Interview for RollingStone • Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Being Ringo: A Beatle’s All-Starr Life

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Interview by:
Stephen Rodrick
Read interview on RollingStone
Timeline More from year 2015

Songs mentioned in this interview

Carry That Weight

Officially appears on Abbey Road

The End

Officially appears on Abbey Road

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RollingStone US magazine has Ringo Starr on its cover. The corresponding article contains are a few comments by Paul McCartney:

About Ringo being acerbic at times

There are some things Ringo believes. “If you are on a desert island and you have coconuts, you can survive.” There are some things Ringo can’t answer. Was “Taxman” recorded on four-track or eight-track? “Ask someone who knows. I only know I’m on it.” There are times when Ringo can be quite acerbic. “I was having dinner with him recently in L.A. with Dave Grohl and our wives,” says Paul McCartney. “I know Ringo has been sober for years, so I joked, ‘C’mon, Ringo, have a whiskey.’ Ringo looked at me for a second and says, ‘What, and end up looking like you?’ I deserved it.

About the early days in Liverpool

Paul McCartney: I don’t want to bring in the violins, but we all came from hardship. All of us except for George lost someone. I lost my mum when I was 14. John lost his mum. But Ringo had it worst. His father was gone; he was so sick they told his mum he wasn’t going to live. Imagine making up your life from that, in that environment. No family, no school. He had to invent himself. We all had to come up with a shield, but Ringo came up with the strongest shield.

About Ringo’s induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Starting with his Beatle days, Ringo Starr has always been the mascot of rock & roll. McCartney and Lennon started writing songs for him because everyone found him so adorable. “We wrote the line ‘What would you do if I sang out of tune?’ for him,” says McCartney. “When you think about it, how many people in rock & roll can sing? But Ringo can deliver a song.

Ringo’s image as happy-go-lucky sideman first and rocker second nearly blocked him from entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo act. It started with a dinner between McCartney and Robbie Robertson, when the Band’s guitarist noted Ringo wasn’t in the Hall of Fame on his own. With Beatles manager Brian Epstein being inducted into the nonperformer wing, McCartney thought Ringo’s absence was an egregious oversight.

I said, ‘Let me see what I can do,’ ” says McCartney. “And I talked to Bruce Springsteen and I talked to Dave Grohl, and they both thought he should be in. And I said I’d do the induction. That took care of it.

About the Beatles family

[…] With the deaths of John and George, only Paul and Ringo remain. They have a twisty relationship, sometimes testy, sometimes one they lampoon.

“It’s family,” says McCartney. “Sometimes we get pissed off at each other. I’ll want something from him and he won’t give it to me, and I’ll get pissed off. But then it passes. Brothers fight sometimes. There’s this revisionist history that it was all John and Paul. But it was four corners of a square; it wouldn’t have worked without one of the sides. Ringo was the right angle.”

In 2011, the two shot a comedy video for a British charity where McCartney insists as the only Beatle left he must go on a mission of mercy. At the end, Ringo pops up on a TV screen and says, “What about me?”

“Paul said he’s going to do the Hall of Fame speech,” says Ringo. He then speaks in dry British wit. “I really think I’m doing it just to give Paul a night out. He likes to keep busy.” He pauses before turning serious. “But the other side of that coin is that we would not have made as many records if it hadn’t have been for Paul. John and I lived very close, and we could get lazy. And Paul would call: ‘Hey, lads. Time we went back in the studio.’ So we’ve got to thank him that you’ve got 12 records.”

The SUV pulls into Fort Pierce, but Ringo isn’t done talking about Paul.

“When Stu Sutcliffe left the band, we needed a bass player,” Ringo says. “And John certainly wasn’t going to play bass, and neither was George. So Paul did it. And he played incredible bass. People think, ‘Oh, that’s easy,’ but the bass player and the drummer have to be friends, you know?” […]

About the first Beatles concert with Ringo

Paul McCartney: The first few minutes that Ringo is playing, I look to the left at George and to the right to John, and we didn’t say a word, but I remember thinking, ‘Shit, this is amazing… Look, I love Led Zeppelin, but you watch them playing and you can see them looking back at John Bonham, like, ‘What the hell are you doing — this is the beat.’ You could turn your back on Ringo and never have to worry. He both gave you security and you knew he was going to nail it.

About drum solos

Paul McCartney: I never met a drummer who more hated the drum solos. We had to beg him to do it [on “The End”]. The point where ‘Carry That Weight’ goes into ‘The End,’ I told him it’s a dramatic change in energy and tempo — we need just a few seconds. And he finally agreed to do it. And Ringo was great.


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