Ringo Starr, 79, has come out with a new studio album, What's My Name, that includes collaborations with such longtime pals as former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney, Dave Stewart and Starr's brother-in-law Joe Walsh. It's an eclectic collection of songs that jump, from rockers like “Gotta Get Up to Get Down” to the hopeful “Send Love Spread Peace” to “Money (That's What I Want),” the Motown hit covered by the Beatles back in 1963.
Its highlight is a poignant revival of “Grow Old With Me,” a previously unreleased tune from John Lennon's 1980 Bermuda Tapes demo collection, sung on the new album by Starr (born Richard Starkey) and McCartney.
We talked to the musician about What's My Name, life in his eighth decade and becoming Sir Richard.
How did you end up with the guest artists on the album?
I started this record the same as all records: I called 10 friends and thought, We'll each write a song together. People sometimes just pass by and ring the bell. If I'm in the studio and they can play, they're on the record.
The title is a rhetorical question. Does anyone ever not know who Ringo is?
No. But the craziest things happen. John died in 1980. In the ‘90s I'm walking down Walton Street in London and a guy says, “Hey, John, what's happening?” Oftentimes they only know it's one of us. They just don't know who.
Tell us about “Grow Old With Me” from the John Lennon demos.
Jack Douglas, who produced a couple of John's records, asked me, “Did you ever get that cassette?” Cassette! That's how long ago it was. He got me a copy of John's demos. At the beginning of the cassette, John says, “That sounds like it would be wonderful for Richard Starkey. That would be great for you, Ringo!” It was 39 years since he'd gone [and] I'd never heard this track. It was one of the last things he was doing. He'd finished all the other tracks. This he'd left as a demo. I said, “I'm going to do it,” and did my best. It's a pretty emotional vocal, actually.
Is it true that you never came close to having a real reunion of the Beatles?