This year's group includes Todd Rundgren, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Steve Lukather (Toto) and Gregg Rollie (Santana, Journey). Each All-Starr will sing their two biggest hits, and back Ringo on a mixture of Beatles and solo tunes.
We spoke to Ringo about what motivates him to keep touring, why you're unlikely to hear Octopus's Garden" this summer and whether or not Let It Be will ever be released on DVD.
What inspired you to put the first All Starr Band together back in the 1980s?
Well, I had this offer from Pepsi to put a band together and go on tour. I hadn't really thought about it, but then I thought, That would be cool." I got my phonebook out and called several people. If you look at the first All Starr Band, it was like an orchestra. I was a little insecure about it because I hadn't done it before. Anyway, I called Dr. John, Billy Preston … It's flooding back now because we just lost Levon Helm. I had him on one side of me, and Jim Keltner on the other. We had three drummers in the band, a great front line. That's how it started, and it's still going.
Tell me the criteria that you use in picking All Starr bands these days.
It's always the same: you have to have recognizable hits. We are the 1-800 band, but we're live. Everybody has to have hits in the 1960s, which I do, in the 1970s, which I do, and we're getting into the 1980s now. I don't think we've quite managed the 1990s yet. This year's band is a great line-up. I've got Richard Page back, because he's great. I've got Todd Rundgren. I've had him before too. He's great fun to have onstage. And we're gonna get to know Steve Lukather and Gregg Rolie.
It's a great gig for guys like Steve and Gregg. They sing incredibly famous songs, but not everyone knows their names.
Yeah. As soon as people hear the song, they know what's going on. And I think that people who come to the Ringo and the All Starr shows know what they're gonna get from me. They get a couple of the new record, and then we just play all these incredible songs. The great thing about it is, though I come down to the front of the stage to do several of the numbers, I get a chance to sit at my kit and play with all of these great songs. So it's a win/win for me.
Have you ever thought about touring on tour own, without the All Starrs?
I don't really have enough songs. You know what I mean? Even from the beginning, I never wanted it to be like, Ok, I'm up there all night." I wanted the opportunity to play with really cool guys, which so far that's what happened. Then I come down for A Little Help From My Friends," Yellow Submarine" and stuff like that.