Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney recording together as drummer says ‘I love the man’

In his Los Angeles recording studio Ringo Starr has drums set up just like the Ludwig kit he used with the Fab Four, with the Beatle still recording with Sir Paul McCartney from time to time.

There have been many a hard day’s night, when he was working like a dog, but Ringo Starr still loves playing the drums.

The man who put the beat into the Beatles decades ago still gets a kick out of making music and playing gigs. And Sir Ringo’s lust for life and positive outlook is undimmed, even as he approaches his 84th birthday in July.

In his Los Angeles recording studio he has drums set up just like the Ludwig kit he used with the Fab Four. Smiling Ringo says: “The thrill is hitting those drums. I have a passion for playing. My heart swells when I look at my kit, you know, I still love them. I’m still using them all these years later.

“I’m a drummer so I need a band in front of me. I get to play with a lot of good players. I play all the songs and they play mine. I still do it because I love it. And I still do it because I can.”

Ringo is chatting on Zoom from his home studio, which used to be a guest house. “The room the drums are in was the bedroom, what was great was we set up the kit and we get a great sound. It’s 15 or 16ft square, it’s not big but you can plug in [guitars] directly and there’s a little kitchen cos it was a guest house.

“So we can have a cup of tea or coffee and carry on with our work. If you play the last four EPs you’ll see what sort of sound we get.”

Ringo has been busy releasing new music and at the end of May a new EP, Crooked Boy, featuring four new songs written and produced by Songwriters Hall of Fame star Linda Perry, will be out on vinyl and CD.

He loves the ease with which demos and parts of tracks can be shared and sent around the world from his home these days. But he does have one demand for new songs, which is in keeping with his peaceful and positive outlook on life.

He says: “In the last verse there’s gotta be at least a glint of sunlight, a break in there that it can be lovable. I like to give positivity of, you know peace and love, love and respect in all the songs.

“If you’re writing me a song, it can be a downer but it’s got to have some up. So the world’s gone mad, the grass won’t grow but there’s a flower in the corner. I don’t want it to stay down.”

Crooked Boy is mini album, and after that he will release some new country music, a genre he has adored since first hearing it growing up in Dingle, Liverpool.

“I’ve loved country since I was a lad, it was great loving country music in Liverpool because it’s a port and a lot of the guys in Liverpool – and I was nearly one of them – joined the merchant navy to go and see places. They’d come back from America with records. When the four of us finally became the Beatles we’d all really been listening to the same stuff which was great, from Buddy Holly on.”

Fellow Beatle Sir Paul McCartney appears on one of his new songs. Ringo says: “It was great, it’s always great. I love it. I’ve done about 10 fully-fledged CDs in this room and Paul is on four of them, if he’s in town I say bring your bass over, I’ve got a track.

“It’s better when we’re in the room, he’s an incredible bass player, ­incredible guy and he has a big heart – and now I’ve found out he’s had a camera all these years.”

Ringo’s voice wavers ever so slightly with emotion as he says: “We were so close together in 1964, really the only thing we could take photos of was each other. It’s always great to work with Paul, I love the man and he’s my friend.”

Calling Paul a friend may be an understatement. With the deaths of John Lennon in 1980 and George Harrison in 2001, Ringo and Paul are the only survivors of the Fab Four. The band lived like brothers and shared an amazing bond as their music made them some of the most famous faces on the planet in the 60s.

Beatlemania erupted as they toured the UK with early albums such as Please Please Me, and A Hard Day’s Night. They became one of the most influential and best selling bands ever and also appeared in two major films, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!

Ringo usually sang on one track on each album, most notably Yellow Submarine and With a Little Help from My Friends. But being recognised everywhere has not put him off heading back out on the road. His All Starr Band tour of the US, Canada and Mexico starts this month and he is in great shape.

“Most days I feel good. I workout, I watch what I eat. I’m on the road, I’m making a record, I keep busy so most of the time I’m in a good space.”

He still enjoys singing classics like Beatles tracks, but fans going along to shows shouldn’t expect to hear the new EP.

“I’m not playing it live. I used to say we are doing something from the new EP and thank the five of them that bought it. Ha ha! It may get put in later but not in the first section of the tour.

“People are coming to hear the All Starrs, to hear Steve Lukather doing Toto [songs from band Toto]. Doing the hits from the bands, that is what it is all about. You hear a lot of songs you really love. It’d be funny to go on there and not do With a Little Help from My Friends, so I do it cos I know they love it.”

As the Zoom call comes to an end, Ringo talks about the “fear” over ­artificial intelligence in music. He jokes they could use it so he could sing opera.

But he says it helped Beatles fan and film director Peter Jackson extract John’s voice from an old demo to create the group’s final song, Now and Then, released in November. “So we have to thank it for that. But I know there’s a lot of fear out there that it’ll steal your soul. But I won’t steal anybody’s soul.”

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