Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ringo is awesome!

This meeting with Ringo Starr happened to Andrew Matheson in the mid 1970's in London. I think it is a really neat story and the ending is just awesome. It was originally published in the August/September 1985 issue of Beatlefan magazine. In the story, Andrew speaks of how Ringo's date for the evening was Lynsey DePaul. Ringo only dated Ms. DePaul for a very short time and the story has it that Ringo gave her a fishing rod as a gift because she was always "fishing for compliments." Ouch! So I has posted the few photos of her with Ringo that I could locate in my files. Maybe the photos here were taken at the party in this story! You never know!

A few years ago I happened to be visiting London and was staying at the apartment of a journalist friend of mine. While I was there, he received an invitation for two from the rock group Queen to attend a reception in their honor. It was to celebrate the final performance of their European tour and was to be held after the gig at the newly finished Cunard Hotel in West London.

We took a taxi and arrived at about 9:30pm at the Cunard, where our engraved invitations served as the only passport through the tight security and into a lavishly appointed ballroom where the action was well underway.

The wine and the good food were in abundance as were the toast of the British rock scene. Roxy’s Bryan Ferry, Rod Steward as well as members of the Clash and Generation X were there and ever David Bowie put in a brief appearance.

At 11:00pm I was in fine spirits indeed and sitting at a table with a group of people when someone came through the door the sight of whom almost made me fall out of my chair. It was none other than Ringo Starr.

The magical effect that the Fab Four had on people obviously was still intact even in this rather exalted company, for as soon as Starr entered, a veritable buzz went through the room and the 300 or so guests – many of whom were major personalities in their right – became just 300 or so Beatlefans.

He was instantly surrounded by a crowd and for a good 10 minutes most conversations ceased and most necks were craned (some discreetly so, so less so) trying to get a glimpse of him.
I was amazed by this turn of events and spend the next half hour alternately watching Starr and the reaction he was causing.

Anyway, my friend, journalists that he was decided this was an opportunity not be missed, so he said some on, let’s go meet him. No way. I said. I found the prospect of meeting Starr a bit nerve wracking. And besides, although I wasn’t immune to the sudden resurgence of Beatlemania that was going on around us, it seemed like there were too many people button holing him already. Indeed, his date for the evening, Lynsey De Paul (immediately before Barbara Bach won his heart) was finding herself all but ignored.

Thankfully (as it turned out) my friend was insistent and persuasive and almost before I knew it we were across the room, formalities were whisked through, and I was shaking Starr’s hand.
It was all a bit of a mad blur. I mean this was RINGO STARR, one of the four guys that had played the soundtrack to my entire youth. I didn’t count on saying anything brilliant. I was hoping for intelligible at best.

Starr, on the other hand, was chatty, funny and very natural. He was intent on putting everyone at ease and he succeeded marvelously.

We spoke for about five minutes and, of course, I attempted the impossible and tried to tell him in a sentence or two what his music had meant to me over the years. Despite the fact that he must have heard variations on this stammering testimonial a million times, he thanked me in turn with graciousness and sincerity as though it were the first time anyone had mentioned it to him.

We shook hands and as we were parting he tipped his glass of champagne to me. Cheers! I noticed he wore three rings.

We left the party shortly after that and stood in front of the hotel to attempt the near impossible task of finding a taxi in London at that late hour.

And half an hour later we were still there when who should could through the doors behind us but Ringo Starr. He recognized us, waved and called out, “No taxis?” WE said not yet. “Well, best of luck,” he said. Then he and De Paul climbed into the back seat of a limo that was parked off to the right of the hotel’s entrance. The chauffeur closed the door after them and they drove off into the night.

We were surprised and pleased that he had recognized us and stood there laughing and keeping our eyes peeled for a taxi.

Another 20 minutes went by. The cab we had telephoned for didn’t appear to be coming and there was no sign of one on the London streets.

Then something incredible occurred to top off what had already been a most incredible night. A limo pulled up directly in front of us, which we assumed was for one of the illustrious guests still partying up in the ballroom. But out stepped Starr’s chauffeur to inform us that he had taken Starr home and that he had then been instructed by him to drive back to the Cunard, see if we were still there and if so take us wherever we needed to go.

Well, we were quite simply dumbfounded but we got in and all the way home kept shaking our heads in disbelief.

On arrival, the chauffeur, who obviously was amused at our shock, politely opened our car door, bade us good night and drove off.

We stood there on the pavement looking at one another and then burst into hysterical laughter which continued off and on for the next couple of hours. And so ended a most amazing evening which I’ll never forget.

Ringo, thanks for the memories!

1 comment:

  1. OMG, as if I couldn't love him any more. WHAT A SWEETIE!!!