Ringo Starr Marks Sober Year 35 with Another All Starr Tour
Anybody who doubts the power of sobriety need look no further than 82-year-old Ringo Starr, who’ll be picking up his 35th medallion while out on the road. That’s right, the one-and-only Ringo is now 82. He’s also 35 years sober. So when the bright-eyed and rather spry entertainer leads his latest All Starr Band through another set of six-show weeks, it’ll be with the joy and the clarity of long-term sobriety.
Then again, Ringo Starr’s remarkable sobriety is hardly a secret. Neither is his All Star Touring. After all, he’s been bringing the star-studded sober show to the road since 1989, pretty much straight outta rehab.
Some say the 82-year-old is taking on quite the workload. Ringo Starr says “what workload?”
“If I’m on the road, I want to play,” Starr said during the mid-May video conference. “I don’t want to sit in a hotel and relax for three days. I want to get out there and play. It’s just how I am. I just love to do it. I mean, with this band it’s great because everybody takes the weight.”
Ringo Starr & His All Star Band
No reason why these players couldn’t or wouldn’t share the weight though. Because this year’s All Starr line-up features some of the heaviest racket-makers ever to stage.
Press-Telegram reporter L. Kent Wogamott tells us edition 2023 features Edgar Winter (keys), Jeff “Toto” Lukather (guitar), Men at Work’s Colin Hay (guitar), AWB original Hamish Stuart (bass), as well as horn player Warren Ham and drummer Gregg Bissonette.
The latest All Starr Tour actually first hit the road back on May 19th in Temecula, California; and this leg ends on June 17th in San Jose. A second leg starts on September 17th at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California and winds up October 13th in Thackerville, Oklahoma. In between highlights include Tuscon’s Linda Ronstadt Theater (Sept 19), Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (Sept 24) and the Chicago Theatre (Oct 5).
Prior All Starrs
Prior All Starr line-ups have included Joe Walsh, Billy Preston, Rick Derringer and Dr. John, in addition to various members of BTO (Randy Bachman), The Guess Who (Burton Cummings), Grand Funk Railroad (Mark Farner) and The Band (Rick Danko, Levon Helm). This latest edition however has been relatively consistent since 2018. As always, each show features a cross section culled from Starr’s own catalog (solo and with the Beatles), in addition to the biggest hits from the All Starrs’ respective careers. Those additional two or three hits per make for some rather nice icing on a classic pop cake.
So does the band members’ mutual admiration.
“I have more fun playing their stuff than mine,” said Lukather, “I can tell you that. Plus, playing all the great Ringo hits and Beatles stuff never gets old. I love everybody, they’re such great musicians and such great friends and just a joy. This is not work. This is a vacation as far as I’m concerned.”
For Starr, the All Starr Band tours enable him to do what he’s enjoyed doing for the whole of his legendary life – play drums, sing and perform.
Not that Starr hasn’t been playing, singing and performing, mind you. Yes, Wogamott says dear Ringo spent the pandemic hiatus by going to the gym, painting and making spin art. More importantly though (at least for fans), our Starr also continued to make new music. And he did so at a surprisingly steady pace.
Ringo Starr released two EPs in 2021 alone (“Zoom In” and “Change the World”). Then in 2022 he added “EP3” to the mix. Word is there are three more EPs in the works. In fact, the first was finished shortly before this tour’s rehearsals began, a second will be produced by noted songwriter-producer Linda Perry, and a third will be all country (really). Why? Because T Bone Burnett wrote Ringo a song.
“(He) sent me, I promise you, one of the most beautiful country songs I’ve heard in a long time,” said Starr. “It’s very old-school country and it’s beautiful.”
“So I thought ‘Hey, I’m going to make a country EP.’”
But really, six EPs in three years plus 90 days of on-and-on touring? That’s a helluva schedule for anyone, even with the summer break. For an 82-year-old, it’s just plain nuts!
“People are saying, ‘What about retirement?’,” Starr asked. “Well, I’m a musician. I don’t have to retire. As long as I can pick up those sticks, I got a gig.”
Ringo Starr on Sobriety
And as long as Ringo Starr stays sober. Most folks know Ringo spent the first decade after the Beatles hard-partying with the likes of Marc Bolan and Harry Nilsson. They also probably know that both Ringo and wife Barbara Bach ripped through the ‘80s in a fog of cocaine and alcohol. And if you know all that then you also know that both got sober at the same time, in the same place. In fact, the Arizona rehab even allowed the couple to share the same room. (Then again, being a former Beatle does entitle one to some perks.)
The bio With a Little Help, by Michael Seth Starr (no relation), says the real reveal though came when those Arizona doctors told Ringo his drinking and drug use had left him with severe liver damage and an enlarged heart.
Then the proverbial little voice alighted in his head, and the rest became sobriety history:
“You always think you’re witty on alcohol and cocaine,” said Ringo. “You think you’re so witty that you decide to tell the same story over and over and over and over and over again. To the same person. I meet people now, and I think, ‘God, was I like that?’ And a little voice inside says, ‘Yes, you were.’”
Ringo Starr is Our Kinda Rockstar
Healing Properties salutes the sober troubadour, not just for sticking to his guns, but for showing the world how sobriety is done. When you’ve got resources enough to do whatever you want, whenever you want to, doin’ the right thing has gotta be tough. To keep doin’ the right thing over three-and-a-half decades proves Ringo Starr is as tough as they come.
If you or a loved one is battling substance abuse, please give us a ring. We’ve been helping men regain their balance since 2002; we’d be honored to help you too.
Photo: Rob Shanahan Courtesy: Schröder+Schömbs Flickr