ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW:
This interview is Ringo's version and view, as thorough as a mini autobiography. Topics range from his early memories, to the Beatles fame, the break-up, and right on through to his solo efforts. This interesting and entertaining conversation with Ringo was originally broadcast on August 29th 1977 on American radio in two parts on the program 'Inner-view.' The chat between Ringo and Elliot Mintz was recorded in Starr's own home in the Hollywood hills.
- Jay Spangler, www.beatlesinterviews.org
Q: "What are your earliest recollections?"
RINGO: "My first recollection is when we moved house. We moved just over the road. People in Liverpool don't move very far, you know. (laughs) But we had a six-room house and we moved to a four-room house. And uhh, that was the first real recollection I can remember. I mean, I was born the day war broke out, but I don't remember all the bombs though they did actually break up Liverpool, you know. I remember when I was a little older, there was big gaps in all the streets where houses used to be. We used to play over them."
Q: "Who did you live with then?"
RINGO: "My mother. My father sort of decided to leave when I was three so it was just my mother and I. It was six rooms and it was very big and the rent was expensive. So we moved into a great house, (jokingly) which was condemned ten years before we moved in! (laughs) And it's still there now!" (laughs)
Q: "You were, by all standards-- even Liverpool standards, poor?"
RINGO: "Yes. Working class poor. I mean, my mother had to go to work 'cuz she fed me."
Q: "What'd she do?"
RINGO: "She did everything. Scrub steps. She was a barmaid. She worked in a food shop. She had to earn a living."
Q: "What about school?"
RINGO: "I never liked it. I always sagged."
Q: "How long were you in school?"
RINGO: "About five years in all. At six-and-a-half I was very ill with paritinitis. They thought it was appendicitis. They rushed me to the hospital but it was too late. It was appendix that exploded. So, I was in hospital for a year then, and then as convelescent. So I didn't go back for two years, you know. And after that, I think that's when I really started to hate it. I know I didn't like it before I went to hospital, but then because... you're never caught up with the class, you know. There was no teacher gonna take special care of me. And you had to try and get yourself up there. And I always found it very hard. So it was easier to stay off. And you know, me mother would pack me off to school and I'd just go and walk 'round the park with a couple of guys... and write up notes. But we always got caught because we couldnt spell! (laughs) And I had a girl who used to look after me who taught me to read. I'm intellegent, but uneducated."
Q: "In Liverpool in the late 1940's it was tough. I mean, when John or Paul or George reminisce they talk about gangs and teddyboys..."
RINGO: "Yes. It was difficult for them because they were never in 'em. I was always in 'em." (laughs)
Q: "You were a gang member?"
RINGO: "Yeah. And you had the outfits and big long jackets. Teddyboy suits we called 'em. I think you call 'em Zoot Suits. And people would have razor blades behind their lapels in case you got grabbed, then the person would chop their fingers off, you know."
Q: "I know you were in it for self-preservation, but was there ever a time when you said to yourself, I just gotta get out of here?"
RINGO: "I said that as soon as I started playing. When I started playing I started gradually moving out of 'walking with the lads' as it was called. In England in '58 this big craze came up called 'Skiffle' which was based on American bottle parties... like blues bottle parties, where you take a washboard into the house and a bottle of beer. It'd be open-house, and I believe people would pay a quarter or a dime. Rent parties. You'd have someone with a jug, and a washboard, and a tea-chest bass. It'd be like made-up instruments, you know. So that's how I started, in one of those. But I mean, I had the drums."
Q: "That's the kind of stuff that you were hearing over the radio?"
RINGO: "Yes, because suddenly there was a great rave for it in England, you know. This Skiffle music. That's what started it."
Q: "You were the first rock group to play the Cavern?"
RINGO: "Yeah. When I was with Rory (Rory Storm and the Hurricanes) the Beatles were nothing. They weren't even formed, you know. And later on when we went professional.... I stopped work at twenty and went to Butman's holiday camp to play in the Rockin' Calypso. Usually every night they had a steel band. Well, we went down this one afternoon and there's John and Paul, and they were teaching Stuart Sutcliffe how to play bass. That's how loose it was for them. I mean, we were the professionals and they were just like, the boys, you know-- these struggling artists in those days. And so we went away to play, and we'd come back to Liverpool. And while we were doing this-- 'cuz we did it for two years. And then we'd go to Germany, and that's where I met the Beatles."
