Ringo is a tosser and other stories.

So, you might have seen in the news that Ringo Starr isn’t going to sign stuff anymore.

Boo hoo, says the world.

I’m a Beatles fan of longstanding, but I just figured that the man is 68 years old and has been signing all sorts of rubbishy nonsense since 1963. Can you imagine the ridiculous pressure he’s been under for forty-five years?

No, you can’t. Trust me, you can’t. There’s maybe ten people in the world world who know what it’s like to be Ringo Starr. Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Madonna and… maybe not even ten. Oh, don’t forget that for all that time people have been taking the piss out of him and his talent – including one man who will remain nameless and murdered on his own doorstep who once said that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.

I can only assume that the demands upon him have been unrelenting since then. I think now of course, of the Anthology and how tired of it he sounded when talking about the Phillipines, or the time he got death threats from nutjobs who wanted to make an example of him as a Jew (he’s not Jewish, but let’s not let the truth get in the way), or how they came to detest each other in the end.

I remember also reading years ago that Ringo dates most all things he signs because people had been getting his autograph in the 90s and passing it off as a Beatles-era autograph.

So it would be true to say that I was on his side. I thought he probably had his reasons for saying he won’t sign stuff anymore and that was that. Of course, it then hit the mainstream media and I was awoken the other day by BBC Breakfast playing the video. That was when I changed my mind.

We all know that those cheeky Beatles like a laugh and can/could be very dry about it. No, I don’t think that’s what the video was about. He sounds so aggressively angry… that’s what got me. It sounds like he’s been offended by something or somebody and is AS MAD AS HELL AND WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!?!?! OMG OMG OMG!!!! Even when he’s saying "Peace and Love!" he sounds like he wants to punch someone.

I suppose most people are disappointed because Ringo’s stepped out of his neat little pigeonhole where he’s Affable Ringo. Amusing Ringo. I am now reminded of a quote by the Curmudgeonly Beatle, wherein George points out that fans gave their screams but the Beatles "gave our nervous systems." We have taken so much from them for so long, demanded so much more and been so angrily disappointed when they don’t/can’t/won’t deliver…

But Ringo, Ringo, Ringo, why be so snappish?

The video is so aggressive. Just why does he need to announce that he won’t sign stuff anymore? Why not just quietly stop? Is it some kind of publicity gag, because if so there must be better ways for Richard Starkey MBE to get attention than going at his fans.

Fans, like customers, aren’t always right. I know some fans are awful… but as James Stewart pointed out to Raquel Welch on the set of Bandolero!, stars are nothing without their fans. Perhaps not quite nothing, but certainly bordering on irrelevant. Also, let us not forget that a lot of us have a good deal of friendly, quite innocent affection for that man because of the joy and brilliance that he and his old pals offered by way of the occasional long playing record and a few 45s… It’s never even occurred to me to send fanmail to Ringo, but if I happened to meet him somewhere, I’d like to think that if I were polite and non-stupid that I’d get politeness in return and now I can’t be sure.

He does have a dark side and always has – I recall seeing The Kids Are Alright and the way he was with Moon in that. He was a really heavy drinker for a very long time. I can only imagine that he has been a total wanker in his day, but it’s been hidden and/or forgotten. He was also quite honestly, a bit of a dick when he was on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross not so long ago…

Maybe he’s just reached a point where he doesn’t care what people think any more. Good for him… except he doesn’t have to turn on people to not care. He doesn’t have to be nice to anyone and he doesn’t have to prove anything. That doesn’t mean he has to be mean or aggressive.

This has left him somehow… diminished in my eyes, not because he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life (not that long, no matter what happens next) scribbling his name, but because of the manner he adopted. He doesn’t have to be nice… but I don’t have to respect him for it either.

*

In other musical news, I went to the opera for the first time last night. It was that famous double bill Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, which is why I went – I’ve been looking to see Cav for literally years… and the English National Opera opened the season with it. We had only OK seats which were fifty quid each, but because it wasn’t amplified the sound was a bit rubbish – glad I didn’t go for the cheaper tickets.

Cavalleria rusticana was moved into the early 20th Century and was perfectly adequately staged with only a little restriction of view of parts of the set. Santuzza was wonderful… I thought the Intermezzo lacked something – scope, perhaps – but the finale was brilliant.

Pagliacci was less successful. It was adapted to be set in the 1970s or such judging by the costumes, but I don’t think it worked – the libretto was jarring with ‘fuck’ appearing more than once and turns of phrases like "I’m going to screw you over", which is amusing but doesn’t really fit the music. The only reason it worked at all was for the play-within-an-opera which made a lot of sense as a bawdy 70s sex comedy.

The fellow playing Canio was fine, but I had the rather unfair thought that "He’s no Lanza." Of course he’s no Mario Lanza, who is? And hell, Lanza was no Caruso and so on and so forth. I happen to prefer Lanza to Caruso, anyway.

Loved Cav, could’ve lived without Pag.

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6 Responses to Ringo is a tosser and other stories.

  1. annearchy says:

    I’m a bit sad about Ringo. I guess maybe he had enough, after 45 years?

    Oh, my guy Monte will be playing IN LONDON Friday night:

    10/17/2008 7:00 PM Monte Montgomery Ages 21+ Show @ 7PM http://www.shepherds-bush-empire.co.uk/
    Age Limit: 21+ Tickets: 16.50

    Just a thought πŸ™‚

  2. logansrogue says:

    I just shrugged my shoulders and thought “Well, there goes the ‘Nicest Beatle’ label.” I don’t hold it against him. I don’t think any better of him for it, but I really have seen so many ridiculously famous people do douchy things that I just can’t let it upset me anymore. I mean, I loved John Lennon and he was the angriest son-of-a-bitch asshole ever. I don’t require these people to be nice – I’m only listening to their music. You could say I was ambivalent.

    I wish I had the attention span to watch entire operas. I have a few favourite tracks from famous operas, and I like listening to Dame Joan and Pavarotti, but I really know sweet fuck all about it as genre. Sometimes I think I really fail as a music lover.

    • apollarock says:

      “Ringo, you were great in Lisztomania.”

      IZ DED.

      I don’t need them to be nice either. I especially don’t want fake… it was the anger that annoyed me.

      Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci are both one act operas so they’re very short.

      There is no fail, there is only what you love and what you don’t love.

      • logansrogue says:

        Oh dude, I know you don’t, you’re an Errol Flynn fan for God’s sakes LOL! I agree, he didn’t need to be so angry.

        Heh. I like a lot of the stuff that my Mum listens to. I don’t know what it IS exactly, but I enjoy it. πŸ˜›

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