Neither age nor tragedy can keep Ringo Starr off the road

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 8:39 AM

Ringo Starr is still going strong at age 77.
Noam Galai/Getty Images
Ringo Starr is still going strong at age 77.(Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Ringo Starr calls from his hotel room amid the neon bling and bustle of Las Vegas, a Liverpudlian accent still peppering that unmistakable voice. Fresh off of rehearsal, the spry and ageless 77-year-old rocker readies for something he doesn’t have to do: tour.

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“Every time I put a band together and we talk to the press, they say, ‘You want to tour? You’re still playing?’” Starr said. “And I say, ‘Yep, because that’s what I do. I’m not an electrician.’”

He’s a drummer, arguably the most significant on the planet. Thanks to his Beatles tenure and solo career, the Rock Hall of Famer continues causing countless others to pick up sticks eons after the British Invasion.

“Ringo is the archetype of a great pop-rock drummer,” said Atlanta musician and producer Robert Schneider of psychedelic rockers the Apples in Stereo. “To me, he represents drumming perfection: heavy, groovy and solid, yet a little wild and not overly technical.”

Bill King, editor and publisher of the Atlanta-based Beatlefan magazine, calls him “one of the most influential drummers ever.”

Starr, with his All Starr Band in tow, will display that influence Nov. 11 at the Fox Theatre. Known to have an enduring affection for the city, Starr even invested in a downtown Atlanta eatery, the defunct London Brasserie, in the late 1980s.

His favorite Atlanta haunt today? “The Container Store,” he quipped. “That’s the place for me, brother. I need to contain myself, it seems.”

Yeah, the Beatle the press dubbed “the funny one” more than 50 years ago still has it. Subsequently, his evolution has led from cheeky mop topper to a contemporary poster child for peace and love.

Starr has become synonymous with the phrase, perpetually uttering it in interviews and onstage; consistently waving the two-fingered sign in public; and plastering it on his website and on the cover of his latest album, “Give More Love.” Each year on July 7 — they say it’s his birthday — Starr organizes a public peace and love salute with satellite events dropping all over the planet.

>> RELATED: Ringo Starr turns 77

If ever the world needed Starr to raise his peaceable hands, it might be now.

Fatefully, Starr and company were booked to start their current tour in Las Vegas months in advance of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. A lone shooter took the lives of 59 people, including himself, and injured more than 500 others.

When recalling watching the event play out on television, Starr pauses with muted emotion. “Every time it comes up, I get a tear in my eye that so many went down,” Starr said. “Fifty-nine families have a lot to deal with, and all of those people who were wounded. … It’s hard to deal with it in your mind.”

The day after the tragedy, Starr was scheduled for a business meeting in Vegas ahead of an eight-night residency at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino set to begin less than two weeks later.

“It was a big decision to go or not,” he said. “I decided, ‘Let’s go. Let’s not let it stop our lives. We’ve got to carry on.’”

Then in the midst of the meeting, someone broke the news to Starr that his close friend and collaborator, musician Tom Petty, had died. Trudging forward, Starr made it through the meeting and kept the tour launch date on the books for Oct. 13 in Vegas.

On Oct. 12, Starr and wife Barbara Bach donated $100,000 through their Lotus Foundation to the Nevada Resort Association’s Vegas Strong Fund. The latter benefits those impacted by the Vegas shooting.

Peace and loving his way through adversity seems par for Starr’s course. In 1989, after years of struggling with addiction, Starr entered rehab and surrendered to sobriety. Seven months later, he put together his first All Starr Band.

“And here we are,” Starr said. “The dream is still unfolding.”

The concept of Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band finds the drummer sharing the stage with a who’s who of rotating musicians. To be an All Starr, you need a hit record or two to your credit. The production allows each All Starr to have his or her time in the spotlight, rocking their respective tunes. The rest of the set list, approximately half, goes to Starr with the band backing him on Beatles and solo tracks. This results in a show loaded with a total of about two dozen radio-friendly, classic rock anthems.

Since 1989, a laundry list of performers have held All Starr slots, from Starr’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh and the late Billy “the fifth Beatle” Preston to Shelia E. and Peter Frampton. According to Starr, he’s had 12 official incarnations.