"We got back to Liverpool, and I was just in bed one afternoon 'cuz we were up all night and sleep all day. Uhh, Brian Epstein came over. He says, 'Will you sit in with the Beatles? Pete (Best) isn't well.' So I got up, and he had this big car-- drove me down there. And I played that afternoon then the other show at Southport that evening. So, we played the afternoon session and we went to this "Crocodile Club,' something like that it's called, and stayed there all afternoon gettin' crazy. Mainly just drinking in those days... and then we drove off to Southport and did the show. And it was very nice-- 'Here's your money,' you know, but we got to know each other a bit. We talked about me joining, vaguely. It was like, 'Well, would you like to?' Yeah, I'd like to."
"They were the only band I'd go and watch in Liverpool. They were big in Liverpool by then, not the world but just Liverpool. It was like the world. It was the monsteral move of a lifetime, you know, it was like 'How dare they throw Pete out!' Because I was well known there, half of the audience were for me. There was two chants going on-- 'Pete forever, Ringo never!' and you know, 'Ringo forever, Pete never!' So there was these chants while we were trying to play, all this stuff going on. And George got a black eye-- some guy punched him because I joined the band. (laughs) Can you imagine someone punchin' him 'cuz I joined, you know. And he was the main instigator anyway,
George, for getting me in 'cuz he liked me playing."
Q: "When I talked to John about the fame, he would always say to me 'You gotta understand that we were famous when we were in Liverpool. That, what happened later, was an extrapolation of..."
RINGO: "It just got bigger. That's all, you know. That's what I was saying-- It was so big, I mean, you got such craziness going on over this band in Liverpool. It was like the Queen had committed suicide, you know. I mean, you can imagine how big that would be. But just in Liverpool which was our world then. It was so big, you know. All we did was get more countries."
Q: When the four of you were on the stage that night and you were playing the first gig, in your ear did it sound like you were doing something revolutionary or something extraordinarily different?"
RINGO: "No. It just felt great! I didn't think it was revolutionary-- It just was a great band to be in, and it was a good time playing in that band."
Q: "You went from Liverpool on to Hamburg, primarily because that's where..."
RINGO: "...that's where the bread was."
Q: "You went from Hamburg, back and forth, Hamburg and Liverpool... on and on and on. And then there was the night that it was suggested that it was time to do the first album."
RINGO: "Well, it wasn't suggested. Brian had begged for months. I mean, he begged before I joined. They'd done these demos which he took 'round. And then suddenly he found Dick James who turned 'em onto George Martin, who would give us a chance. You know, he listened to the tapes and he thought they had something. The first record, 'Love Me Do,' for me... I don't know if you've asked John and George, they'll tell me later... that was more important than anything else. That first piece of plastic. You can't believe how great that was. It was so wonderful. We were on a record! That's great excitement to me."
Q: "Do you remember the first time you heard it on the radio?"
RINGO: "We were in a car."
Q: "All of you?"
RINGO: "Several of us. We were always together. I think we were in a car in Soho is one recollection. You gotta imagine-- everytime it was played or moved a spot (on the charts) we had a lunch! This thing went on for six months. Even if it went down we'd celebrate!"
RINGO: "It moved, anyway. Yeah, let's have dinner!"
RINGO: "I think we did a show. EMI used to buy time on Luxembourg and we went down and mimed to it. They used to have, like, fifty kids in this room, but it was a live disco radio show. And I think that's the first time it was ever on radio."
Q: "Radio Luxembourg."
RINGO: "Yeah. We were doing all this playing all over the road, and they said 'Well, you can do an album now,' you know. So we went in and we did the album in twelve hours... because we did everything we'd been doing on the road for the last year or so, you know."
Q: "The entire album in one twelve-hour session."
RINGO: "Yeah. And 'Twist And Shout' was the last one, and John really does it well, but he broke his throat doing it."
Q: "Did you know at that time, when the album came out... I mean, you knew it had been played in America..."
