Rock

Ringo Starr on ‘Rewind Forward,’ writing country music, the AI-assisted final Beatles track and more

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In the universe of rock legends, Ringo Starr stands out — not just as the Beatles’ iconic drummer but also as an acclaimed solo artist, avid photographer, voice artist, screen actor, and advocate. Describing him as merely ‘prolific’ doesn’t truly encapsulate the breadth of his achievements, yet it somehow feels appropriate.

His newest offering, “Looking Back, Moving Ahead,” launching on October 13, is his fourth EP in a span of three years.

“I’ve always been fond of EPs since they became a thing back in the ’60s,” Starr explains. “Then I realized the younger generation is gravitating towards EPs and I thought, ‘Well, that’s interesting!’”

The title mirrors the distinctive “Ringo-speak,” something John Lennon would often jest about, similar to the quirky expressions like “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Upon deeper reflection, he shares, “I reckon it’s about pausing, looking back and realizing, ‘I was in a better space back then,’ or ‘things were more in tune with my vibe then.’ It’s not about dwelling in yesteryears, but occasionally revisiting them.”

Then with a chuckle, he adds, “Of course, I might just be spinning tales here.”

In crafting the four-song EP, Ringo collaborates with a band of friends and artists including his long-time partner in rhyme Bruce Sugar, Steve Lukather from his All Starr Band, Joe Williams of Toto, as well as Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, among others.

The track, “Basking in the Sunlight,” is the brainchild of fellow Beatle Paul McCartney, with whom Ringo shares he has regular FaceTime sessions and frequent reunions, either in London or LA.

“He had originally put down the drum tracks. We found it amusing when we decided to redo them,” Starr says with a grin.

If one were to search for a consistent theme in “Looking Back, Moving Ahead,” or perhaps in any of Ringo’s individual projects, it would be an unwavering optimism — the belief that even in dark times, hope and love will guide the way.

That same spirit propels him onward. His current tour commenced on September 17th in Ontario, California, and will wrap up next month in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Remarkable for an artist of his stature, especially when many of his peers are on their farewell tours.

“People often tease me saying, ‘Wasn’t that your last gig?’ I’ve joked about it post-tour many times, to the amusement of my family,” he quips. Yet, the allure of the stage remains irresistible to him: “It’s everything to me.”

He’s also excited about future EPs. “Currently, I’m on an EP spree,” he reveals. An unexpected turn is the upcoming country-themed EP, inspired by a chance meeting with “T-Bone” Burnett at a poetry session by Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s widow. Instead of a pop tune, Burnett sent him a country track, and Ringo mused, “Why not venture into country?”

Recently, he joined hands with McCartney for Dolly Parton’s rendition of the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” On the collaboration, he comments, “Being part of it was amazing. No arm-twisting needed. I’m always up for it.”

In June, word got out about a final Beatles track made possible with AI technology, isolating John Lennon’s voice from a piano demo. Ringo clarifies amidst swirling speculations, “We would never fabricate John’s parts. This truly is the last song with all four of us – John, Paul, George, and yours truly.”

On its release, he remarks, “It should have been out in the open by now.”

For those yearning for more Beatles, the vast anthology awaits, including the in-depth documentary “Get Back.” It grants a glimpse into their most personal moments, such as the inception of “Octopus’s Garden,” assisted by Harrison.

Reflecting on the Beatles era, he nostalgically says, “Those days were golden. It was incredible. The bond with my three ‘brothers’ was special. After all, being an only child, they became my family.”

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