Ringo Starr Producing His New Album; Talks Tour, Beatles & His 'Incredible Year'

Ringo Starr performs onstage during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Ringo Starr has had a ball celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in America this year as well as some of his own honors. But, he says, it's put a bit of a crimp in plans for his next album.

Starr tells Billboard that he's "probably two-thirds through" with the follow-up to "Ringo 2012," which he plans to release in February. "Usually I make the record in January, February, March and mix it in April," he explains. "But because of all that Beatles stuff I sort of got behind because of the rehearsals and the fun and the joy. I was in L.A. until the first of April and I was trying to finish the record and just said, 'Ah, I've got too much to do.' " He has plans to work on it during July and August, when he's back in Los Angeles after the first leg of his latest All-Starr band tour wraps on July 19 at the Greek Theatre.

Starr has been working on the set with Toto guitarist and current All-Starr Band member Steve Lukather, along with Peter Frampton, Richard Marx, Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard and Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson. "It's all my pals, really. We just get together," Starr notes. And, he says with a laugh, the results are "sounding incredible. It's a mixed bag, as my records always ware. We have the reggae track and we have the rock track and that's how it is. It's pop, rock, reggae." Starr is also taking the production reins on his own this time after working with Bruce Sugar on "Ringo 2012" and 2010's "Y Not."

"A couple of years ago I thought, 'Hey, I'm gonna try this,' " Starr says. "I was a bit insecure and I did bring a producer in and talked to him, and I said, 'Well, I'll call you in a couple of weeks.' And I did call him and said, 'Look, I'm having too much fun. I'm gonna do it.' I've always had ideas but I never held it together like I do now."

Starr will be plenty busy with other endeavors until he returns to the new album. The All-Starr Band tour gets under way Friday in Rama, Ont., and Starr is looking forward to reconvening with the ensemble of Lukather, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (Journey, Santana), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Gregg Bissonette and new utility man Warren Ham. "Everybody knows by now I love this band," Starr says. "I love the guys and we all get on well and I'm trying to do anything to keep it together." That includes 14 newly announced U.S. dates for October. "Everyone is cool and we just get on really, really well. I mean,nobody plays better than Steve Lukather and Gregg Rollie. Everyone is a prime musician. There's not any liggers in the band, really."

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the first All-Starr Band tour, though Starr says he's not surprised the concept has had staying power. "I think it's a great show to come and see," he says. "I always say it's like a jukebox, y'know? Every song's a hit. I put it together, and it's gone on."

But, he adds, having contemporary projects -- such as the new album, his "PHOTOGRAPH" art book and "Octopus's Garden" children's book, and artwork that will be displayed this year at the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago, the Ocean Gallery in Stone Harbor, N.J., and, staring June 19, at the Soho Contemporary Art Gallery in New York -- keeps him from being eclipsed by the high-profile Beatles anniversary activities. 

"It's just been one of those incredible years, massive," Starr says. "But I did all that in the 60s. We are the Beatles and we made those records and now we're Ringo and I do what I do now and that's how it is. I don't sit around here dwelling on the past. I'm trying to get on with today. That's what I do." Nevertheless, Starr says that playing with Paul McCartney again at the Grammy Awards and on the subsequent "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles" was certainly satisfying.

"Well, it's not like we haven't done it before," he cracks, adding that, "for me it's always a high. I love to play with Paul. He's an incredible musician-writer, of course, and he's a good friend and the most melodic bass player. And, hey, we know the songs."

Starr's other Grammy Week honor, from the David Lynch Foundation on Jan. 20 at the El Rey in Los Angeles, will have its broadcast premiere as "Ringo Starr; A Lifetime of Peace and Love" on July 13 on AXS TV, featuring performances by his brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Ben Folds, Bettye LaVette, Brendan Benson, the Head & the Heart and more.

Starr's full 2014 tour itinerary, including the new October dates, include:

June 6- Rama, ON - Casino Rama
June 7- Canandaigua, NY- CMAC
June 8- Williamsport, PA- Community Arts Theatre
June 10- Albany, NY- Palace Theater
June 11- Westbury, NY - Theatre at Westbury
June 12- Vienna, VA - Wolf Trap Filene Center
June 14- Wallingford, CT - Toyota Present Oakdale Theatre
June 15- Providence, RI - Performing Arts Center
June 17- New York, NY- Beacon Theatre
June 18- New York, NY- Beacon Theatre
June 20- Red Bank, NJ - Count Basie Theatre
June 21- Atlantic City, NJ - Caesars
June 22- Durham, NC - Durham Performing Arts Center
June 24- Buffalo (Lewiston), NY - ArtPark
June 25 Verona NY - Turning Stone Casino
June 27- Detroit, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre
June 28- Chicago, IL- Chicago Theatre
June 29- Cleveland, OH - Jacobs Pavillion 

July 1- Toledo, OH - Toledo Zoo
July 2- Kettering OH - Fraze Pavilion
July 3- Robinsonville, MS - Horseshoe Casino Tunica
July 5- Thatcherville, OK (Dallas, TX) - Winstar World Casino
July 9- Albuquerque, NM - Sandia Amphitheatre
July 11- San Diego, CA- Humphreys
July 12- Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl
July 13- San Jose CA -  City National Civic of San Jose
July 15- Vancouver BC - Hard Rock Casino
July 16- Woodenvile, WA (Seattle) – Chateau Ste Michelle
July 17- Bend, OR - Les Schwab Amphitheater
July 19- Los Angeles, CA- Greek Theatre

Oct. 2- Tulsa, OK- Hard Rock Café
Oct. 3- St. Louis, MO- Fabulous Fox Theatre
Oct. 4- Kansas City, KS- Starlight Theatre
Oct. 5- Omaha, NE- CenturyLink Center
Oct. 7- San Antonio, TX- Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Oct. 8- Austin, TX- Moody Theater
Oct. 10- Houston, TX- Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Oct. 15- Charleston- North Charleston Performing Arts Center
Oct. 17- Biloxi- Hard Rock Café Biloxi
Oct. 18- Jacksonville, FL- Moran Theatre
Oct. 19- Ft. Myers, FL- Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
Oct. 21- Ft. Lauderdale- Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Oct. 22- Melbourne, FL- Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts
Oct. 23- Clearwater, FL- Ruth Eckerd Hall