In a brief appearance at the museum’s media only preview on Tuesday afternoon (with Chris Carter of popular radio show "Breakfast with The Beatles" in attendance), Starr explained that genesis of the exhibit began about a year ago, after his wife/actress Barbara Bach suggested they started cataloging his music-related belongings.
Once the couple and some assistants went through multiple boxes of his personal items that had been saved by Starr’s late mother Elsie, he was amazed to discover a treasure trove from the early days that was “like Aladdin’s cave. [Our family] didn’t have a phone or a car. She saved a letter sent to me by [Hurricanes leader and pre-Beatles employer] Rory Storm about having my money ready.”
Responding to an audience query about his thoughts on The Beatles’ legacy, Starr said, “I’m really proud of the music we made; we were serious players.” The drummer also admitted to being pleased at how the band’s albums are still making a lasting impression on young musicians.
He relayed a story about idolizing Texas bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins and going to the American Consulate at age 18 intending to obtain a work visa in the U.S. just so he could be in the same area.
Dispelling a longstanding rumor about The Beatles’ first meeting with Elvis Presley, Starr said, “we didn’t jam with Elvis. We walked into a room. He was watching TV and had a TV commander. We were like, ‘wow.’" There was more of a kinship with The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, because unlike people like Bill Haley, “Elvis was the first one who wasn’t like my dad.”
Starr's main takeaway from putting together Peace & Love was the fact that “I’ve always really loved the drums.”
This rare exhibit is the first to explore Starr’s entire life and career, from growing up in Liverpool, joining early bands the Raving Texans, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes to The Beatles, becoming a solo artist and the long-running Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band.
It follows previous full-scale Grammy Museum displays devoted to former Beatles band mates John Lennon and George Harrison.
One of Starr’s drum kits is displayed at the first floor entrance (pictured, above). Head to the second floor and that is where Ringo: Peace & Love resides - adjacent to the museum gift shop and Clive Davis Theater (in the Special Exhibits Gallery).
Quotes on small drum heads about the musician from his peers, unique Starr artwork and photos he shot line the walls. Really cool stuff.
Interactive sections allow visitors to remix a live version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” by the All-Starr Band, take a drum lesson with Ringo, sing along with him and listen to the first few Beatles singles.
A whimsical 17-minute film by director and longtime Starr associate Brent Carpenter (“Larry Sanders Show,” “Caroline in the City”) is available for viewing.
It includes a collage of rarely seen clips spanning The Beatles years right up until July 2010, when Paul McCartney joined the All-Starr group onstage at Radio City Music Hall in NYC to serenade Ringo on “Birthday.”
Besides the drum kits Starr played on Let It Be, Abbey Road, The Beatles (White Album) and TV’s “Ed Sullivan Show,” the awesome displays feature the cape he wore in Help!, the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band suit (my personal fave), the red jacket worn during the filming of The Beatles' rooftop concert and more.
Among the fascinating memorabilia items are telegrams, contracts, press photos, Beatles toys, signs, personal letters, photographs and documents from the Starkey family and Ringo's days with The Beatles.
Note: plenty of Beatles keepsakes are available to purchase at the Grammy gift shop, where a vintage console television unit shows B&W Fab Four clips.
All told, the exhibit is a must see for Beatles fans, young and old.
Ringo: Peace & Love info:
Runs through March 2014
Museum hours: 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Regular adult admission: $12.95.
Other prices and discounts at grammymuseum.org
The Grammy Museum is at 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles (corner of Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street), in the L.A. LIVE district. The Museum entrance is located on Figueroa Street.