RINGO: "It went in stages. We did the first record and, I mean, you thought 'Ah, we're gonna be big!' No one could conceive that we were gonna be as big as we were. My tiny brain wouldn't acknowledge it. I mean, I wanted to play The Paladium... that was big. Then we DID the Paladium, so that was over with. And then we did Europe, and THAT was great. And then America was freaky-- The day we arrived we were Number One. So we get to America and 'What's THIS? There's twenty-billion kids out there. It just fitted into place all the time, you know. We did the Sullivan Show, and you know where it goes from there... It just went on and on. We had conquered America, folks."
Q: "In New York City when you were on your airplane flying flying from London to the airport, on WINS Radio the number one radio station in New York at the time..."
RINGO: "...Murray The K!"
Q: "Murray The K was giving 'Where They Are. How many more miles left.' And literally in New York, the city stood still."
RINGO: "I felt... On the airplane, I FELT New York. It was like an octopus grabbing the plane, you know? It was like, I mean, I was just sitting on this plane... I could feel like tenticles coming up to the plane it was so exciting. And the first time in New York-- It was exciting!! I mean, we'd pulled big crowds and we'd had big airport receptions, but of course America is bigger than anywhere else in Europe, so therefore the crowds are bigger. So we got off the plane, and we were used to ten, twelve thousand people, you know. It must have been four billion people out there, I mean, it was just CRAZY! It was fantastic! And we drove through it, and it was like the Royal tour-- this motorcade thing. But there was people lining the route. Then we got to the hotel and it was madness!"
Q: "The Plaza Hotel."
RINGO: "Yeah. And they were all outside and there's barriers and horses and cops all over the place."
Q: "It was the most incredible single cultural experience that had ever hit anybody under thirty."
RINGO: "Right. With the four of sitting in the car, giggling. (laughs) I'll speak for everybody-- We couldn't believe it! I mean, I'm looking out the car saying, 'What's going on? Look at this! Can you believe this?' It was amazing."
Q: "John said in an interview, 'By the time the Beatles came to America, they couldn't perform live anymore.'"
RINGO: "That's the truth. I mean, it's the great truth. No one heard us, not even ourselves. I found it very hard. I mean, I'm looking at amplifiers thinking the sound is going to come through my eyes instead of ears, but it's like-- I couldn't do any fills because I'm just there just to hold it together somehow, you know. So if I go off for a 'fill' which isn't as loud as all your force on an off-beat it would get lost anyway. And the timing usually went all to cock. And that's why we were bad players. That's when we decided to stop in '66. Everyone thought we toured for years, you know, but we didn't. I joined in '62, and we'd finished touring in '66 to go into the studio where we could hear each other... and create any fantasy that came out of anybody's brain."
Q: "What was it like for the Beatles to meet their idol, Elvis Presley?"
RINGO: "It was very weird. He was the king and he turned my head around-- I always thank him for being born, you know, because I was into Johnny Ray. So then Elvis came out and he was like the first 'teenage' rock-and-roller for me. So, it was the Fab Four meets Elvis. And we were all a bit nervous, you know-- you get a bit edgey-- and he probably was a bit edgey. So we walk in, and he's playing bass (guitar) to the television." (laughs)
Q: "What was on the television?"
RINGO: "I don't know, you know. But it was probably just a way of handling his nervousness. I don't know. I don't remember too much of the dialogue. 'Hi. Hi. Hello.' You know, 'Good to meet you. Loved your early records.'"
Q: "Was he the most significant musical force in your life?"
RINGO: "No. There was lots. Gene Autry was the most. It may sound like a joke-- Go and have a look in my bedroom, It's covered with Gene Autry posters. He was my first musical influence. He sent shivers down my spine when he put his leg over the horn on the saddle and sang, 'South of the border, down Mexico way' in a movie, right? It sticks in my brain. My first musical experience was that."
Q: "'I Want To Hold Your Hand' the last time I checked (1976 figures) had sold six and a half million singles."
RINGO: "Do you know how many we've sold all together?"
Q: "The last time I checked in (1976 figures) it was 400 million items."
RINGO: "Well, the last time I checked, it must have been 1970, it was only 250 million."
Q: "It's over 400 million as of last month."
RINGO: "Build me-self a new swimming pool." (laughs)
Q: "Do you know what the number one album was, by the way? It's sold the most to date."
RINGO: "And it isn't Sgt Pepper?"
RINGO: "Well, if there's any sense in the world it'd be Abbey Road."
Q: "It was."
