Ringo Starr, 49 years into post-Beatles’ solo career, set for Harrah’s gig, then Woodstock

Ringo Starr is shown performing at his 2018 concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. He kicks off his 2019 tour with his All Starr Band Thursday at Harrah’s Resort SoCal.
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Ringo Starr will be making up for lost time, half a century after the fact, when he performs this summer at an upstate New York concert commemorating the 50th anniversary edition of Woodstock. San Diego area fans can get a preview — at least of Starr’s performance — when the former Beatles’ drummer in opens his 2019 world tour Thursday night at Harrah’s Resort SoCal with the latest iteration of his All Starr Band.

Starr missed the original Woodstock festival in August 1969. Depending on the source, there are several possible reasons The Beatles turned down an invitation to play at the almost instantly legendary three-day music marathon.

They range from John Lennon’s U.S. visa issues at the time; Lennon’s insistence the Woodstock promoters also book Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band, the group led by his wife; or (more likely) the fact that — by the summer of 1969 — The Beatles, who had retired from touring in 1966 — were on the verge of imploding.

Whatever the reason, Starr seems like a good fit for Woodstock this year. He performs Aug. 15 with 1969 Woodstock alums Arlo Guthrie and Edgar Winter at The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which is located on the site where the original festival was held.

At 78, Starr is the same age as such still musically active Woodstock veterans as Joan Baez, former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh.

Woodstock’s advertising slogan was “3 days of peace and music.” Starr has long injected the phrase “peace and love” into virtually every one of his interviews and press releases.

Witness the Jan. 28 release announcing new dates on his 2019 tour. It reads, in part: “We can’t wait to get out there and share the joy with you — every show is always such a wonderful Peace & Love fest between us and our audiences.”

Since launching his first solo tour with his first All Starr Band in 1989, Starr has concluded virtually every one of his concerts by performing “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

The Beatles’ classic, written by Lennon and Paul McCartney, featured Starr on lead vocals when it appeared on the band’s landmark 1967 album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Two years later, Joe Cocker’s impassioned Woodstock performance of “With a Little Help From My Friends” was a highlight of the festival and the subsequent Woodstock film documentary and three-disc soundtrack album.

What else can fans expect to hear from Starr — who is now at work on a new solo album and plays on one song on Jenny Lewis’ new album — at his tour-opening concert tonight here at Harrah’s?

The answer, apart from his solo hits and some staples he sang with The Beatles, can be found in the musical credits of his band mates.

Or, as Starr told me in a 2003 Union-Tribune interview about his criterion for picking All Starr members: “You have to have hits from the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s — I have all you need from the ’60s. You have to play an instrument, you have to want to have fun ... and you have to support the rest of the band. Once we get all that straightened out, we have a lot of fun. I don’t go on the road to be tortured, especially by my own band!”

The current edition of the All Stars features Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, former Santana singer and keyboardist Gregg Rolie, former Men At Work singer and rhythm guitarist Colin Hay, former David Lee Roth/Woody Herman drummer Gregg Bissonette, saxophonist, flutist and singer Warren Ham, and — returning to the lineup after more than a decade— Average White Band bassist, guitarist and singer Hamish Stuart.

Does that mean Starr will be laying down a solid funk groove on the drums for his All Starr Band’s version of “Pick Up The Pieces,” Average White Band’s enduring, James Brown-inspired 1974 dance-floor favorite?

In three words: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band — 30th anniversary tour

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Events Center, Harrah’s Resort SoCal, 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center.

Tickets: $99-$179, plus service charges (must be 18 or older to attend)

Phone: (800) 745-3000


Twitter @georgevarga