The latest lineup proves to be the longest running with the core remaining the same since 2012. It features Todd Rundgren; Gregg Rolie (Santana); Richard Page (Mr. Mister); Steve Lukather (Toto); and veteran drummer Gregg Bissonette. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Warren Ham (Kansas) joined in 2014.

“Over the years, we’ve really gotten to know each other,” Starr explained. “We know where each other is heading. Once we get the harmonies right, we’re off (and running).”

Despite the fact he could easily dominate the stage himself for the entirety of a show, Starr opts for the communal experience of making music with others, allowing all involved a chance to shine.

“He likes getting to play to other peoples’ numbers,” said King. “As he says, all he ever wanted to be was a drummer. To him, the fact that he still gets to do that is the ultimate payoff. He’s spent his life doing what he wanted to do, which is play drums.”

David Cassidy’s younger brother Shaun offers touching tribute on Twitter

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 5:02 PM

Musicians and brothers Shaun and David Cassidy photographed together in January of 1994.
Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Musicians and brothers Shaun and David Cassidy photographed together in January of 1994.(Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Teenage heartthrobs run in the Cassidy family. David Cassidy’s younger brother, Shaun Cassidy, who was also a teen idol and singer in the 1970s, remembered his late brother with a touching tribute on Twitter after the pop culture icon’s death Tuesday from organ failure.

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“When I was a little boy and my big brother would come to visit, the first call of business would be a punishing pillow fight. During the battle, he would regale me with hysterical stories of our father, often culminating in his taking a giant leap off my top bunk,” Cassidy posted on Twitter, along with a black and white photo of the boys as children.

“I tried to catch him of course. I always tried to catch him. But I never could. Now, I will carry him, along with all of the funny/sad/extraordinary days we shared, none more filled with love than these last few at his side.”

>> Related: ‘Partridge Family’ star, ‘70s teen idol David Cassidy dead at 67

Eight years younger than David, Shaun was the oldest son of Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones, while David was Jack’s only child with his first wife, Evelyn Ward. In addition to being his step-mother, Shirley Jones played David Cassidy’s on-screen mother in the ‘70s musical sit-com “The Partridge Family.”

The relationship between Cassidy and his family was strained over the past years over his battle with alcoholism. Several months before his death, a video of Cassidy struggling to perform at a live show raised concerns about his well-being. Family and fans thought he had relapsed, instead he revealed he was suffering from dementia.

Regardless of past estrangements, his family rushed to his side after hearing of his hospitalization. A source told People magazine, Cassidy “was delighted to see them … There’s been total resolution within the family. They will always be there for him.”

David Cassidy passed away in a Florida hospital on Nov. 21. at the age of 67.

An outpouring of tributes came from celebrities, including Danny Bonaduce — who played David’s television brother — John Stamos, Marie Osmond and Carnie Wilson.

>> Related: Music legend and 'Touched by an Angel' star Della Reese dead at 86

Cassidy is survived by half-brothers Shaun, Patrick and Ryan; daughter Katie Cassidy and son, actor Beau Cassidy.

Michael Jordan replaces family’s signed jersey stolen from home after fire

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:56 PM

Michael Jordan is sending a new signed jersey to a family who lose theirs in a fire.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/Getty Images
Michael Jordan is sending a new signed jersey to a family who lose theirs in a fire.(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/Getty Images)

A family received a surprise from NBA legend Michael Jordan after one of his signed jerseys was stolen from their home when it burned down in October.

Officials with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office said the family was forced out of its Rock Creek, Wisconsin, home on Oct. 11 when it caught fire. 

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Authorities said a family member went to the house on Nov. 2, after the fire, and noticed two men behind it with a vehicle. The family member told officials that the men said they were looting the house and then left with a garbage can full of items. 

Authorities said they later arrested one of the men. 

According to officials, a signed No. 45 Michael Jordan jersey was among the items taken by the men and is believed to have been sold. 

The Star Tribune reported Monday that the family’s daughter, Kelsey Schiel, got the item signed by Jordan at his Chicago restaurant in 1995. The meetup was coordinated by Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization that supports hospitalized children and their families. At the time, Schiel was battling a life-threatening illness. Now 28, she has beaten the disease that she now likes to keep private.

“It’s devastating to know that someone stole such an important item,” Schiel said. “I really hope that whoever has it realizes its importance and turns it in. We won’t ask questions; it’s just really special to me.”

According to the Star Tribune, Jordan heard about the robbery and is having the jersey replaced.

