RINGO STARR...? A bit of a douchebag really...
There, I said it.
I’ll no doubt upset a great many people with this opening statement but hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion…
Over the last couple of days since interviewing him I’ve answered a lot of questions from a lot people both in and out of work.
‘How was he?’
‘What was it like interviewing him?’
‘Was he cool?’
And so forth.
If I’m honest I’ve skirted around giving my honest opinion because, I guess, it’s hard to admit that a person you’ve held in such high esteem for much of your life – is actually just that… a bit of a douche.
I love the Beatles. I've always loved the Beatles. In fact, I distinctly remember singing along to the song, ‘Yellow Submarine’ – which Ringo actually originally sang – as a five or six-year-old at primary school.
It was probably the first real song that I truly loved.
And Ringo, the kind of goofy loveable character that he’s always seemed to be, was difficult not to love too.
But after meeting him at a red carpet event in his honor in Hollywood on Monday night, my opinion of him has changed somewhat.
It’s always the risk when you meet someone famous. That fear that whoever it is will never truly live up to the expectation that you imagined they would.
It’s an unfair test really.
Will they make you laugh? Would they be so friendly they’d act like a long-lost friend? Would they invite you for drinks to meet other ‘cool’ famous people?
Sadly these people are nearly always the opposite of what you think.
I’ve met a lot of famous people in my years as a journalist. I’m also lucky to have semi-famous friends.
My friends thankfully have remained so because they aren’t complete douchebags.
Anyhow, I digress.
On Monday night I was reporting on an event organized by multi-Oscar-nominated Hollywood director (Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Mulholland Drive), David Lynch, to honor the former Beatle drummer with the ‘Lifetime of Peace and Love Award’.
|'Peace & Love' poster|
The venue was the El Rey Theater in West Hollywood which looked like it was amazing – several decades ago.
That’s the bizarre thing about Hollywood. It's an illusion. It’s smoke and mirrors.
Through a camera lens it looks amazing. The streets could actually be paved with gold.
But this run-down theater – which was just about to play host to a member of arguably the most famous band the world has ever known – was a few doors up from a Starbucks and an Office Depot.
Anyway, as the hours ticked away towards the event, excitement grew and we took our positions.
|Take your place among the stars|
Large lettering had been placed on the building’s façade stating what the event was all about and, no sooner had the magical rolled up red carpet appeared, so to did a flurry of photographers and autograph collectors who almost seemed to be hiding down the street, lurking until the opportune moment to pounce.
|The El Rey Theater, West Hollywood|
One very obvious fan camped out in a nearby doorway with no less than 30 vinyl albums by The Beatles and Ringo himself.
With an hour to go before the concert began the stars began arriving on the red carpet.
Legendary rock drummer Kenny Aronoff was first followed quickly by a couple of up-and-coming artists who no-one seemed to have heard of.
Cue awkward interviews as everyone asked every question under the sun apart from: “Er… and you would be…?”
Then came Ben Folds who was actually a really lovely guy and proper talkative.
And then, the five or six camped-out photographers, quickly became 100+ (or so it seemed).
A blacked out car pulled up behind us and out clambered Ringo together with his wife and former Bond-girl, Barbara Bach.
Cue madness. The intense frenzy of camera flashes quickly turned night into day.
|The 'Starr' of the show|
After giving an interview to Access Hollywood and another local LA network, Ringo approached my cameraman and I.
|We interview Ringo|
As a bit of a joke I asked him – surrounded by dozens of cameramen, photographers, celebrities and fans – if he thought ‘Beatlemania’ was returning to the U.S.
I thought it was quite a witty shoe-in given the amount of attention being paid right now to Paul and Ringo performing as part of the Grammys.
"Well… no," he responded. Point blank.
To give him credit he did then answer my question about how honored he felt to be receiving the award, but then ended sarcastically saying "we’ve got a great show… pity you won’t be joining us..."
I felt like showing him my ‘press pass’ for the event, but instead I smiled and let him enjoy his moment.
And then he wandered on to have his photo taken several thousand more times.
My opinion of him changed there and then.
Maybe he’s bored of doing interviews seeing as he’s done more than most in his life.
Maybe he just didn’t like me.
But I guess when you’re the ‘world’s richest drummer’ with a net value of $300million you can say what you want, in whatever way you want, to anyone.
I guess I should be honored or just thankful that he stopped and talked to me.
However the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
Within seconds my mood – and the general atmosphere on the red carpet – quickly became electric again with eight words muttered by an excitable woman standing behind me.
“Oh, my, GOD… it’s Jim FUCKING Carrey…”
All of a sudden a largely muso-focused event quickly became ‘A’ list.
Cue so many more camera flashes that David Lynch thanked the assembled press for the “cool light show” before scurrying inside.
|Every the character|
Carrey talked abut his love for The Beatles and how he sings his daughter to sleep singing some of the group’s classic hits.
Who’d have known it.
Jim even jokingly told off his publicist who was trying to hurry him along the carpet by saying... "you're always telling me what to do... I like talking!"
Some other familiar faces such as Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton - my absolute favourite on the night (and son and daughter) - then joined the line up before they all flocked inside for the show.
|Peter Frampton and son and daughter|
So there you have it. Monday night was my first taste of Hollywood.
My first trip to LA, my first time interviewing people on a red carpet, and my first real disappointment interviewing a star.
Of course I’ll keep listening to The Beatles but I’ll try and forget about that bloke at the back playing drums.