June 12, 2013


When celebrating the artistic and cultural vibe of the 1960s, one cannot overestimate the impact of The Beatles. But even with so many anniversary exhibits spotlighting the era, it is rare to see the personal archives of the band members. John Lennon and George Harrison have been honored with displays at the Grammy Museum and I was able to make frequent visits to The John Lennon Museum in Tokyo, which housed most of Lennon's artifacts. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was on hand to open a new Ringo exhibit today at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The show includes his original Ludwig drum kit from the Ed Sullivan show (a kit that launched a million drummers), and other rare instruments. Fashion fans will also be interested to see iconic items like Starr's "Beatle boots", collarless Cardin suit, and his Sgt. Pepper costume. Interactive displays include a drum kit with video lesson from Ringo and a sing-a-long area with clips from Yellow Submarine (1968). 

In a tour of the museum today with journalists, Ringo said that he did not actively maintain the collection and that he was thankful to a number of assistants for keeping the artifacts safe in storage. Among the items he was "blown away" to discover was a letter from his pre-Beatles bandmate, Rory Storm, and one of their concert posters from the early 1960s. Now that Ringo's history is on display, I hope Paul McCartney will feel that Beatles peer pressure to follow suit. McCartney is famous for hanging on to his artifacts, but I don't think I've seen his life celebrated yet in this way. Like many fans, I would love to see all four members represented in a comprehensive Beatles museum. The new Ringo show at the Grammy Museum is up until March 2014. Video below.

Ringo Starr is also developing new book projects. He published a multi-media eBook today with Genesis Publications called Photograph. The book is an interactive scrapbook of Starr's own photography and collection of rare images. In addition to many never-before seen snaps of The Beatles, viewers are also treated to historic videos and sound clips recorded by Starr. Photograph is currently available in the ibooks bookstore on iTunes and from Ringo's site. Genesis will release a print edition with additional content in the future. Ringo is also developing a new children's book based on his song Octopus's Garden. The book will be released on January 7th 2014, and will include a CD of Starr's reading and a rare recording of the song.

Ringo will turn 73 on July 7th. Happy Birthday to Ringo Starr! The former Beatle is still rocking on world tours. Project info at his official website here. Ringo Starr, born Richard Starkey, had rough beginnings in the Dingle section of Liverpool, with serious illnesses and "hard knocks with rival gangs." The skiffle craze carried him into a lifetime career in entertainment when he formed Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957. He joined the Raving Texans in 1959- renamed Rory Storm and the Hurricanes as Rock music prevailed as the dominant form. Ringo's band was quite popular in Liverpool and Hamburg, where life on the road brought him into contact with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. Won over by Ringo's steady beat, warmth and humor, The Beatles eventually welcomed him as their new drummer on August 18, 1962. Photo below (looking slightly like a proto-Jason King) by Richard Avedon.
Many of Ringo's best post-Beatles songs are about relationships and include a number of collaborations with fellow-Beatles and other friends from the industry. The songs lyrically express Ringo's emotions of love and loss for the people in his life. The cream of his work is quite touching and down-to-earth, a quality that speaks to his early passion for country music (Ringo's second solo album, Beaucoups of Blues (1970), was a collection of country songs). Ringo spent his wild years in the 1970s, making mayhem with pals Keith Moon, Marc Bolan, and appearing in two all-star Rock events, George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh and The Band's The Last WaltzStarting with his acclaimed performance in A Hard Day's Night (1964), Ringo has also had a long movie career, including Candy (1968), The Magic Christian (1969), and Caveman (1981). Ringo's IMDB page here

Ringo has collaborated often with his fellow Beatles on projects since the band's split in 1970. 
Stop and Smell the Roses (1981) was planned to include all four members of the Beatles. Ringo recorded with George Harrison and Paul McCartney in 1980, but John Lennon was killed in December before the two could meet in the studio. The record includes Harry Nilsson, Stephen Stills, Al Kooper, Ronnie Wood, and ends poignantly with promo spots for gun control. Photo below with wife (and James Bond girl) Barbara Bach (The Spy Who Loved Me) at the premiere of Cirque du Soliel's LOVE show in Las Vegas in 2006.
If you haven't explored Ringo's work lately, here are a some fave essentials. I hope you will spend some time with Ringo Starr. Cheers, Ringo! 

Films: A Hard Days Night (1964), Help (1965), The Magic Christian (1969), The Point! (1971), Caveman (1981), Ringo Starr VH1 Storytellers (1998).
Beatles Tracks: I Wanna Be Your ManBoys, Act NaturallyTomorrow Never Knows, Rain, With a Little Help From My Friends, Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day in the Life, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road (album).
With Fellow Beatles: Beautiful Night (McCartney/George Martin), All Those Years Ago (Harrison/McCartney), John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (album), Take it Away (McCartney), When We Was Fab (Harrison).
Ringo Solo Tracks: Early 1970, Step Lightly, It Don't Come Easy, Photograph, Goodnight Vienna (reprise), Back Off Boogaloo, Never Without You, King of Broken Hearts, Liverpool 8, Harry's Song.

I have a spy novel coming out. Get ready to meet MIKI ZERO, a Japanese fashion model and spy from 1965! Stay tuned and follow Spy Vibe by clicking the Follow link at top right of this page. More info at Jason Whiton's websitehere.

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