Ringo Starr in Nashville for Birthday, Country Stars Join Celebration
The Beatles once sang that "all you need is love." And when one of the Fab Four, country-music-loving drummer Ringo Starr, hit Music City this past weekend, he inspired an outpouring of love and pleas for peace from Nashville fans and a celebration of music that included several celebrity friends, among them country stars Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and Kix Brooks.
Now in the middle of his 13th All-Starr Band tour, Ringo, born Richard Starkey in Liverpool, England, on July 7, 1940, marked his 72nd birthday with a spectacular two-hour concert at the Ryman Auditorium on Saturday night, backed by a superstar band that included Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather (Toto), Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Gregg Rolie (Santana), along with Mark Rivera and Gregg Bissonette.
In addition to Beatles' favorites he's known for, such as "Yellow Submarine," "I Wanna Be Your Man," and "Boys," plus a handful of his solo hits from the '70s, among them "Photograph," and "It Don't Come Easy," the still-youthful and boundlessly energetic singer shared the spotlight with his band members who performed decades-spanning, memorable tunes of their own, such as Toto's "Rosanna" and "Africa," Rundgren's "I Saw the Light" and "Bang the Drum All Day," Mr. Mister's "Kyrie," and "Broken Wings" and Santana's "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways."
Ringo, who shared his love of country music with his former bandmates by contributing Nashville songwriter Johnny Russell's "Act Naturally" to the Beatles catalog in 1965 (as the flipside to Paul McCartney's "Yesterday") two years after Buck Owens topped the country chart with it, performed the song while briefly donning a black cowboy hat.
During the encore of "With a Little Help From My Friends," the Beatles drummer was joined onstage by several guests , among them Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Kix Brooks, songwriter Gary Burr and former James Gang and Eagles guitarist -- and member of Ringo's first All Starr Band in 1989 -- Joe Walsh who surprised the crowd mid-show and delivered a blistering version of "Rocky Mountain Way." Ringo had earlier explained that he and Walsh are brothers-in-law since Walsh is married to Marjorie Bach, the sister of actress Barbara Bach, Ringo's wife of 31 years.
Fittingly, the last song performed was John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," since earlier in the day, Ringo had been been joined by hundreds of fans outside downtown Nashville's Hard Rock Cafe, where he held a "peace and love" moment at noon, asking people worldwide to do the same at 12 o'clock in their own time zones.
It's an idea that first came to the entertainer in 2008 when an interviewer asked him what he wanted for his birthday. Since then, events have been held each year on his special day in locations such as New York, Chicago and Hamburg, Germany.
"It's sort of catching on more and more, the more we do," he said before the festivities. "We got lots of blogs from Japan and China and all over the world saying, 'We did peace and love.' So it's working."
Clearly, Ringo's message of peace and love isn't the only thing working. His spell on music lovers around the globe remains as powerful as ever.
Ringo Tours With His All-Star Band