Q: "It was the largest selling Beatles album." (1976 figures)
RINGO: "And so it should be. The second side of Abbey Road is my favorite. I love it. 'She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,' and all those bits that weren't songs-- I mean they were just all the bits that John and Paul had around that we roped together."
"And the White Album is important to me for different reasons. One-- I had left the band on the White Album. We're doing this album, and I'm getting weird-- saying to me-self, 'I've gotta leave this band. It's not working,' you know. So I just said, 'Okay, I'm going on holiday,' and I went away for two weeks. (laughs) And, uhh, that's when I left the band. And then I got a telegram from John saying, 'Great drums' on the tracks we'd done. And I came back and it was great, 'cuz George had set up all these flowers all over the studio saying welcome home. So then we got it together again. I always felt it was better on the White one for me. We were more like a band, you know."
"See, I never really liked Sgt Pepper. I mean, I think it's a fine album. All the work we do is fine. But I think I felt like a session man on it. We put so much on it-- strings and brass-- and you'd sit 'round the studio for days, you know, while they're overdubbing other things. It is a fine album, but just for me emotionally I prefer Abbey Road and alot of the White Album. And the early albums for different reasons."
Q: "You are aware that according to Rolling Stone magazine and the rock critics that Sgt Pepper is considered the greatest single rock album of all time?"
RINGO: "Yes. It's a great album. I'm not putting the album down. Just... you see... I don't just listen to the records, I'm going through what our relationships were at the time, you know. And they change all the time."
Q: "According to George and John, it was all over by 'Let It Be.'"
RINGO: "It was. That's 'cuz George left. George left on 'Let It Be.'"
Q: "George said the reason he left on 'Let It Be' is because he felt that the Beatles had acquired a fifth member-- Yoko Ono."
RINGO: "That was part of it for all of us. I remember being freaked out with Yoko. The four of us had been through alot together and we were very close... most of the time. We weren't close all the time. I don't know. I thought we were very possessive of each other in a way. The wives and the girlfriends never came to the studio... THAT was when WE were together. So, Yoko came in. And that was fine as John's relationship when we all said hello to her, because she was with John. But then she's sittin' in the studio on his amp. I mean, the pair of them were amazing... They suit each other, I think. So, we all got a bit weird, and I was wondering what was happening one day. So I was saying to John, 'What is going on here? You're always together all the time, you know. You're freaking me out a bit. What's happening?' And he told me what they were trying to do, so then I was fine after that. I sort of said, 'Oh well. Okay, that's how he wants to do it. That's fine with me.' And then I sort of relaxed alot around Yoko."
Q: "But was Yoko the sole source of the friction, or were there other factors that helped contribute to the break up of the group?"
RINGO: "George was getting alot of independence for himself in those days. He was writing more, and wanted things to go his way-- where, when we first started things basically went John and Paul's way. You know, 'cuz they were the writers. I think Paul was... George was finding his independence and he wouldn't be dominated as much by Paul as he was. 'Cuz Paul, in the end, wanted to point out the solo to George. And George would say, 'Well, I'm a guitarist. I'LL play the solo,' and he always did, you know. Umm, I think that was another factor, 'cuz George left with a big row with Paul. He (Paul) got a bit like, 'I wrote the song-- I want it this way,' where before it was, 'I wrote the song-- give me what you can give me.' And also... we were all married by then with family, and everyone wanted to do different things. I wanted to be in movies and stuff. So I don't think it was just Yoko that broke it up. Also... we'd been together for so long. We were just living our own lives, you know. I couldn't put my finger on one reason why we broke up. It was time, and we were spreading out. They were spreading out more than I was. I would've stayed with the band."
Q: "At that point, would you have been willing to give it a couple more years?"
RINGO: "I would've if it had sorted itself out. As it was, you know, I wouldn't have gone on with it."
Q: "At that point, you were ready to go your own way too?"
RINGO: "Yeah. It would've been easier for me if we'd have come back to the four of us situation-- all for one, one for all-- instead of all for themselves. It was getting more all for themselves... or ourselves. I include me, as well. I wanted to do different things too. But my mood was minor compared to their's."
Q: "A Beatle reunion. Do you want it or not? Would you like the four of you to get together one glorious night to do it up on stage live?"
