings. I felt more like we were doing sessions than when we did the White Album where we were back being a band again. And Abbey Road, which is my favorite.

Minkin: But the Sgt. Pepper album. Not only the concept of the record but the sound was unlike any music that had been made before, Beatles otherwise.

Starr: It was like a special project, I think.

Minkin: It’s interesting to me that you mention that with the White Album you were back to being a band again, because I was always under the impression that with the White Album you weren’t all working on each track.

Starr: I left on the White Album. It’s like a total reversal when I say that. I left on the White Album because I didn’t think that we were getting on. I thought that those there were having such a good time and that I was just out of it here. I don’t know. I’m not playing well. Nobody loves me. It’s terrible. And so I thought, I’ll leave. That’s what I’ll do. That took me a few nights, I’ll tell you.

Minkin: You mean leave the studio?

Starr: Leave the band. I’d stay awake for a couple of nights. It was probably just paranoia at the time. But I said, ’I’m leaving. I’m just not happy. Why should I stay here?’ So I went round, it was real funny, I went round and knocked on Paul’s door. I said, ‘Paul, you three are all happy together and I feel like I’m not with you.’ He said, ‘I thought it was you three!’ I still carried on. I thought, ‘No, no, he has to be crazy.’ So I went round to John. He had just started with Yoko, really. They were in Montague Square. I went round I said, ‘John you three…I feel like I’m so out of it. I’m not with you anymore.’ He says, ‘I thought it was you three!’ So I just said, ’I’m going to Sardinia for two weeks and then I’ll come back.’ I just went away. I felt like if it was that much madness that we had to stop. They carried on and Paul did “U.S.S.R.” in the studio, he played drums on that. Then I came back after two weeks. George was very good. He had the whole place done in flowers: “Welcome Back.” It was wonderful coming back.

Minkin: When The Beatles decided to stop recording together was it a real tough period? There’s got to be a kind of crash after such a high.

Starr: You know as well as I do that it was. I had nothing to do. I sat there. We’d all decided, which was fine, but then I was like, ‘What should I do?’ I wasn’t writing too many things, so I just thought I’d sit round for a while. I sat round not only consciously saying that I’d sit round, I sat round, confused, saying ‘What will I do? I don’t know, I’ll sit in the garden today; it’s a nice day.’ It’s one of those things where you think it may go away, but it never does. It comes back. You do that for periods of your life and think, ‘Oh, I can’t get into this.’

Then I said, ‘Oh well I can’t sit here all me life. I’ve got to get off my horse and do something, you know. I’ll do Sentimental Journey.’ Which was the album I did. It was all old songs, standards of the old songs I remembered and loved from the parties when they used to let me play me bass drum. “Night and Day,” “Stardust,” “Sentimental Journey.”

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