The Musicians Hall of Fame staged a music-filled welcome reception for visiting Ringo Starr on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 24) and announced the drummer as its latest honoree.
The legendary performer was given the inaugural Joe Chambers Musicians Legacy Award, named for the co-founder of the Musicians Hall of Fame. Brenda Lee recalled that when she played The Star Club in Hamburg, Germany in 1962, The Beatles were her opening act.
“Everyone used to ask, ‘Who’s your favorite Beatle?’ Well, I loved ‘em all,” she said. “But, to me, Ringo was just adorable.
“I love doing all I can to support my fellow members of the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. But Ringo has got me beat. He’s in the Hall of Fame twice, once for being in The Beatles and once for his own records. And I love both of those Ringo Starrs.
“I love his singing on records — everything from ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ to ‘Act Naturally,’ from ‘You’re Sixteen’ to ‘The No-No Song.’ I love him in the movies and on TV, like in The Magic Christian, Shining Time Station, Son of Dracula…..
“What?” she blurted, jumping off script. “Really!?” she comedically added, looking over her glasses at Starr, seated in the front row. “Well, Harry Nilsson was Dracula,” he drawled. “I’d pay big money for a tape of that,” she quipped. “When you find one, get one for me,” he replied.
Returning to her prepared remarks, Lee continued, “I love him as a songwriter — and not many people know him as this — for ‘Photograph,’ ‘It Don’t Come Easy,’ ‘Oh My My’ and ‘Back Off Boogaloo.’
“But let me tell you something, the heartbeat of every rock & roll song you’ve ever heard is in the rhythm….And Ringo Starr is one of the greatest heartbeats I’ve ever heard…..So maybe I love Ringo most of all for his work as a musician.
“Help me welcome him as the first solo drummer to be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame….We tried to get them to make your medallion into a ring. But they wouldn’t do it. So you’ll just have to wear it around your neck.”
A top-tier Nashville backing band took the stage. Wendy Moten led them in blasting the rumbling power of “Photograph,” embellished by a sizzling sax solo from Sam Levine. Next, Felix Cavaliere sang a good-humored “Act Naturally.” Steve Lukather performed “Matchbox” with Moten joining in.
Peter Frampton made the award presentation. He first met Ringo Starr when they both played on an Apple Records album by Doris Troy produced by George Harrison. “His playing was, and is, incredibly unique — left-handed, playing a right-handed kit,” Frampton explained. “[Ringo] is one of the greatest of all time….and a gentle man.”
“Wow, what a lovely tribute,” responded Starr, holding the plaque that Frampton gave him. “For all of this, I am really touched and honored.” He recalled recording his Beaucoups of Blues LP in Nashville in 1970. He said he was amazed by the quality and efficiency of the Nashville session musicians, who created the recording with him in just two days.
“I love this museum,” Starr continued. “I send you all peace and love. Thank you for coming. See you at the Ryman,” where Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band performed that night.
The finale was “With a Little Help From My Friends,” performed by Rodney Crowell with The Fisk Jubilee Singers. Like the other performances, it received a standing ovation.
Among those in attendance were such musicians as Vince Gill & Amy Grant, Dave Pomeroy & Regina McCrary, Gary Burr & Georgia Middleman, Jim Horn, Charlie McCoy (who played on Beaucoups of Blues), Harry Stinson, Wally Wilson, T Bone Burnett, David Briggs and Bergen White. An elite group of music-biz folks mingled — Doug Howard & Linda Edell, John Huie, Roger & Erika Wollam Nichols, Wayne Halper, Rose Drake (whose late husband Pete Drake produced Ringo’s Nashville LP), Tony Conway, Pat McCoy, Richard Courtney (who is such a Beatles fan that he’s written a book about them), Dan Rogers, Katherine Richardson, Don Cusic, Russell Zieker (the soundtrack supervisor of the Nashville TV series who has moved here), Mark Miller, Marcus K. Dowling, Jackie Marushka, Kay Smith and Freddie O’Connell, who will be sworn in as Nashville’s new mayor today (Sept. 25).
“I want to thank everyone for being here,” said Musicians Hall of Fame CEO Linda Chambers. “And a special thanks for your support, especially during this past year.” The museum’s 2006 co-founder, her husband Joe Chambers, passed away exactly a year ago this week. Hence the title of the award given yesterday to Sir Richard Starkey, a.k.a. Ringo Starr.
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