RINGO: "As a straight answer-- Yes. But you see, that can't be the answer. No, you can't lay it all on me. It can't be the answer. There's too much involved to get together-- to make it possible. I would love for the four of us to play... don't know if it'll work. I don't see why it shouldn't because... I mean, I'm just going from the 'Ringo' album. It was John, George and I. It was the closest we ever got to a reunion. And it was fine. I mean, I would dig that. But until the four of us... I've talked to John about it and we've gone through it, and if there was a set-up on the lawn outside here and we just happened to be around we could play, you know. Then I'd love it. I'd love it, it doesn't matter where it was. But I mean, that would be easy. But to set up THIS thing takes alot of craziness."
Q: "Recently there was a firm offer-- Bill Sergeant, fifty million dollars, one night, one gig. But if somehow some promoter worked out all of the miriad of problems, whether it be closed-circuit, whatever the problems were..."
RINGO: "That's not the problem. That's the easy stuff. We don't care about that. It's the four of us. You've gotta remember, it's the four of us sitting in a room deciding that we all want to do it. And we've all said yes. I've never seen anyone of the other three who said 'NO!' ...you know, heavy No. We've all said, 'I'd like it if it be a reunion.' It takes the four of us to sit 'round and rap about it, just to sort out-- Are we gonna do 'Love Me Do' like we did it? Or are we gonna do it like we'd like to do it now. How would YOU like to do 'Love Me Do.' How would I like to do 'Love Me Do.' Simple basic questions like that. 'HOW are we gonna do it?' Never mind WHAT are we gonna do."
Q: "If it could be worked out and the other three said they're in, and they said, 'Ringo, do you wanna play for the reunion?' You would say..."
Q: "What about (ex-wife) Maureen. How are things with the two of you? Are you friendly?"
RINGO: "We're friendly, like, Tuesdays and Thursdays. We've got the children so we have to deal with each other because we have to deal with children's problems, you know, and our own problems. But some days it's fine, and then some days we just are at each other's throat. And from what I've heard that's a natural state of affairs until we both get relaxed enough, you know, just to handle each other as human beings without the brain damage of being married together for ten years."
Q: "Why did the two of you break up? Could you point to any specific thing?"
RINGO: "It's like the breakup of the Beatles. At one time we used to change together, then we started changing separately in different directions. There's no, like, 'Well, she cut my throat so we have to have a divorce.' There's no one snap thing that did it. It spread out over a year till you found yourself at the end of that year saying, 'What are we doing here? This isn't a marriage anymore.' And I had a fine marriage for eight-and-a-half years. I really had a fine marriage-- which I worked for, and she worked for it too. And it just started slipping away. And then it slipped to the end, and I had to end things. We went through the trial getting back together period. And in a marriage you can't TRY and be married. You're married or you're not married... as far as I'm concerned. When we were married for the first eight-and-a-half years and we were going out with each other a couple of years before, we didn't try and love each other-- we didn't try and live together-- we didn't try and be married. We WERE living together, WERE in love, WERE married. So, you know, I went back for awhile and I'm conscious all the time... I'm TRYING to be married to this lady. It wasn't being married, it was trying to be married. It's just like a limbo situation, and I just found it was doing my brain in, as well as her's. And so I wanted it ended."
Q: "I remember once being at a party, at the risk of sounding like a name-dropper... it was a party for the son of a very well known actor in Hollywood. And you were there, and Elton John, and John Lennon, and David Bowie arrived with Elizabeth Taylor."
RINGO: "Oh yes. I remember that."
Q: "Great party. And we all had a sip or two that evening, and it was the first night I ever got a chance to meet Elizabeth Taylor so I wouldn't quickly forget it..."
RINGO: "Isn't she wonderful! I love that lady! If you're listening Elizabeth, call me!"
Q: "I remember that night, for reasons between Elizabeth and David, their evening didn't work out perhaps as well as planned. And you and Elizabeth spent some time together that evening. And it occurred to me that you've known her for a number of years. You have been, as reporters say in the trade, romantically linked with some of the most extraordinary women in the world. Your face in newspapers shows up normally with the Elizabeth Taylors and I could go down the list of eight, nine, or ten women. And on the social scene in Hollywood you're in the clubs, you're at the parties, you're at (Hugh) Hefner's house, you're part of the scene. How has your experiences for the most part been with women?"
RINGO: "I have a basic problem. I love most of them. (laughs) I mean, women are very important to me. I don't know, they just drive me crazy."
