Ringo Starr Tearfully Recalls Deaths Of John Lennon and George Harrison In New Interview

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

In a new interview with former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, Ringo Starr has shared revealing details about the deaths of fellow Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.

“We lose a lot of people in our business early,” Starr shares with Grohl and Rolling Stone reporter Hank Shteamer.

“When John went,” he continues, “I was in the Bahamas. I was getting a phone call from my stepkids in L.A. saying, ‘Something’s happened to John.’ And then they called and said, ‘John’s dead.’”

“I didn’t know what to do,” Starr laments. “And I still well up that some bastard shot him. But I just said, ‘We’ve got to get a plane.’ We got a plane to New York, and you don’t know what you can do. We went to the apartment… And Yoko just said, ‘Well, you just play with Sean. Keep Sean busy.’ And that’s what we did.”

Starr then links the event to his cover with Paul McCartney of John Lennon’s ‘Grow Old With Me’ on recently released album What’s My Name?

“The interesting thing is this guy Jack Douglas, the producer, brought this track of John’s to me just this year,” he confides. “I’d never heard it. So he’s still in my life. And so it’s on the new album. But why he gave me this CD is [because] at the beginning, John says, ‘Oh, that would be great for Richard Starkey.’”

“I’m emotional now thinking of him 40 years ago talking about me on his tape and thinking of me,” Ringo says, his thoughts gradually returning to Lennon’s death in 1980. “The four of us were great friends with a couple of side issues. And it was far out. So anyway, I didn’t know how to act. And then I got back to L.A., and I grieved, and then of course you always go through the grief.”

“And George, the same,” Ringo then adds, becoming emotional to the point of tears. “I’m such an old crybaby. He’s laying there very ill — not long. And I’ve got to go to Boston, ’cause my daughter’s having an operation. And so I said, ‘Well, you know, I’ve got to go, George,’ and he says, ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ You know, he’s dying in a bit: ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ How many people say great things like that to you, really give themselves?”

Ringo Starr and Grohl talk about several other fascinating topics including skiffle, Starr’s early memories of Liverpool, ‘Yellow Submarine’ and taking speed in Hamburg.

Read the conversation in its entirety here.

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