Ringo Starr Remembers His 'Good Friend' Tom Petty, Talks New Album

Ringo Starr & Tom Petty, 2003
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Ringo Starr (R) and Tom Petty embrace at a special screening at the Steven J. Ross Theater at Warner Bros. Studios of the film ''Concert for George' Sept. 24, 2003 in Burbank, Calif. 

Last week's music world tragedies were a double whammy for Ringo Starr.

Rock's leading proponent of "peace and love" had advanced book to Las Vegas for Oct. 2, the day after the Route 91 Harvest festival shootings. "Just by chance I was booked here on the Monday to see some people, and the vibe was pretty low -- understandably, of course," Starr tells Billboard. "Then in the middle of this meeting someone turned to me and said, 'Tom Petty's dead.' 'Oh my God! What else can go down?'

"It was a shock. When you first hear it, it's like, 'What...?!' Like when I heard Elvis was dead; It's like, 'What?!' It has to sink in. It was very sad. That's all I can say, really. God Bless him and his family."

Starr and Petty were good friends and occasional collaborators; Starr most notably appeared in Petty's video for "I Won't Back Down" during 1989.

"I'll miss Tom," Starr says. "Tom was a good friend. I played with Tom, Tom Played with me. I got to know him over the years, really got to know him when he was in the Wilburys 'cause of George (Harrison). All through my career we've lost really great friends, and people who aren't my friends, but were great musicians and writers. In our business we've lost them very young as well. But overall there's still a lot of us out there doing what we do."

Starr will be doing what he does -- and hoping to return some good vibes to Vegas -- when he and his All-Starr Band kick off a fall tour supporting his new album, Give More Love, with an eight-show stand starting Friday (Oct. 13) at Planet Hollywood and continuing through Nov. 16 in New Jersey.

"We're gonna try to play those shows with a lot of peace and love and try to raise the spirits," Starr says.

The shows will include some material from Give More Love, Starr's 19th solo studio album, which includes appearances by Paul McCartney, Starr's brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Richard Marx, the Eagles' Timothy B. Schmit, Petty's Heartbreakers keyboardist  Benmonth Tench, Dave Stewart, Edgar Winter, along with All-Starr Band members  Steve Lukather, Richard Page and Gregg Bissonette.

The deluxe version of the album, meanwhile, features a newly recorded version of his 1972 hit "Back Off Boogaloo" built atop recently discovered session tapes. Might there be more where that came from? "You never know," Starr says.

"We just got lucky with that one. I'm going through a lot of tape and we're looking to see if anything else is on them. So far we haven't found anything as important as that, but I might find something else on there."


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