Q: "But you go through so many of them."
RINGO: "Yes, but I fall in love with all of them."
Q: "That's not love, is it?"
RINGO: "Well, it IS! Yes!"
Q: "What was your relationship with Elizabeth Taylor?"
RINGO: "That was... it went beyond 'Hello,' but I never went to bed with Elizabeth. (laughs) Elizabeth and I have a wonderful time. She was always married to Richard (Burton) anyway! It was nothing to do with anything. But I think she is one of the most fascinating women in the world. And she's... I mean, I'm not the only one that thinks that. Half the world thinks it, if not three-quarters. And I get sad sometimes when people put Elizabeth down. She's got a wonderful personality. She's got a great heart. She'd give anything away. See, why we could get on... If people are just making it, they look at me and say, 'Ah! It's Fab Four Beatles stuff!' I still get that. But Elizabeth, she's been a star all her life so she's not playing the games anymore. (jokingly) She's still very stroppy-- 'Get me the car, get me the diamonds!' (laughs) I mean, she's a struttin' woman. She strides. She doesn't just walk into a room, she just comes in like a hurricane. You KNOW she's there. And she's fantastic. But on the other side, she's a very kind person. And I love her, anyway. (into the microphone) I love you, Elizabeth!"
Q: "All the other women, at least the faces that appear in these (tabloid) photographs with you..."
RINGO: "I'm not sleeping with all the women I appear with."
Q: "But are you..."
RINGO: "Alot of them are standing with me just to have their photo taken, so they'll get in a magazine."
Q: "But you have a rather notorious reputation, especially in Hollywood."
RINGO: (jokingly) "I'm not going to talk about that on your tape. I have not!"
RINGO: "You're making me out to be like Ryan O'Neil. (jokingly) He's a good friend of mine, I met all the stars, folks! I met John Lennon, you know!"
Q: "I guess what I'm getting at is-- Do you have affairs with all of these women that you appear to be linked with in public, or are they just friends of yours?"
RINGO: "If I had affairs with all of them I'd be a decrepit old person! (laughs) I don't think anyone has that much energy. I had affaris with several of them-- and you can pick your own. (jokingly) I mean, I've never heard the likes of this. I sound notorious. You're trying to change my image. You know I'm nice and homely."
Q: "How far along the line did you ever get into psychedelic drugs?"
RINGO: "I didn't go any further than acid."
Q: "How significant was acid in your life?"
RINGO: "I was very important at the beginning. And the first time I took it was in Los Angeles. I mean, I never talk about this shit. It's like religion or politics, it's nothing to do with you or anyone else out there, okay? I've taken several substances into my body. And that's it, get off my back. I won't talk about it. I don't think it's anything to do with you. I mean, I started on acid, I think it was very important at the time, I'm glad I took it. I don't ask anyone else to take it because I took it-- because that's the problem we have. And I don't want someone else's brain on my brain if they damage it."
Q: "It is fair to say that drugs don't play a significant role in your life?"
RINGO: "Now? No. Not at all. They did at one time, but they don't now."
Q: "How happy are you with your music since the group has broken up?"
RINGO: "Well I'm getting happier all the time, which is very nice. You know, I did the first album wich was 'Sentimental Journey,' because we all know I didn't know what to do. And I decided I gotta get off me ass and get a job. So I thought "I'll go in and do all these standards,' you know, because I always liked them anyway-- and it's me, right? So it's part of me. I'm not one fo those people who won't admit to their past and their musical influences. So I thought, 'That's what I'll do.'"
"And I did the country album (Beaucoups Of Blues) because I still like country and western music. And that happened by accident. We were playing on George's album (All Things Must Pass) and Pete Drake was there-- I had lent him my car and he noticed I had all these country tapes, beside the rock tapes and any other tape in the car. And he said, 'Ah, you like country,' and I said, 'Yeah, I really dig it.' And he said, 'You should come and do an album in Nashville.' I said, 'I'm not looking to spend three months in Nashville,' and he said, 'What are you talking about? We do an album in a week!' He was leaving, and I said 'I'll be there a week from Saturday. You get it together and I'll fly in.' And we went in. I was getting up at ten in the morning, learning five songs, and going in at seven at night and we'd cut five songs."
