Skip to content
For the first time in one of popular music’s most enduring and illustrious careers, Ringo Starr has decided to take charge and produce himself. The result is perhaps the most personal and impressive album of this rock legend’s entire solo career. How on earth did Starr finally locate the absolutely perfect producer to work with him? “Well, I looked in the mirror,” Ringo says with a smile. “And I was looking real groovy that day.
Starr’s decision to take a stronger role in the recording of his latest and greatest solo album was a significant and fortuitous one. “I didn’t do it at the start,” Starr says. “I was the least involved in the production of the Beatle records. And then with my solo records, I worked with some other great producers like Richard Perry, Arif Mardin, and Don Was. So it just seemed like that’s the way that it goes. Then suddenly, it’s another point in your life, and you say, `I’m going do this now.’ So I’ll be producing anything I make from now on. That’s the good news. It’s a confidence thing, I suppose. And Y Not is really another way of me saying, ‘Yes, I can.’”
The joyous result of Starr looking in the mirror is Y Not, a groovy and deeply felt song cycle that finds Ringo leading a smaller core group of old and new friends including longtime pal and recent brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart and longtime Roundheads member Steve Dudas on guitar, Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on keyboards, Don Was and Mike Bradford on bass. The album also features Starr’s engineer and co-producer Bruce Sugar on keyboards, as well as some special guests like Joss Stone, Ben Harper and Richard Marx on vocals, Ann Marie Calhoun on violin and Tina Sugandh -- aka Tina The Tabla Girl – on tabla and chanting. Starr’s songwriting collaborators on Y Not also include familiar and new names like Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Glen Ballard, Richard Marx, Van Dyke Parks, Gary Nicholson plus Gary Wright and his former Roundhead band member, Gary Burr.
The album's highlights include “Fill In The Blanks,” the album’s rocking opening track written, played and sung only by Starr and Walsh. Then there’s “The Other Side Of Liverpool,” a revealing autobiographical song that explores Starr’s earliest and darkest days. “People believe I was born, was a Beatle and lived in a big house,” Starr explains. “And where I come from was a very dark, damp, violent neighborhood. I wanted to write another little snapshot of my life, and I’m going to do this every album. It’s better for me than doing it in a book. In two lines I can say what would take five pages. Like the song says, “’The other side of Liverpool is cold and damp/Only way out of there/drums, guitar and amp.’”