Ringo Starr mixes COVID caution with rocker pals to make album

RINGO Starr’s latest album Zoom In

RINGO STARR has been working from home.

The former Beatle released his latest album on Friday, a five-song package he appropriately named Zoom In after the videoconferencing service.

Mr. Starr made the record last year from his home studio in Beverly Hills, California, under conditions that US virus czar Anthony Fauci might have approved. Musicians who joined him were tested for the coronavirus, and no more than two at a time took part. They wore masks when they came and stayed six feet apart.

“It’s a weird way of making a record,” Mr. Starr said in an online press conference Thursday. “But if it’s the only way, you get on with it.”

The artist, who turned 80 last year, had no problem attracting big names to participate, including Dave Grohl, Ben Harper, Jenny Lewis, Sheryl Crow, and Toto’s Steve Lukather. Former Doors guitarist Robby Krieger recorded his contribution from home. The pandemic, which has shuttered the concert business for the past year, gave a lot of musicians free time.

“I think everyone was looking for something to do,” Mr. Starr said.

Former bandmate Paul McCartney also released a pandemic-era album in December, which he recorded in his own studio. In Mr. McCartney’s case, he played all of the instruments.

Mr. Starr, who often plays concerts in the summer with a group he calls the All Starr Band, ultimately canceled two tours, last year and this year. Even after pushing the dates to as late as October 2021, he didn’t feel comfortable. He also said he’d prefer not to do online concerts, as many musicians have.

“I’m not really interested unless I’m there and you’re there,” said Mr. Starr, who has now been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The drummer, who sang a number of Beatles hits, including “Octopus’s Garden,” said he put his pride on the shelf and mostly recorded songs written by others, including Grammy winner Diane Warren.

He jumped on “Not Enough Love in the World,” from Lukather and his Toto bandmate Joseph Williams, to cheer people up in these tough times. Mr. Starr chose to make a shorter, extended-play record, or EP in music industry lingo, because a full album would have been too much work. He said he’ll likely stick with that format going forward.

Mr. Starr had always been a cautious one, bumping elbows with fans long before the pandemic ended handshakes. He’s already started work on a second EP and announced 14 live dates, beginning in May 2022.

“There may be four or five EPs out before then,” he said. — Bloomberg