Ringo Starr talks new EP, ‘groovy’ vaccine and finding Beatles’ humor in Peter Jackson documentary


If theres one thing Ringo Starr misses most about pre-pandemic life, its probably the hugs. Theres not a lot of hugging and Im a big hugger, but youve got to stop all that lately, says the legendary Beatles drummer, whose new solo EP, Zoom In, is out Friday. Starr recorded the five-track effort over Zoom with famous pals including Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl, who feature on the wistful Heres to the Nights. He also invited some musicians into his Los Angeles home studio, which was a lifesaver for me, to be able to hang out with another musician with a mask on, at least 10 feet or 6 feet away. The jovial Starr, 80, who just released new book Ringo Rocks. 30 Years of the All Starrs, recently caught up with USA TODAY for a wide-ranging chat over – what else? – Zoom. . Ringo Starr. Ive come to love Zooming. When you see the cover of the EP, its a big camera lens behind me. So theres zooming in in that way, and I think we are all zooming in a little emotionally. And in reality, were sort of in a box. I have a beautiful box here on Zoom, but Ive been in it a lot. Since last March, Ive left the house . . . six times? Youve got to help protect yourself if you can, but I was really pissed off. I had two tours I had to let go of, and Ive already canceled the May/June one this year because I dont think itll be safe. And thats it. Living in the now. . Howve you been spending time indoors? . . Starr. Ive been doing a lot of painting and doing tracks for this record. And dont tell anybody, but Im now in the middle of EP 2. Weve got some more songs were doing, and it just keeps me going. We have my art room, where I can just throw paint anywhere I like, and I go in the gym. So Im either watching the TV, making a record, painting or Im working out. . Well, you look great. Is it really just the broccoli, blueberries and vegetarian diet that keep you so young? . . Starr. Yeah, Im telling you. blueberries and broccoli. The two Bs, baby! I dont know if its good for everybody, but I set my palate on what I want. Every morning its berries, no matter what else is on the plate. Its always with berries. I have a protein drink during the day and a protein bar. I think protein is important. I mix it myself with salad and fruits and put it all in the spinner. . The Beatles Revolver album turns 55 later this year. Did you ask Paul McCartney to write you a song, or how did you wind up singing Yellow Submarine?. . Starr. No, theyd always say, Weve got a song for you. When they couldnt be bothered writing for me, I started by doing Carl Perkins Honey Dont, which the Beatles covered in 1964 or Boys by The Shirelles, recorded by the Beatles in 1963. Theyre records I love, so we did my versions. Then they started writing for me and ruined my whole career. I was a rock star and they made me a balladeer! Laughs. Do you have a favorite Beatles song you sang lead on? . . Starr. Well, With A Little Help from My Friends, that gave me a whole career, really. It was great because they were all joining in. . Dont Pass Me By is a personal favorite of mine. Starr. Yeah, but thats one I wrote. I thought I was writing a big blues number. It came out of the blue like Back Off Boogaloo. T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan came over for dinner one night and thats how he talked. Hey, back off! Ah, boogaloo! Then I go to bed at night and I can hear the chorus, Back off boogaloo. . . I ran downstairs trying to put it on tape but none of my machines worked, so I was stealing batteries from my childrens toys. And thats how that started. But I never know where theyre coming from. I cant sit there like, Im going to write now. I write a lot of lines down that I feel could be good songs later. . Peter Jacksons new documentary The Beatles. Get Back in theaters Aug. 27 is a recut of 1970 film Let It Be, about the making of the bands final album. Have you seen any of it yet? . . Starr. Yeah, Im always moaning that the Michael Lindsay-Hogg documentary was miserable and it was. It was based on a couple of seconds of what two guys McCartney and George Harrison went through. We had lots of those moments, but we had a lot of loving, too, and that was never shown. I remember lots of humor, lots of laughter. And we found 56 hours of unused film, so we gave Jackson that. And every time he came to LA, hed come over with his iPad and say, Look at this. And Id say, Yes! Theres laughter and theres joy, and footage of the band being the band. digging each other, fooling around. Thats how the sessions were. So I love Peter and I love what hes doing. Everyone will be amazed. Its beautiful and its joyful and we play live on the roof. That concert is seven or eight minutes long in the original film – its now 43 minutes. .

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