ATLANTA — Ringo Starr’s hands must be cramping by now.
No, not because of the drumming. The former Beatle, who’s bringing his All Starr Band to Atlanta, arguably flashes more peace signs than any other celebrity. Whenever you see Ringo, you see those two fingers.
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Starr said recently as the band launched its current tour in Niagara Falls, Ontario. “I’m glad. I felt it then in the middle of the ‘60s. There was a shift, and the shift was for peace and love. ... We had a great movement then. And I’m really still with it.”
While flower power wilted for some, it’s Starr’s driving force, one that permeates his approach to live music. The All Starr Band, a concept he first unveiled in 1989, is a musical commune of sorts, with Starr sharing the stage with a rotating roster of hit makers.
Earlier versions featured Cream’s Jack Bruce and the Who’s John Entwistle thumping bass. Clarence Clemons and Edgar Winter have blown sax. Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles both soared with the All Starrs. Peter Frampton and the late Levon Helm are also among the who’s who of 20th century rock ‘n’ roll that have gone out on the long and winding road with Ringo.
This time around is no different — a card-carrying Beatle has access to the pick of the litter. Genre-buster Todd Rundgren sings and wrangles multiple instruments. Toto guitar hero and vocalist Steve Lukather brings mastery. Gregg Rolie, a founding member of Santana and Journey, displays his organ and singing prowess. Mr. Mister frontman Richard Page sings and plays bass. Acclaimed session drummer Gregg Bissonette and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mark Rivera, a longtime member of Billy Joel’s band, help hold down the fort.
Various members sing their own hits, and Starr leads the charge with Beatles and solo tunes, including songs from his latest, “Ringo 2012.” It’s the equivalent of one of those mail-order compilation discs.
The most endearing aspect of the All Starr experience may not be the music at all, but the fact that Starr isn’t basking in his own personal spotlight.