10 Questions for Ringo Starr
Friday, Dec. 14, 2007
By CATHERINE MAYER, Time Magazine
Ringo Starr (Pal C. Hansen for TIME)
Like each of his ex–Fab Four bandmates, the former drummer for the Beatles has become an accomplished solo artist. His new album, Liverpool 8, comes out on Jan. 15. Ringo Starr will now take your questions
The Beatles made you famous. What would your life have been like without them? —Ken Reed, Moncton, Canada
I truly believe that I would have still been a musician, because it was such a love. I probably would have been drumming in some club somewhere, but who knows?
What do you miss about John Lennon and George Harrison? —Curtis Baker, Sagerton, Texas
Friendship. Hanging out. Working together. The love—I miss that. We were brothers. It was like losing brothers.
What are the odds that you and Paul McCartney will appear together onstage again? —Martha Daniels, Corpus Christi, Texas
You have had a successful solo career. Which album are you most proud of? —Beth Hahn, Waco, Texas
Liverpool 8. It's always the new one—like the new baby. But Ringo was a huge album for me. Choose Love too. I could go down the line.
Did John and Paul give you drumming directions, or were you able to experiment? —Scott Peterson Minneapolis
No, a song has a certain format. John always wanted two drummers, and I kept pointing out that it was just me. He would say, "Do that," and I [would say], "But they've got two drummers on that song, John." I'm blessed that I did have songwriters who had a specific way, but if I changed it my way, they went along with that too.
How would you describe your drumming style? —Terry Matlen birmingham, Mich.
I was blessed with great timing. The other blessing that makes my drumming individual is that I was born left-handed. But my grandmother turned me into a right-handed person. So, I'm actually ambidextrous. If I throw anything, play cricket or golf, it's done left-handed, but I write and cut with my right hand. I'm a weird, handy guy. That makes my style really personal.
How has the music industry changed over the past 40 years? —Ben Rush, Lincoln, Neb.
If you are in a band, it hasn't changed at all. In the end, the music industry is still musicians playing music. If it has changed in any way, it is that nobody who really cares about music is running the industry. In the '80s, accountants ended up running it, and they still are. The record industry has fallen apart. But we are on to the new age, a digital one, where anyone can download. Radiohead—how great! How much do you want to pay? That's a huge change. God bless them.
Why do you think Britain has been a hotbed of talent for rock 'n' roll over the decades? —Michael Diaz, New York City
[Rock] came from America and [with] the Beatles, it started going back there. Now, the problem is that a lot of [British] bands are trying to conquer America, but America has [good] bands already. When we came out, we were this big, crazy pop band with these weird haircuts—which really weren't that weird, but that is what they said. We got lucky.
You often have guest artists join you in the studio. Who was the most memorable? —Melissa Madsen, Munster, Ind.
Hoyt Axton was one of them on the Ringo album. We were doing the No No Song with the biggest spliff and a large bottle of Jack Daniel's. On the last albums, I've brought in Robert Randolph—how great is that?—Willie Nelson, the other end of that scale, and Tom Petty. I could go on. I don't ask them to be on because of their name. I ask them because I love them as musicians and because they are relevant to the track.
Are you still a mocker—a fusion of mod and rocker? —Robert Soares, New York City
We were always pop. "I'm a mocker"—that was one of the lines in A Hard Day's Night. I'm a popper now.
Hear the interview on iTunes podcast: http://sonibyte.com/audio/5302.mp3