Ringo Starr stopped into the Grammy Museum in L.A. on Tuesday to give the media a preview of the new exhibition “Ringo: Peace & Love,” which opens Wednesday. The first major exploration of the life and career of the man born Richard Starkey, it’s also the museum’s first exhibit dedicated to a drummer, one described Tuesday by museum executive director Robert Santelli as “the most important drummer in the history of rock 'n' roll.”
Starr said that just last year he and his wife, actress Barbara Bach, had decided to start archiving various bits of memorabilia that have been stashed away across more than half a century. That decision dovetailed perfectly, he said, with Santelli’s call asking if he’d be interested in participating in an exhibit at the facility, which previously assembled examinations of the careers of John Lennon and George Harrison.
The show has a wealth of items likely to capture the imaginations of Beatles fans. It includes clothing he wore during the Fab Four’s heyday — such as his military-inspired satin suit from the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” his cape from the movie “Help!” and his red jacket from the 1969 rooftop concert featured in the film “Let It Be.”
Starr also contributed a couple of drum kits, including the signature Ludwig black pearl set with The Beatles logo on the bass drum head as well as the one played while the group recorded “Abbey Road,” “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album”) and “Let It Be.”
The show’s interactive exhibits involve stations where visitors can explore his new e-book “Photograph,” while wanna-be Starrs can sit behind a kit and play drums along with Ringo, or step into a "Yellow Submarine" booth and sing that 1966 hit with him.
Another stop features three mixing stations where visitors can try their hands at adjusting the instrumental and vocal balance of his 1967 recording of “With A Little Help From My Friends” from “Sgt. Pepper.”
The latter may seem like sacrilege to some purists, but not Starr, who recalled the fun he had fiddling with the mix on George Harrison’s “Give Me Love, Give Me Peace On Earth” single a couple of years ago during the museum’s Harrison tribute.
“You wouldn’t want them remixing the whole album,” the 72-year-old Starr said with a laugh in the museum’s offices before his news conference to discuss the show. “But it’s just one song — I made my own mix of George’s song and I loved it.”
During that show, no less than Brian Wilson asked “Is that a good thing?” upon learning that fans could tinker with an artist’s vision of what their music should sound like. “It’s OK, Brian Wilson!” Starr said with a broad smile.
A more extensive report on the Starr exhibit, which is scheduled to run through March, will appear in Calendar later this week.
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2