Soon-to-be two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ringo Starr will bring his All Starr Band to the State Theatre in New Brunswick on Oct. 25. Tickets, priced from $65 to $175, go on sale April 3 at 11 a.m.
The current version of the All Starr Band — which has had an ever-changing lineup since its initial formation, in 1989 — includes Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather of Toto, Gregg Rolie of Santana and Journey, Richard Page of Mr. Mister, Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette.
Starr is on the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine. In the interview, he talks, among other things, about his April 18 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Award for Musical Excellence.
Starr, of course, is in the hall already as a Beatle, and his fellow ex-Beatles — Paul McCartney, the late John Lennon and the late George Harrison – already have been inducted a second time, as solo artists. But Starr’s solo career, rightly or wrongly, has never been deemed worthy of that honor, and so he’s being given the Award for Musical Excellence.
How did this come about? Well, the Rolling Stone article sheds a little light on that question. In it, McCartney talks about having dinner with Robbie Robertson of The Band, who mentioned that Starr wasn’t in the hall as a solo artist.
“I said, ‘Let me see what I can do,’ ” McCartney told Rolling Stone. “And I talked to Bruce Springsteen and I talked to Dave Grohl, and they both thought he should be in. And I said I’d do the induction. That took care of it.”
Quite a rigorous process, right? A couple of phone calls and, voila, Ringo is in the hall for the second time.
So what is this Award for Musical Excellence? Well, it evolved out of the now-defunct Sideman category and, in the past, has gone to Leon Russell, who has major credits as a recording artist, sideman, songwriter and producer but hadn’t previously been honored by the hall in any way; engineer and studio owner Cosimo Matassa; producer-engineers Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns; and Springsteen’s longtime backing group, The E Street Band.
When Starr’s induction was announced in December, the hall’s web site said the Award for Musical Excellence honors “those musicians, producers and others who have spent their careers out of the spotlight working with major artists on various parts of their recording and live careers.” That has been changed; the site now says the award “honors musicians, songwriters and producers who have spent their life creating important and memorable music.”
So, okay, they’ve changed the definition to make Starr fit. But the bigger issue is this:
Rock fans have long thought that those who run the hall simply put in whoever they want, and keep others out, according to their whims. The E Street Band, for instance, wasn’t deemed worthy of induction for many years after they were eligible. And then suddenly they were. Why? We’ll never know.
Was there more than McCartney’s call behind Starr being chosen for this honor? Perhaps. But if there was, it will likely remain hidden.
There is no doubt that Starr deserves any award the hall decides to give him. But greater transparency regarding the selection process would give the hall a boost in the credibility department that it could really use, since every year, people seem to spend more time grousing about the people who didn’t get in than praising the people who did.
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