Should Ringo Starr say sorry to Liverpool ahead of his June gig?
by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
March 4, 2011
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpoo ... -28277175/
(A foliage sculpture of the Beatles at Liverpool's South Parkway transport interchange saw Ringo Starr's head chopped off by vandals)
Should Ringo Starr apologise to Liverpool?
RINGO Starr lost his head soon after his last visit to Liverpool . . . an angry local chopped it off outside Liverpool South Parkway station (a terrible irony bearing in mind the former Beatle’s connection with Thomas The Tank Engine).
Fortunately for the formerly fab but now fallen one, it was only a lifesize topiary figure of his famous Beatle bonce which was removed.
Ringo went from hero to zero in many people’s eyes just a week after playing a starring role in his home city’s European Capital of Culture launch celebrations.
He went on Jonathan Ross’s BBC1 chat show and gave a flippant answer to a question which invited him to say nice things about the place where he was born and raised.
After Ross asked him what he missed most about Liverpool, Ringo laughed, prompting the host to say: “I didn’t know that question would get a laugh! Are there any things you miss about not being in Liverpool any more?”
“No,” deadpanned Ringo.
During the Capital of Culture opening weekend, Ringo sang: “Liverpool, I left you – but I never let you down.”
Many ECHO readers who disagreed were quick to castigate him in our letters pages: “For me, 30 seconds of flippancy have ruined any image I had of him as a Scouse icon,” wrote Dan Ray from Liverpool.
“I am disgusted by his whole attitude and feel he should not receive any plaudits for his appearance as it is quite clear he feels nothing for this great city,” said CP of Mossley Hill.
While Sadie Maguire, from Bootle, wrote: “On behalf of the people of Liverpool, I'd like to give Ringo his famous peace sign back, the other way around!”
All had seemed well as thousands gathered outside St George’s Hall to watch him headline the People’s Opening festivities on Friday, January 11, 2008 – and 24 hours later, when he headlined Liverpool: The Musical at the ECHO arena.
“Poor Ringo!” says Jayne Casey, who was one of the artistic directors for the grand opening. “He cracked a joke and it was the wrong joke. But I believe he did a massive service for the city – I knew he would attract the world’s media, and he did.”
She adds “I just think everyone should get real and understand he’s human. He’s an old guy who just cracked a joke which was unfortunately in bad taste. But it was a set up question. If I was in his management team, I’d be very angry with Jonathan Ross.
“The city needs to forgive him . . . He didn’t kill anyone. He just said the wrong thing.”
Peter Hooton, singer with The Farm, who played at the ECHO arena show, says: “I don’t think he’s got anything to apologise for. I listened to him being interviewed on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show on the same day as the Jonathan Ross show and he was fulsome in his praise when talking about Liverpool. He had nothing but good to say.
“And he was great backstage at the ECHO arena. He came into everyone’s dressing room and was hugging everyone.”
He adds: “I don’t think he was very diplomatic, but I didn’t find what he said about not missing Liverpool offensive. I think it was much ado about nothing.”
Comedian Keith Carter – whose alter ego, scally Nige, famously impressed Capital of Culture judges by telling them: “We’ve got culture coming out of our a***s” – saw the reaction of Liverpool people to Ringo’s chat show appearance at one of his own gigs.
He explains: “I mentioned Ringo and the crowd just went mad and started booing. But think about it, they were tough times when he was growing up in the Dingle. What would you rather do if you had the choice – spend your younger days being worshipped by millions and the rest of your life tanning your Scouse a**e in LA, or live in the Dingle forever?’
“I think the booing was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. If Ringo walked in everyone would probably have been going ‘Look! It’s a Beatle!’ and having their picture taken with him.”
He adds: “In The Beatles’ early interviews, they were irreverent and cheeky – and Ringo still seems to be in that mindset. He was being flippant and probably didn’t think anyone was going to mind. Also, he doesn’t know the new Liverpool – he was here when it was falling apart.”
Bill Heckle, a director of Cavern City Tours, admits Ringo missed a great opportunity to further endear himself to Liverpool people on Ross’s show, but says: “There is no need for him to apologise. Where is our sense of humour?”
And he stresses that Ringo’s pre-fame life in Liverpool was hardly full of happy memories: “He was born into poverty, abandoned by his father when he was a baby, was very ill as a child and left school at 14 or 15 before starting a succession of dead end jobs. Then he won the lottery.
“So when he’s asked ‘Do you miss Liverpool?’ in his memories they were very, very harsh days. He’s since lived in Monaco and Beverly Hills and wakes up with the sun on his back – would you miss Liverpool in the same situation?”