Sir Paul McCartney was on hand to induct his dear friend and former bandmate Ringo Starr into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland last night, finally bringing all four Beatles into elite (and controversial) rock echelon. McCartney performed a similar duty for the late John Lennon in 1994, before being inducted himself five years later.
In addition to serving together in the band's formidable rhythm section, Sir Paul was instrumental in ensuring that Starr would make this year's cut. "I talked to Bruce Springsteen and I talked to Dave Grohl, and they both said he should be in," McCartney revealed to Rolling Stone. "And I said I'd do the induction. That took care of it."
The 74-year-old drummer was understandably thrilled to be the guest of honor at the prestigious event. "I've finally been invited, and I love it. I got lucky, and it was actually in Cleveland," he remarked, drawing a roar of laughter from the crowd. Other honorees included Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bill Withers, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and early soul group, The 5 Royales.
Honorees and famous friends all piled on stage for a group jam session, wrapping up the evening with Ringo's 1964 tune, "I Wanna Be Your Man."
[mtvn_player id="1709230" vid="921075" autoplay="true"]
Read Sir Paul's whole emotional speech, courtesy of Rolling Stone.
OK. Ringo Starr was born in Liverpool at a very early age, and he had a hard childhood. Real hard childhood, but he had a beautiful mom, Elsie, and a lovely stepdad Harry. Both of them had real big hearts, beautiful people, and they loved music. So at some point during this difficult childhood, Ringo got a drum. Ringo got a drum! And that was it. He was now a drummer.
Later on he joined a group called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. And we saw these guys when we were out in Hamburg, we were playing out there. And Ringo was like a professional musician. We were just like, slamming around and doing stuff, but he had a beard — that's professional. He had the suit. Very professional. And he would sit at the bar drinking bourbon and seven. We'd never seen anyone like this. This was like, a grown-up musician.
Anyway, we got friendly with him, and he used to come in late night when we were playing, and he requested a couple of songs, so we got to know him. And one night our drummer then, Pete Best, wasn't available, so Ringo sat in. And I remember the moment. I mean, Pete was great, and we had a good time with him. But me, John and George, God bless 'em, were on the front line singing, and now behind us we had this guy we'd never played with before, and I remember the moment when he started to play – I think it was Ray Charles, "What'd I Say," and most of the drummers couldn't nail the drum part, it's a little bit [sings a bit of it]. It was a little difficult to do, but Ringo nailed it. Yeah — Ringo nailed it! And I remember the moment, standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was like, fuck you. What is this? And that was the moment, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.
Anyway, then we started this great journey for these four guys from Liverpool who were . . .we just set off on their journey. We did ballrooms and clubs around England, and we got a little work in Europe, and then we eventually came to America. And here we were, we were staying in rooms together. And I wasn't a sheltered kid, but I just had my mom and dad growing up and my brother. So I was staying in a hotel room with a strange man. This really brought us together. We lived like in each other's pockets, virtually. But it was a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing. Eventually we got on The Ed Sullivan Show, and we got really famous. It was just so beautiful. As all the other drummers say, he just is something so special. When he's playing behind you, you see these other bands, they're looking around at the drummer, like, is he going to speed up, is he going to slow down? You don't have to look with Ringo.
It's a great honor for me to be able to induce him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland tonight!