More than 50 years have passed since The Beatles recorded and released the record known as The White Album. Yet some things haven’t changed over those five decades. For starters, Paul McCartney is still out there singing “Blackbird” to adoring fans.
Ringo Starr is also still alive and well (and touring) in 2019. On the occasion of his 79th birthday, Ringo celebrated with his annual peace and love-fest. For many Beatles fans, The White Album represents the opposite of that feeling — it was more like the beginning of the end.
Yet Ringo doesn’t linger over the bad moments. Speaking with Parade, he remembered The White Album as a time when the Fab Four got back to rocking the way the band had in its early days. Instead of the strings and flutes of Sgt Pepper’s, The Beatles were attacking with heavy guitars.
On John Lennon’s “Yer Blues,” the four band members packed into a tiny studio to get a true “live” sound on the record. Those tight quarters, combined with the heaviness of the song, marked the peak of the album for Ringo.
Ringo ranks ‘Yer Blues’ as the high point of the classic ‘White Album.’
In an interview with Parade’s Jim Farber, Ringo discussed his age (79!), his sobriety (now at 30 years and counting), and his All Starr Band (still playing gigs). After a respectful round of questions on current happenings, Farber got to the Beatles stuff, starting with the tensions of The White Album.
Ringo didn’t bite when it came to the idea that album sent the group under. “We were not falling apart at all until we split,” he said. “We played together right up until that. I love The White Album.” Specifically, Ringo loved the energy in the studio.
“I mean, Pepper was great, but there was a lot of sitting around,” he told Parade. “We were like studio guys. This time, we were back to being a band.” The intensity of recording “Yer Blues” still gets him going. “We’re in a six-foot room — amps, drums, vocal mics. No separation. It was like, ‘Yeah!'”
Beatles fans who’ve seen Anthology (1995) may recall Ringo’s enthusiasm for the track then. “‘Yer Blues,’ you can’t top it,” he said. “It was this group that was together; it was like grunge rock of the sixties, really. Grunge blues.”
However, just after that song got recorded, Ringo became overwhelmed by the negativity in the studio.
Days after recording ‘Yer Blues,’ Ringo got fed up and walked out on the band.
While Ringo’s probably better off sticking to the good memories, it’s clear The White Album wasn’t a party for everyone involved. After all, John and Paul almost got into a fistfight in the studio, and chief engineer Geoff Emerick quit on the band during the sessions.
Ringo himself walked out on the group the week after they recorded “Yer Blues.” Frustrated with his own playing and the band in general, Ringo gathered up his family and went on a holiday in Italy that lasted about two weeks.
Looking back, Ringo thought he might quit the band for good. Instead, he got a warm postcard from his bandmates in London begging him to come home. He agreed to return, finished The White Album, and stayed strong through Let It Be and Abbey Road. But you know, it didn’t come easy.