Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ringo Rocks Durham

Ringo Rocks Durham With A Little Help From His Friends. On Sunday, July 11, 2010, I found myself alone in the company of several thousand fans in the company of Mr. Richard Starkey, the former drummer of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. You might know him as Ringo Starr, the drummer of The Beatles. The new Durham Performing Arts Center beside the new Durham Bulls Baseball Stadium was the site of the concert. This time last year I found myself in the baseball stadium listening to Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Bob Dylan outdoors. I call this my annual July visit with 1960s icons tour. Ringo and his All Star Band have been touring in eleven different versions since 1989. The 2010 group includes Ringo Starr, Rick Derringer, Richard Page of Mr. Mister, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Wally Palmar of The Romantics and on drums Gregg Bissonette.

Set List From July 11, 2010
It Don't Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
Honey Don't (Ringo Starr)
Choose Love (Ringo Starr)
Hang On Sloopy (Rick Derringer)
Free Ride (Edgar Winter)
Talking In Your Sleep (Wally Palmar)
I Wanna Be Your Man (Ringo Starr)
Dream Weaver (Gary Wright)
Kyrie (Richard Page)
The Other Side of Liverpool (Starr)
Yellow Submarine (Ringo Starr)
Frankenstein [Edgar Winter]
Peace Dream (Ringo Starr)
Back Off Boogaloo (Ringo Starr)
What I Like About You ( Wally Palmar)
Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo/Eruption (Derringer)
Boys (Ringo Starr)
Love Is Alive (Gary Wright)
Broken Wings (Richard Page)
Photograph (Ringo Starr)
Act Naturally (Ringo Starr)
With a Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace a Chance (Ringo Starr)

What surprised me about this show that I went too almost as a lark as how tight a band these guys were and how they played as a team showing the same enthusiasm for the other guys music as they did for their own. The energy level was high considering the age of the musicians. Ringo just turned 70 and was/is the oldest Beatle, then John, Paul, and George in age. During the show the crowd spontaneously sang Happy Birthday to Ringo, who quipped he was still looking for the present. He interacted with the crowd often making jokes about few CDs his new Y-Not album had sold doing a head count of the audience with copies.

I learned that Hang On Sloopy was the state Rock and Roll Song for the state of Ohio, but I did not realize that Rick Derringer sang it. He was a great guitar player including an almost perfect rendition of Van Halen’s Eruption at the end of his own Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo. Edgar Winter, who I listened to as a teenager, was also an amazing musician going from sax, to drums, to keyboards and that was just on Frankenstein. His song Autumn was one of my favorite ballads from the 1970s. Palmar had high energy and probably the weakest musician in this band playing rhythm guitar, but he kept everyone out of their seats singing two of The Romantics big hits with the audience yelling “Hey” on almost every line of What I Like About You. Richard Page held down bass duties and delivered two strong vocals on Mr. Mister songs Kyrie and Broken Wings that were hits in the mid-1980s.

Gary Wright sang a remarkable version of Dream Weaver that allowed most to sit down along with his Love Is Alive, but that was not because he was not good, just perfect timing in a show that most people stood for two hours. Wright’s voice was strong and he told the story that he played on George Harrison’s first solo album All Things Must Pass along with Ringo and that he went with George to India. Harrison gave Wright a copy of a book about Indian Philosophy and that there was a passage about weaving of dreams that led to Wright’s most popular song.

Ringo joked that, “George Harrison never gave me a damn book.” Implying his song writing might have been stronger. The fact is that two of Starr’s most popular songs Photograph and It Don’t Come Easy were co-written with Harrison. It makes one wonder that if this song writing duo had worked together more what might have happened. While they would never be Lennon-McCartney, they did make some beautiful music together.

Of course, the reason for the show sold out show was Ringo. He did Boys, which he noted he did with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes before joining that other band. He never once mentioned Beatles in the show or Paul McCartney. His later solo work mostly about Peace and Love, where repeats of the 1960s mantra of All You Need Is Love and even mentioned John Lennon in a song about Imagining a Peace Dream. While the naïve worldview is a bit outdated in the cynical times we live, there is no doubt that Ringo still believes it.

There were songs that you might have wanted from Ringo especially more from his wildly popular 1973 Ringo Album or Octopus’s Garden. When I was learning to play the guitar about 1973 after spending all summer in Theodore Guynn’s tobacco field making enough money to buy an FG-75 Yamaha acoustic, my teacher Sam Dobyns and I learned most of the songs from Ringo as they were not very difficult to follow the chords and gave us common ground to play together.

It is not every day you get to spend time with a living Beatle and these guys were very good and very professional, who enjoyed each other’s company and the energy from the crowd. It is not every show that you hear a former Beatle sing Carl Perkin’s Honey Don’t, which The Beatles covered or Buck Owens’s Act Naturally. Starr loved the former Hee Haw star and all musicians of Ringo’s age loved Carl Perkins. Starr brought the house down when he sang Yellow Submarine and I Wanna Be Your Man, but a more fitting finale for the show could not have been that With A Little Help From My Friends, the Lennon-McCartney song penned for Starr’s baritone from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Raleigh News and Observer Story

Photos from the concert

Durham Herald Sun Story

Paul McCartney showed up for Ringo’s Birthday Concert at Radio City in New York

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