Indeed, along with the famous jovial side — and the "peace and love" side — there's always been a businesslike, no-nonsense side to Starr. That was evident way back in 1968, when (and here's a good trivia question to test your friends with) he was actually the first Beatle to quit the band, during tense sessions for The White Album.
Ringo 2012 is the third album in a row to include a song about Starr's childhood in Liverpool. He also threw in two cover tunes, Buddy Holly's "Think It Over" and "Rock Island Line," the latter dating back to his pre-Beatles days. "The idea was to pay homage to the start of my musical career," he says.
In some ways, the Beatles seem more alive now than at any time in the 41 years since their breakup, between the reissues, the "Rock Band" game, the Las Vegas Love show and soundtrack album, and the natural process of new generations making the discovery.
"The kids are buying it, still, so that's a good sign," he says. "And now we're finally on iTunes. You can download us. I think you have to go in some ways with some of the flow. My grandkids all get their music on computers. There's no shops you go to like we did to buy a record."
He corrects himself, remembering an odd trend. "We're putting my album out on vinyl, because the kids are buying vinyl now. There's a huge underground of vinyl-buying teenagers. The kids are always looking for some way to go somewhere else. It's like I was talking to some guy yesterday, and he was talking about snowboarding. Now, suddenly, all the hip kids are all skiing again instead of snowboarding!" He chortles, then imitates a clock. "It's like ding, dong, ding, dong … Old is cool. Lucky for me."