Wednesday, October 10, 2007


A few weeks ago, there was a rumor that Ringo Starr would be on the ballot for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class (it didn't happen though). With all due respect to the man, I don’t think that he would get my vote (if I was a voter), as much of a fan as I am. I think people love him, and The Beatles, so much that they figure, “Well, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison are all in for their solo careers, why not Ringo?” That’s not a great argument for someone to be voted into the Hall of Fame. A few years ago, George Harrison was inducted. I think that he deserved it, based only on his solo debut, All Things Must Pass. But it was interesting that, at the ceremony, they performed two of George’s songs – The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and The Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care.” Neither of which came from a George solo album, which was ostensibly what he was being inducted for.

Back to Ringo: I think he could be inducted in the “sideman” category, for playing drums on other people’s albums – mainly John's and George’s. He’s a very solid and underrated drummer. I just don’t think his solo career is Hall of Fame caliber.

That said, his new compilation, Photograph: The Very Best Of Ringo Starr has some great moments. It has his early classics like the title track and what I consider to be his greatest solo moment, “It Don’t Come Easy.” His early solo stuff basically relied on his charm and charisma, and the contributions of his friends (John, George, Paul, Elton John, Stephen Stills, etc.) who were all at the peak of their powers. His earliest stuff was great, and as he descended further into substance abuse, predictably, the music got worse. Then, in the early ‘90s, after getting clean and touring for the first time as a solo artist (with his very retro-leaning “All-Starr Bands”) he starting making pretty good records, starting with 1993’s Time Takes Time. This collection includes album from pretty much all of his albums, including one of my favorite Ringo songs, a sweet tribute to George, called “Never Without You,” featuring a guitar solo by Eric Clapton – or as Ringo refers to him in the liner notes, “It’s by that guy who does ‘Layla,’ what’s his name?”

I’ve never seen a Ringo show with the All-Starrs, but I did see a rare non-All-Starr gig at the late Bottom Line in NYC once. It was actually the first time Ringo had ever performed at a club in the U.S. His band included Joe Walsh, Free/Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke and some of the guys who work on his solo albums but who never tour. It was great. I wish he’d do more of that.

So, I'm giving the drummer - one of the most underrated drummers ever - some credit. He deserves it. But I just don't think I'd vote for him to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, especially while The Stooges, Metallica, Tom Waits, Emmylou Harris, Warren Zevon, Alice Cooper, KISS, Motorhead, The New York Dolls, The Replacements, Bad Brains, Sonic Youth, Husker Du and X all aren't in yet (to name a few).

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