In a rare public appearance, Ringo Starr — looking rock-star skinny and at least a decade younger than his 69 years — lured an SRO audience to the Grammy Museum on Tuesday night, discussing his career with the Beatles and as a solo artist before treating his fans to a few samples from his latest album, “Y Not,” released last week.
As important to the Fab Four’s success as superstar timekeepers Keith Moon and Ginger Baker were to the Who and Cream, respectively, Starr was by turns revealing, amusing and a tad abusive to his interviewer, Robert Santelli, executive director of the museum, who nevertheless kept his good-natured composure in the face of rock-royalty snark.
Celebs including Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg and guitarists Joe Walsh and Edgar Winter dotted the packed room, which sold out in eight minutes, a Grammy Museum record.
For his new disc, Starr said, he enlisted a little help from his friends, including Walsh, whom he described as “a house guest”; ex-Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart; Paul McCartney, who plays on two tracks; and Ben Harper, who appeared onstage with Starr.
On his first-time role as the sole producer on his own album, Ringo quipped: “I thought for the first time I’ll tell the guitarist what to do. It was all new to me.”
Starr then played a couple of tracks from his new collection, “Walk With Me,” co-written with Van Dyke Parks, and the autobiographical “The Other Side of Liverpool.” The older material that got the audience on its feet, including a rousing version of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” For a few brief moments the crowd got to see the legend at work.