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Ringo Starr Interview: Beatles Legend Almost Moved to Texas at 19, Orders the Rolling Stones to Tour for 50th Anniversary
- Posted on Feb 1st 2012 1:36PM by Dan Reilly
Full of laughter and warmth, the 71-year-old Starr told us how he's able to maintain his "peace and love" message, why the Rolling Stones should be out touring in support of their 50th anniversary and how, at the age of 19, he tried to move to Houston, a decision that might have completely altered rock 'n' roll history.
'Ringo 2012' sounds a bit nostalgic at times. Is there a period of your life, whether it's pre-Beatles, during or after the Beatles that you're most nostalgic for?
Well, no, I don't think it feels nostalgic. I can see it coming off as nostalgic because I re-cover two of my songs and maybe that's why, but it really doesn't feel nostalgic to me.
It seemed the song 'In Liverpool' had that kind of vibe.
Oh, yeah. That I understand because that's what I'm doing on the last three CDs, from 'Liverpool 8' to 'Why Not' to this one. Instead of writing an autobiography, I want to do it in little song vignettes and that's what I'm doing. [Starting with] 'Liverpool 8,' I promised to do a Liverpool song on every album I make from now on and so far, it's working out.
Do you often think about where you'd be if you'd never left Liverpool, or maybe left but didn't join a band?
Yeah, [musician] Ray Wylie Hubbard's a friend of mine and we were hanging out and we were talking about Lightnin' Hopkins -- they just had a big day for him in Houston. He's my blues hero and I actually tried to emigrate to Houston when I was 19 to get a job in a factory because I wanted to be near my hero. So who knows what my life would have been now? You can't really look at "if this ever happened or that ever happened." You just have to go with where you're at.
You're always out there spreading your "peace and love" message. Does that ever get difficult to keep up, like when you did it on the anniversary of John's murder?
No, it's never hard to keep that message up. It's never hard to spend a couple seconds of your life doing the peace and love hand. I don't find it hard at all. What I do find crazy is being shot down in certain articles for doing that. You think, "Well, I'm only saying 'peace and love.'" It bothers some people. I've just got to get over that. My dream still is that one minute, one day, one month, one year, I don't know when, that the whole world will put their hands up and go, "Peace and love!"
There's a lot of talk about the Rolling Stones doing a 50th anniversary tour, but they're having some semi-public squabbles about it. How do you feel about that, given the fact that you and Paul will never have that opportunity?
I hope they put it together and I hope they do a world tour. We all should be out there. If we can play, we should be out there playing, and that's the deal. My new attitude is "as long as I can hold the sticks, I can play." And you may have noticed that in the last several years, I'm playing live more and more. I'm putting records out more and more. Let's keep playing! That's how it is. Our new hero is B.B. King. I say, "Look at B.B. King. He's 86, but he's still playing. He might be sitting down, but hey, I'm sitting down already" [laughs]. I was talking to Billy Squier yesterday and I said, "Bill, just get out there and play. This is what we do."
I only advise everybody to get out there and play and I hope the Rolling Stones pull it together and I hope Keith and Mick pull it together and stop squabbling and get out there and do it -- says Ringo!
Talking about bandmates, you and Paul have new albums coming out at around the same time. Is there any rivalry there?
No. In all honesty, we had dinner just after Christmas together and I didn't know he had one coming out. I didn't know that it was going to come out within weeks of each other. No, there's no rivalry. Paul is Paul, Ringo is Ringo and this is what we do. We don't phone each other and say, "You can't bring your record out because I've got one!" We live our lives, we make our music and pick a release date. This was the date we picked and that's just how it is.
As far as album titles go, 'Ringo 2012' sounds like an action movie whereas Paul's 'Kisses on the Bottom' sounds a bit, well, cheeky.
It is cheeky. It comes from something Fats Waller said. It's his CD of standards. I did 'Sentimental Journey' all those years ago and this is his version of that with the music he heard from his dad and his family. I've only heard one track and he's singing beautifully.