"And then I just did singles with George. I'd write a single, or he'd write it with me. I can start a thousand songs, but finishing them I always find very hard. So George would help me finish it. You know, I only know three chords and he'd stick four more in, and they'd all think I was a genius. (jokingly) 'Oh, he's playing F-diminshed, is he?' I don't even know what it is. So I did singles for awhile-- I did 'Back Off Boogaloo,' and 'It Don't Come Easy' which was very good for me."
Q: "What about the 'Ringo' album?"
RINGO: "Everything just sort of came together like the country album, like an accident in a way. Then I worked with Harry Nilsson in London on his album (Son Of Schmilsson) with producer Richard Perry. So Harry and I were invited to do the Grammy awards, and Richard was saying, 'Remember you were talking to me in the club one night, you know... you'd like to do something? After the Grammys, why don't you come down to L.A. for a week?' And we went in. It worked so well, in ten days we had eight tracks, you see. Once we started we couldn't stop. And then I got John to write me something, and I got Paul, I got George. You know... dragged in all me friends, 'cuz I'm lucky-- I got alot of people who'll work for me. I'll work for them, but I always feel very lucky that people will come out for me."
Q: "The 'Ringo' album is the most successful of the albums you've done. Were you really happy with that, I mean, if you listen to it now?"
RINGO: "Alot of it, yeah. I love alot of it. I think, as an album though, 'Goodnight Vienna' is probably better."
Q: "Alot of people seem to forget, that in addition to all of your recording activites since the breakup of the Beatles, you've also appeared in a number of motion pictures-- and a number that have done extremely well that you've been quite good in."
RINGO: "In one." (laughs)
Q: "Which is the one that you've thought you were very good in?"
RINGO: "'That'll Be The Day.'"
Q: "The last one."
RINGO: "Well no, because I played the Pope in 'Lisztomania' for (director) Ken Russell. But I don't know because I never saw 'Lisztomania,' I still don't know to this day. I felt very good in 'That'll Be The Day.' See, before when I did the Peter Sellers 'The Magic Christian' and 'Candy' with Richard Burton-- that's where I met Elizabeth Taylor by the way, Marlon Brando and all those people-- I was around those people and I think that was a great education. 'Cuz I don't really believe in schools for anything, including drum schools. But I think working with the likes of Peter Sellers and Richard Burton and people like that taught me more than anything. And so that's how I get my knowledge is working with people, more than going to school."
Q: "Is recording first and acting second, or are they both equally as satisfying?"
RINGO: "Uhh, they're equally as satisfying, but... I mean, I really love playing the drums, I like making records, and I equally love acting or being in movies. And now it's getting much stronger for me. Before, I wanted to be a film star, and now I'd like to be an actor. I want good parts, I don't need star billing. I don't mind whatever the part is as long as it's got some meat."
Q: "Will there ever be a time when you'll be able to walk down the street in America or any major city in the world and not be thought of an as ex-Beatle? Will that always haunt you till the end?"
RINGO: "Haunt is the wrong word. I think anyone who does actually recognize me... half the people don't recognize you anymore..."
Q: "They don't?"
RINGO: "Naw. I mean, there's lots of people out there now who are too young to remember it, or never liked it when it was going. (laughs) I don't know. I think there will always be someone in some crowd who'll point you out as a Beatle."
Q: "Does it bother you?"
RINGO: "Not very often. Some days you'd like to go, 'Oh shit, I'd like to do this on my own and just for it to be me, not ex-Beatle.' I think when we're ninety-five in wheelchairs they'll wheel us onto 'This Is Your Life' and the introduction will be 'EX-Beatle Ringo Starr!'"
"Someone pointed out, that since we broke up, the only way we can all go is downhill 'cuz individually none of us will attain what we attained together. And I think that's a very nice statement. And it wasn't derogatory or anything, but it's a fact of life, you know."
Q: "When it's all over, Ringo-- when you're no longer here-- how would you like people to think of you?"
RINGO: "I don't really care how they think of me. I've tried my best to be a reasonably good person. I'm sure I've trodden on some people, but I didn't consciously do it. I've never gone out of my way to really be hateful to anybody, so... I mean I don't mind how they think of me. It's not that important if you're dead. I'll be too busy."
Source: Transcribed by www.beatlesinterviews.org from audio copy of the radio program