Postcards From The Beatles
Oct. 3, 2004
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/ ... 7020.shtml
CBS) For those of a certain age, we'll never lose affection for the Beatles, for the times and the places we remember, reports 48 Hours' Bill Lagattuta.
Those times and places were captured in of all things, postcards. Ordinary postcards.
Ringo Starr always loved postcards, and asked his fellow Beatles to send him one whenever they got a chance.
They did, from wherever they were, even long after they were the Beatles. The cards were read, then put away and then, like some memories, forgotten.
Five or six years ago, Starr found a huge trunk that had more than a hundred postcards from John, Paul and George to Ringo.
Starr has turned the postcards, and his memories about them, into a book, "Postcards from the Boys," with his royalties going to charity.
"Some memories come flashing back," Starr tells Lagattuta, "but if you look at the book, there are some cards I have no idea what it means. I mean, you know it was forty years or whatever, but at the time it must have been really important."
Some were addressed to his real name, Richard Starkey, others just to Ringo. There were silly cards, drawings, and words of affection.
Paul McCartney wrote him one that said, "You are the greatest drummer in the world."
Starr explains, "I had left the Beatles. I just felt it wasn't working, just felt, sort of on the sidelines. And I thought those three were really close. So I went over to John's and I said, 'You know, I really feel you three are really close and I'm not part of it anymore.' He says, 'I thought it was you three.' So I went over to Paul's and I said, 'You know, I've got to get out of here because you three are really close and I feel on the sideline.' He said, 'I thought it was you three.' So I thought, 'Wow, it's too crazy, I'm getting out of town.'"
"Well, they wanted me to come back. And you know, John sent telegrams and Paul wrote this. And when I got back George had the whole studio decorated in flowers. So it was really beautiful day."
The cards aren't so much the history of the Beatles as historical fragments. John from Japan meeting Yoko's parents. Paul from India and a visit to the Maharishi, triggering memories from Ringo of the first time they met the guru.
"He wasn't sure who the Beatles were," Starr recalls.
The Maharishi may have been the only one. So great was their fame, it's remarkable these postcards ever got delivered.
"Just a postcard sent through the mail, from John Lennon to Ringo, and it arrives. I don't know if it would arrive today, you know what I mean? Because everybody's collecting everything," reflects Starr.
The Beatles traveled the globe together. And they traveled apart. But the bond remained.
Some of the postcards are ordinary, like anyone would send.
"But we are anyone. You know? We are John, Paul, George and Ringo. We are great mates."
One said, "Who would have thought it would come to this? Love, John and Yoko."
"Well, that's sort of the end of the Beatles," Starr says. "We were breaking up, and you know, as the old song goes, breaking up is hard to do. And you know, it got a little nasty and it got a little angry, but we were still sending postcards. Everyone thinks it was like really dire. It was hard. But we hadn't forgotten each other. We had a row. You know, it's a family row here. We'd been that close for all these years. And it was ending, you know, and it didn't end great. And that's just the truth of it."
It was seven short years from the time the Beatles first captivated America to when the band broke up. After that, to everyone's surprise, it was Starr who had the most initial success. Then his star faded. Drugs and alcohol overtook him in the 80s. But he came back in the nineties, with new bands, and new success.
For the past 15 years he's been on tour with a revolving group of musician friends, Ringo and the All-Starr Band, playing each other's music.
He continues to make music with another band of friends, the Roundheads.
His last CD, "Ringo-Rama," included a tribute to George Harrison.
"George had just died and he was a dear friend of mine. It was a great way of me saying 'I love you George, and see you later.'"
Starr is at work now on a new CD due out this spring, with guest artists like Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders.
Where does Ringo go from here? He turned 64 this year, still playing in his new band, still living with his old one.
Starr says people still ask why the Beatles broke up.
"I always feel that the energy wasn't going into it, the life energy. The music energy was always into it. If you listen to the tracks though, to the day we broke up, the tracks themselves are really good. Because once we had the counting - one, two, three, four - we all knew how to do it," he says.
"We all appreciated each other. We all supported each other. So there was never anything wrong with the music. It was just it was the time and space. That's how I look at it."
He says he can get tired of talking about his time with the Beatles. "But I am comfortable with it. Everybody wants to go back all the time, you know? People can't help themselves. They want to talk about these boys."