WITH THIS RINGO ...
By DAN AQUILANTE http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/71616.htm
Ringo Starr, who has a new album out, is also singing the praises of his wife of 22 years, Barbara Bach. Here they're in Midtown.
- Ronald Asadorian/Splash News
March 24, 2003 -- WHETHER he's the best drummer in the world may be a matter for debate, but no one can challenge that Ringo Starr is certainly the best-known.
He's also one of the luckiest - not only in matters of the wallet (he still earns $20 million annually), but in matters of the heart as well.
The "it won't last" chorus that surrounded his 1981 marriage to actress Barbara Bach - after they met on the set of the stone-age comedy "Caveman" (six years after his divorce from his first wife, Maureen Cox) - has been proved wrong by a 22-year union that's bucked the rock love-'em-and-leave-'em tradition.
"I'm in love with that woman, and I'm blessed that she loves me," Starr told The Post, stretching out his arms to illustrate his point.
"It's not like we're on cloud nine every day, we have our ups and downs, but overall it's great. All you have to do is remember why you're together in the first place, and you get through the rough times."
Those rough times have included the 62-year-old beat-master's successful battle to stay sober - and his ongoing efforts to build a solo recording career outside the shadow of his former group.
"I love America, and Americans love me," says Starr, on the eve of the release of his latest album, "Ringorama." "I was blessed. America's always given me my due as one of the best drummers in the world."
Though that's still not true in his native England, "That doesn't matter anymore," he says. "I know how I play . . . I am one of the finest drummers in rock."
He's as quick with his wit as he is with a pair of sticks.
Back when The Beatles were first making their mark in America, a reporter accused the band of being second-rate Elvis impersonators. Ringo defused a tense situation by immediately offering a second-rate pelvis swivel.
"I've always been very quick with funny lines, it's my character," he says. "But I have to watch that I don't live on that. Humor is a way to deflect things. I've used it to not deal with true emotions."
On "Ringorama," Starr proves his funny bone is still well-oiled on songs such as "Missouri Loves Company" and"I Think Therefore I Rock & Roll."
There are also a few love songs on the disc.
But if there is one standout number, it's "Never Without You," a bright tribute to the good ol' days - and his late friend George Harrison.
That wasn't his original intention, Starr says. "It was about a band starting up. It didn't really relate to George at all."
But with the lyrics "We were young, it was fun and we couldn't lose," "I immediately thought of the four of us - that's how it felt."
So the song became a dedication to George.
"If George was alive, I would have asked him to do the guitar solo on it."
In his stead, that honor went to Starr's neighbor Eric Clapton. "He lives 10 minutes away," says Starr. "So I called him, and he came over without even hearing the track first."
Spontaneity is the hallmark of the entire record, says Starr, who considers himself part of a garage band - albeit "a garage with some very sophisticated equipment."
Though he continues to strike out on his own, Starr says his Beatle roots are never far from his mind.
"God's love lets us remember the good times, but if I thought they were all good times, I'd just be fooling myself. There were angry moments and disappointing moments - that's just what life is about. But look at what we did. I was a Beatle, and the music is still here today. It has held up. I'm proud to be a part of that.
"Back then I remember a woman holding up a baby and shouting to me, 'His first words were 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' " said Starr.
"Is Britney singing anything the kids are learning today?"
Ringo Starr brings his All-Starr Band to Radio City Music Hall for a one-night engagement July 29. Tickets go on sale Saturday.