When Ringo Starr Released His First-Ever Live Album
It's fitting that Ringo Starr's first-ever concert recording found him working with a deeply talented and genre-jumping group of collaborators. After all, he'd risen to fame at the drums with the Beatles, a similarly category-defying, hit-making group.
What was surprising about Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, which arrived on Oct. 8, 1990, was how long it had taken him to release a live album. Even a two-year period in the '70s when Starr put out a pair of Top 10 albums in Ringo and Goodnight Vienna hadn't prompted globe-trotting concerts and the obligatory tour document. Instead, Starr saw his music career drift into the '80s as he focused on acting and battled some personal issues.
But he emerged in 1989 clean and sober – and ready to rock. Rather than reassembling the sturdy studio vets who typically worked on his solo projects, Starr set his sights a little higher. His talent-packed first group, cheekily dubbed the All-Starr Band, included Joe Walsh, Dr. John, former Beatles collaborator Billy Preston, Rick Danko and Levon Helm of the Band, and two members of the recently idled E Street Band, Clarence Clemons and Nils Lofgren.
It's no surprise then that the resulting Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, recorded on the closing nights of their U.S. tour at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre, swept across a broad variety of styles – from Walsh's edgy "Life in the Fast Lane" and the amped-up gospel of Preston's "Will It Go Round in Circles" to an ageless take on "The Weight" with Helm at the mic. Starr stepped forward every so often to recreate moments from his time in the Beatles and as a solo artist, completing the album with animated runs through "Photograph," "Honey Don't" and "It Don't Come Easy."
The exposure didn't just revitalize Starr's career; this project helped jump-start things for some of his bandmates too. "It gave us a lot of exposure," Preston told the Los Angeles Times back then, "and made people realize we're still here and ticking." Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band also kicked off a string of similar albums and tours, as Starr continued to get by with a little help from some very famous friends.