On Feb. 9, 1964, I watched the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember turning to my father – a classical violinist in his own right – and telling him that I wanted to be just like Ringo, and learn to play the drums.
I was just about to turn 11 and knew in my mind – and probably like millions of others who watched that night – that I wanted to do something in music.
I took drum lessons, bought a used drum kit that I had for almost three years, and at the age of 14, we went over to Whittle Music in Dallas and bought a Ludwig set just like Ringo’s. Ringo’s set was black marine pearl, and I bought mine in white. I had to pay for my own cymbals, so doing odd jobs and through saving money, I bought used Zildjian’s at Minsky’s Music – a hybrid record and musical instrument shop also in Dallas.
Along with the influences of Ringo Starr, my drummer role models became Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Keith Moon of the Who, and Ginger Baker of Cream and Blind Faith. Sure, there were others that came and went, but Ringo, Charlie, Keith and Ginger became and remain the foundation of what became my own style.
The same drum kit remains intact, and when no one is home, I crank up the volume of my favorite music and jam away.
Last night at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, it was a unique opportunity to close my eyes and reflect on the influence that Ringo, and of course, the Beatles, had on me.
It was almost a surreal experience, as I had just experienced the Paul McCartney concert, also at the Tobin last Wednesday night. I sat with some of the crew from Richard Turner’s Redbone Guitar Boutique, and we totally bonded over some really great music. (Richard was one of the benefactors of the McCartney concert).
While billed as Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, this was hardly just a Ringo show. To that point, he started off the show stating that he was formerly with “another group” – Rory Storm and The Hurricanes – the band he was in before he wound up replacing Pete Best, the original drummer for the Beatles.
He and his fellow band mates played some of his most memorable Beatles songs such as “I Want To Be Your Man,” “With A Little Help from My Friends,” and “Yellow Submarine,” as well as his solo work with songs such as “Photograph” and “Anthem.”
Where the concert really shined was in the body of work that was performed with fellow band members, Gregg Rolie (Santana and Journey), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Warren Ham (Bloodrock and AD), Todd Rundgren (Nazz, Utopia and The New Cars), and Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth) and Steve Lukather (Toto).
Each member of the All-Starr Band played his own music with songs including “Rosanna” (Toto), “Kyrie” (Mr. Mister), “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (Santana), and “Love Is The Answer” (Utopia). Throughout the concert, each musician shared his enthusiasm for being in San Antonio, and paid special recognition to the acoustic and architectural qualities of the Tobin Center.
Themes of love, peace and hope resonated through all of the songs of the evening. It was clear that Ringo enjoyed being in the background, sitting on a riser doing what he does so well – being the glue that holds the band together and getting by with a little help from his friends.
Oh…back to my drums for a moment.
Even while my Ludwig’s have either been in cases or in a home for 45 years, they have aged a bit. Two months ago, I took them over to Jeff Ryder’s Drum Shop and had them completely restored. They look and sound terrific.
Thank you Ringo, and your wonderful All-Starr Band for a memorable and fun evening. If you have not been to the Tobin, check their schedule of upcoming performances. No matter who you see, be sure to spend part of the show with your eyes closed and dream away.
To read about Ringo Starr’s Peace and Love Fund through the David Lynch Foundation, visit Peace and Love. Peace and Love.
*Featured image: Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band engage with fans during their concert at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Alan Weinkrantz.