May 15th, 2003
Unlikely as it may seem in retrospect, when the Beatles first conquered America back in '64, my first favorite mop-top was George. Why? Well, the fact that my middle name is ALSO George may have influenced my choice heavily, but I soon wised up. Ultimately, I wound up alternating my allegiance between the more prominent John and Paul, leaning towards the witty one in the early days and the cute one during the latter stages.
And Ringo? Well, the beloved drummer with the prominent proboscis spent some small amount time as my favorite Beatle as well. Specifically, his hold on that purely honorific title lasted for approximately two hours three years ago this very day! That's when the latest edition of that traveling hits package known as the All-Starr Band sidled into town allowing me, after watching from afar for nearly four decades, the opportunity to see my very first Beatle in the flesh!
Yes, years before April 21st was designated forevermore to be known as Paul McCartney Day hereabouts, May 15th was awarded the appellation of "Ringo Day"--two whole years before, in fact!!
And here's the odd thing--as wonderful as that McCartney concert was--and you have only to scroll back a bit to refresh your memory as to my enthusiastic impressions of THAT evening--the Ringo show provided me with a single bigger thrill, if not nearly as sustained a period of musical bliss! Y'see, it was a smaller venue, a shorter drive, and a closer seat to be had at the All-Starr program, and, my gosh, it WAS my first Beatle, y'know? The assembled band of sorta-superstars took their spots on stage, with the main man waiting just off behind the curtains. Lynn, Rocco, Julie and I waited eagerly for his entrance (okay, Julie didn't really care much, one way or the other, but we dragged her along nonetheless--some day she'll thank us! Except, we'll probably be dead. Anyway...) The familiar opening chords to "It Don't Come Easy' suddenly came out over the massive speakers, and the support acts gathered around their mikes to harmonize the title chorus, leaving the audience to await in anticipation for the imminent arrival of the Starr himself, due to soon chime in with his distinctive vocals as the number gathered unstoppable momentum! And yeah, sure enough, there walking out onto center stage, arms aloft, flashing duel peace signs, was a BEATLE! The thrill I felt at that precise moment was overwhelming--though don't worry, I wasn't gonna faint or anything! Surprisingly, when I first glimpsed Paul two years later, as big a rush as that was, the jolt of personal electricity running through my Beatle sensitive frame wasn't quite as palpable, even though Macca's a bit further up on the Beatles food chain, dig?...
No matter. It was quite a concert, with Ringo doing all of his big songs--"With A Little Help From My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", "Photograph", et al--while being ably spelled by the likes of Jack Bruce and Eric Carmen (among others), delivering their own chart-toppers like "Sunshine Of Your Love", "White Room", "All By Myself" and the awe-inspiring Raspberries classic, "Go All The Way"!! If Ringo went out on tour with the Roundheads, the conglomeration he's assembled for his last few Mark Hudson-produced studio CDs, it'd surely make for a satisfying show, but this radio friendly hits revue that he's taken on the road for over a decade now is also an attractive way to go. It allows for substantial variety, for one thing, as he continually mixes up his musical mates. Go to see the Beatle--get Peter Frampton as a bonus!! Heck, I'd happily go again, even if the rumors of Air Supply joining up on the next go-round actually were true! (Thankfully, they're not...)
So I think I'll celebrate Ringo Day by spinning his latest, "Ringo Rama"--a good, solid disc, though somehow not quite as strong as the previous "Vertical Man" project with mostly the same players--then maybe dip into some of the live recordings issued from earlier All-Starr Bands (ironically, the group we saw is the ONLY one not represented with a full disc in the Ringo CD catalog!?! Anyone out there got a bootleg?) I'll give the high-water mark" Ringo" album a listen, and probably "Sentimental Journey" as well, the before-its'-time assemblage of standards Ringo released while still officially a Beatle. I'll most likely skip the country album, however, and some of the ones he recorded when he was drunk. Those are MY "No-No Song"s!
And to finish things off? How else--with Lorne Greene crooning "Ringo"!! Remember, it don't come easy--either on the docks of Liverpool OR in the verdant fields of the Ponderosa!?!...
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