Ringo Starr is again going on tour this year, bringing his cadre of rock-and-roll has-beens to every two bit theatre in every Schenectady-sized town in America. I may or may not see them, but the lineup is better than many in recent years, with members of Toto, Santana, and Mr. Mister along for the ride, along with the legendary Todd Rundgren. In the midst of debating whether or not to go, my fiance asked me who I would call up if I had to assemble an All-Starr Band like the one Ringo put together. I gave this some thought, and laid down who I would pick, and what they would sing, keeping the concerts’ “parade of hits” feeling in mind, alongside of my own desire to include a few more obscure album tracks.
My further criteria:
- The focus is on creating an ensemble, so people who have worked well in bands get the priority.
- Everybody has to play an instrument at least semi-competently. No guys who are vocals-only
- Anybody who has already performed in one of Ringo Starr’s bands is ineligible. This is a bigger problem than you think, given a number of musicians I admire who have done a turn with Ringo– Jack Bruce, Peter Frampton, Burton Cummings, Eric Carmen, Roger Hodgson, Edgar Winter, and so on.
- In a related note, keep the list somewhat limited in regards to fame– so, nobody of, say, Elton John or Sting’s level of fame
- The setlist must consist of songs written by the band members
- No dead guys allowed. It’s creepy, and they decompose all over the stage (which is a shame, since Levon Helm probably would have made it, otherwise)
And so— the lineup:
–Neil Finn of Crowded House: Guitar, ukelele
–Bernie Leadon of The Eagles & Flying Burrito Brothers: electric guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, banjo
–Gerry Beckley of America: Rhythm Guitar, keyboards
–Christie McVie of Fleetwood Mac: Keyboards, percussion
–Martin Page (solo artist and songwriter): bass
–Danny Seraphine of Chicago: drums, percussion
The Set List:
- Witchy Woman (Leadon)
- Sister Golden Hair (Beckley)
- Little Lies (McVie)
- Something So Strong (Finn)
- In the House of Stone and Light (Page)
- These Dreams (Page, McVie on vocals)
- No Tell Lover (Seraphine, Page on vocals)
- Train Leaves Here This Morning (Leadon)
- Daisy Jane (Beckley)
- Songbird (McVie)
- Weather With You (Finn, with Page on background vocals)
- Four Seasons in One Day (Finn)
- The Chain (McVie, although Leadon and Finn share vocals with her)
- King of Wishful Thinking (Page)
- Say You Love Me (McVie)
- Don’t Dream It’s Over (Finn)
- Only in Your Heart (Beckley)
- Street Player (Seraphine, Page on vocals)
- Bitter Creek (Leadon)
- You Make Loving Fun (McVie)
- We Built This City (Page)
- Don’t Stop (McVie)
Conclusions: I like this lineup and this set a lot. Although it might take McVie some convincing to go on tour, once this is accomplished, you have a surprisingly functional group of 1970s and 1980s musicians. Amazingly, there is not a single tosser or prima donna in the mix. It has a great number of hits, but the album tracks will be generally well known, coming from the back catalogs of famous groups like Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, America, and the Eagles. The lineup also complements each other well; Leadon and Finn can both add a bit of flair to the songs by their proficiencies in stringed instruments besides guitar. And an alto like McVie can probably handle the high tenor parts a lot of these songs require, while having male and female voices blending together should emulate the Fleetwood Mac sound nicely. More than this, the band is generally on the same page musically; it doesn’t mix drastically different styles, and everybody works with the Top 40 AM pop idiom, even if Seraphine has some jazz licks on the drums, and Leadon is eager to inject a small bit of bluegrass.
So, while this exercise is a nice little what-if, don’t expect these artists to tour together– but if Ringo wants some suggestions for next year’s All-Star lineup, he knows how to get a hold of me.