“Michael was very sorry to hear about what happened to the Schiel family and was happy to send Kelsey a new signed jersey,” a representative for Jordan said.

Wendy Williams said she was groped on live TV, fans named names

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:04 PM

What You Need To Know About Wendy Williams

Wendy Williams has her own story about workplace sexual harassment, but the talk show host is trying to keep mum about who it involves.

While discussing the recent slew of sexual assault allegations against veteran journalist, Charlie Rose, Williams, 53, revealed that her least favorite guest on her show was one who had groped her on live television, Inside Edition reported.

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“My worst guest, I’m not gonna name, but I can tell you this -- it had to do with some groping and you all saw it, but didn’t say a word,” Williams  told viewers on her live show Tuesday. “And I felt it and I didn’t say a word. My staff saw it, and, you know, that guest will never be here anymore. He’s not relevant anymore anyway.” 

The television host said that when the individual went further than a quick embrace, she didn’t know how to react.

Wendy Williams says one of her guests on her talk show touched her inappropriately.(Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Wilhelmina Models/Getty Images for Wilhelmina Mode)

“He hugs me, but lays in my breast inappropriately and I didn’t know what to do because I’m brand new on TV, whereas now, I would definitely push somebody through a glass coffee table. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

She continued, saying that guest looked up at her, saying, “Oh! You’re not Oprah!” 

“I’m two seconds away from saying his name but it’s not worth it. However, if I see you in the mall, I’ll tell you,” she told viewers.

Williams maintained that she wouldn’t be revealing who she was referring to, but viewers pulled out their own receipts. Photos of comedian Gilbert Gottfried resting his face on Williams’s chest during a 2011 appearance quickly spread. Wendy can be seen grimacing in the photo while Gottfried grabs her tightly around the waist.

Gottfried, 62, denied having any recollection of the incident when contacted by Inside Edition. When asked about being banned from her show, he said wasn’t aware if he had. 

As of now, Williams has neither confirmed nor denied that Gottfried was whom she referred to.

Meghan McCain secretly marries conservative analyst Ben Domenech

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 1:55 PM

Meghan McCain Announces Engagement On 'The View'

Meghan McCain has tied the knot.

The co-host of ABC’s “The View” exchanged nuptials on Tuesday with conservative analyst Ben Domenech, 35, in a secret Sedona, Arizona, ceremony on her family’s ranch Tuesday. 

“Meghan McCain and Ben Domenech were married at the McCain family lodge in Sedona, Arizona,” a representative  for McCain told People in a statement Wednesday. “The bride’s father, Senator John McCain, gave her away, and they were married by John Dickerson. Following the ceremony, McCain and Domenech celebrated with dinner and dancing surrounded by their family and close friends.” 

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Until recently, few people knew exactly who had won the heart of the Arizona Senator’s daughter. She had referenced her “boyfriend” multiple times on social media, but did not disclose his name until early November, when news of her engagement broke. McCain, 33, told her co-hosts, “We’ve been together for years, and we have been engaged for a while, and it was a secret. I was hoping to get married and people wouldn’t find out, but people talk sometimes.” 

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Meghan McCain attends the 2015 Trevor Project NextGen Fall Fete on November 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)(Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

She revealed that the couple became engaged in July at Mayo Clinic, where her father was battling brain cancer. 

Related: Meghan McCain confirms engagement

Domenech — a conservative blogger and publisher of conservative online magazine “The Federalist” — has definitely earned John McCain’s seal of approval. On an October appearance on “The View,” he shared, “Actually, he’s a very fine man. I’m very proud and very happy that they’re so happy together.” 

“Yesterday I was deeply blessed to give away my little girl at a ceremony with family & friends in #Arizona. Congratulations @MeghanMcCain & @bdomenech – we are so happy for you!” John McCain tweeted Wednesday.

Although no pictures have been published so far, McCain shared a picture on her Instagram referencing her impending Tuesday nuptials, where she would later be surrounded by approximately 100 guests.

“#AlmostTime,” she captioned a photo of slippers that read, “I do!”

⏳👰🏼🌵 #AlmostTime

A post shared by Meghan McCain (@meghanmccain) on

“Wait for people who love strong women,” McCain advised earlier in November when talking about relationships on her daytime show. “The men who love strong, independent women, they’re out there. Don’t settle for less.”