After all, when the Beatles had their all-important Parlophone studio audition on June 6, 1962, Best had nearly blown it for the group, turning in a performance that was, to be kind, erratic (you can hear his goofy performance on the Beatles Anthology 1 boxed set.) The other three, though they could certainly excite a crowd, knew that they needed a solid professional at the drums to make their garage-band front line sound solid - and to avoid blowing a precious record-deal opportunity. They turned to the best drummer they knew: a guy who was already successful in Liverpool, and a Starr in his own right. How weird that so few would understand that Ringo was the most adept musician in the Beatles as they started out.
The primary attribute of a great drummer in rock is his or her sense of time - not just the ability to keep the beat, mind you, but the ability to impart a personality to time itself: a magical thing that happens only very rarely. Ringo's time is downright delicious, and he's easy to spot no matter whose song he's playing on. The groove will always just feel like Ringo, regardless of the circumstances. Very few drummers have this knack; our own Levon Helm comes to mind as one other.
Post-Beatles, Ringo had his share of hits, including "It Don't Come Easy" and "Photograph." His latest album is Liverpool 8, an often-touching musical tour through Ringo's unique career and times, co-produced and co-written by his pal Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. The album's available on CD, as a download and even as a USB-drive wristband.
Ringo's website at www.ringostarr.com tells you a lot about the man. It's a totally unassuming, charming affair featuring almost no Web glitz, but with lots of personal content, including video updates shot and edited, it would seem, by Ringo himself or anyone else he could put up to the job. It's accessible, human and warm, just like the man seems to be. The whole thing is laced with humor and "peace and love" - Ringo's constant mantra.
Back before he joined the Beatles, Ringo did time at the front of the stage, singing and emceeing at clubs and resorts in England; and it's to this role that he has returned in recent years onstage. This summer marks his tenth tour with Ringo Starr's All Starrs, a shifting assemblage of some of the world's favorite rock 'n' roll characters. Out on the road with Ringo now are Colin Hay from Men at Work, Billy Squier, Hamish Stuart from the Average White Band, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright (remember "Dreamweaver"?) and second drummer Greg Bissonette, who has backed up too many heavyweights to mention.
Ringo Starr's All Starrs are performing on June 21 at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel. Since the show is all about fun, expect to hear Ringo's hits as well as his signature tunes from the Beatles, such as "Yellow Submarine," "Octopus's Garden" and "A Little Help from My Friends." You'll also be treated to lots of vocal harmonies and melodic guitar licks from this tight-knit and talented ensemble, with each All Starr getting his own turn in the spotlight. Of course, you'll also have the privilege of being in the same room with a Beatle (stop that shrieking right now).
You can still get tickets at $79, $59, $39 and $29 for reserved lawn seating. Think about arriving early - doors open at 5:30 for the 8 p.m. show - and spending some time at the acclaimed new Museum at Bethel Woods, which is thoughtfully being reserved for Ringo's audience from 1 p.m. onward for the day of the show. You can contact the venue at (845) 454-3388 or visit them online at www.BethelWoodsCenter.org. The box office is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and parking for the show is free.
Dare we say that a splendid time is guaranteed for all?