Ringo and his All Starr Band: Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Ringo Starr, Gregg Rolie, Gregg Bissonette and Warren Ham. They’ll perform Nov. 11 at the Fox Theatre.
Ringo calls from his hotel room amid the neon bling and bustle of Las Vegas, a Liverpudlian accent still peppering that unmistakable voice. Fresh off of rehearsal, Ringo readies for something he doesn’t have to do: tour.
“Every time I put a band together and we talk to the press, they say, ‘You want to tour? You’re still playing?’” Ringo said. “And I say, ‘Yep, because that’s what I do. I’m not an electrician.’”
“Ringo is the archetype of a great pop-rock drummer,” said Atlanta musician and producer Robert Schneider of psychedelic rockers the Apples in Stereo. “To me, he represents drumming perfection: heavy, groovy and solid, yet a little wild and not overly technical.”
Bill King, editor and publisher of the Atlanta-based Beatlefan magazine, calls him “one of the most influential drummers ever.”
Ringo, with his All Starr Band in tow, will display that influence Nov. 11 at the Fox Theatre. Known to have an enduring affection for the city, Ringo even invested in a downtown Atlanta eatery, the now-defunct London Brasserie, in the late 1980s.
His favorite ATL haunt today? “The Container Store,” he quipped. “That’s the place for me, brother. I need to contain myself, it seems.”
Fatefully, Ringo and company were booked to start their current tour in Las Vegas months in advance of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. A lone shooter took the lives of 59 people, including himself, and injured more than 500 others.
When recalling watching the event play out on television, Starr pauses with muted emotion. “Every time it comes up, I get a tear in my eye that so many went down,” Starr said. “Fifty-nine families have a lot to deal with, and all of those people who were wounded. … It’s hard to deal with it in your mind.”
The day after the tragedy, Starr was scheduled for a business meeting in Vegas ahead of an eight-night residency at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino set to begin less than two weeks later.“It was a big decision to go or not,” he said. “I decided, ‘Let’s go. Let’s not let it stop our lives. We’ve got to carry on.’”
Then in the midst of the meeting, someone broke the news to Ringo that his close friend and collaborator, musician Tom Petty, had died. Trudging forward, Starr made it through the meeting and kept the tour launch date on the books for Oct. 13 in Vegas.
On Oct. 12, Starr and wife Barbara Bach donated $100,000 through their Lotus Foundation to the Nevada Resort Association’s Vegas Strong Fund. The latter benefits those impacted by the Vegas shooting.
“And here we are,” Starr said. “The dream is still unfolding.” “Over the years, we’ve really gotten to know each other,” Starr explained. “We know where each other is heading. Once we get the harmonies right, we’re off (and running).”
Despite the fact he could easily dominate the stage himself for the entirety of a show, Starr opts for the communal experience of making music with others, allowing all involved a chance to shine.
“He likes getting to play to other peoples’ numbers,” said King. “As he says, all he ever wanted to be was a drummer. To him, the fact that he still gets to do that is the ultimate payoff. He’s spent his life doing what he wanted to do, which is play drums.”
8 p.m. Nov. 11. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta… TICKETS H E R E.