It started as a hobby, but Ringo Starr has let the photographs he took as a Beatle and in later years tell the real story of his life. On Oct. 26, he talked about some of those photos from his recent book “Photograph” with Little Steven Van Zandt at the Strand Bookstore in New York City. “Little Steven interviewed Ringo for close to an hour, and Ringo shared his memories on select photos done as a slide show,” said Ken Michaels, host of “Every Little Thing” and co-host of “Things We Said Today.”
“To spend 30 minutes a few feet away from Ringo, and to hear him tell the stories behind a set of the wonderful photos chosen by Little Steven Van Zandt, from his book
“Photograph,” the fee of just the cost of the book was absolutely worth every penny!,” said Kris Tash. “Not only did we get the book, but included was a commemorative cloth
carrier bag with Ringo’s name and photos on it, as well as a special book plate which was attached to the inner flyleaf commemorating the U.S. launch of the book at the Strand bookstore with the date on it and a facsimile of Ringo’s signature in metallic gold. This was a day we will never forget!”
Tash said the crowd was small when they got to the store. “We arrived at the bookstore and got on line at noon time, with about 10 people ahead of us,” she said. “At about 1:30, as store personnel prepared to usher in small groups at a time, the line had grown almost the full length of the block between E 12 and E 13th Streets.” Those with VIP tags, who had purchased one of the limited edition prints, were ushered in first. “Luckily,” she said, “we were part of the first non VIP group allowed in, and managed to get near the front, right behind the seats for the VIPs.”
Ringo and Little Steven were introduced, and came into the room. “They mounted a raised platform and he and Steven sat down in two armchairs,” Tash said. “Ringo then took a photo of the gathered crowd, who were loudly applauding for him.” Little Steven picked out the photos for the event, asking Ringo to comment on each. The screen on which the photos would be shown was to the side and somewhat behind them, which made it a little tough for him, as he had to keep turning around to see which photo was up on the screen, she said.
They started with a photo of Ringo with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. “He laughingly admitted, OK, there were some photos in the book he didn’t take himself, but included anyway.” “Playing in Hamburg with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and the Beatles in the same club: Between both bands they played 12 hours a night. That’s how they earned their chops,” Ringo said, according to Ken Michaels.
He showed a photo of him with Paul and George and a young lady backstage at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton taken while he was still with The Hurricanes. “He commented on how the girl in the photo was making eyes at Paul and how Paul was gonna get lucky!,” Tash said.
For a photo of a young Julian and Zak together on a boat in Weybridge, Tash said Ringo recalled he and John used to get together to be “dads” and do stuff with their sons. “On Guy Fawkes Day, they bought a bunch of fireworks. Then he laughingly said, ‘Everyone knows in those days we used to smoke those funny cigarettes. He said the fireworks were suddenly exploding all over the place, and the boys got to see their dads running for their lives!” “It scared Julian and Zak,” said Ken Michaels.
When showing a photo of actor Wilfred Brambell, he called him the Shakespearean actor, and Tash said he told the story of his walk along the river scene in “A Hard Day’s Night.” He said he’d stayed out all night at a nightclub and went directly to the set from the club, alluding he was either drunk or very hung over. For the scene, they wanted to portray him as dejected and lonely and said he felt dejected and lonely!”
Next was a photo of him with Harry Nilsson, both in costume in a scene from “Son of Dracula.” Ringo played Merlin and he talked about how the film premiered in Atlanta. “He spoke about how that they’d have to show the film in towns that only had one theater, or everyone else would go to the other theater in town playing a different film!” Commenting on a photo of John Lennon showing an Epic record album, Ringo said John had the ability to twist himself up into amazing positions and that he never knew anybody else who could do it. “He said that was how John would relax.”
Ringo and Steven gave everyone the peace sign and Ringo explained how he got his stage name when others started calling him “Rings” because of all the rings he wore, and it transitioned to “Ringo” because of his love of Westerns and characters called “Ringo” in the Westerns. “He looked at Steven’s hands and laughed, ‘You are wearing more rings than I am!’ Indeed he was. “Van Zandt had rings almost on every finger, whereas Ringo had on only his wedding ring!,” Tash said.