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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.”

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Actress Amandla Stenberg comes out as gay in Wonderland magazine interview

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

Getting to Know Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg, an actress who gained fame as the ill-fated Rue in “The Hunger Games,” has come out as gay.

Known as a vocal supporter of social justice issues from the erasure of non-normative sexualities to the Black Lives Matter movement, Stenberg has previously said she identified herself as bisexual in public. She also said that she would also use the word pansexual to describe herself, meaning she is not limited in who she likes in terms of biological sex, gender or gender identity. At the time, she said identifying as bisexual was easier for those unfamiliar with pansexuality to understand.

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In a conversation with musician King Princess for Wonderland magazine, Amandla said she is out and proud.

“So happy to say the words Yep, I’m Gay in official print,” Stenberg wrote on Instagram Sunday.

“Let’s get real right out of the gate,” King Princess said. “I don’t know if the people in the back heard you, are you gay?”

“*Insert Ellen DeGeneres’ TIME Magazine cover squat and wide smile* ‘Yep, I’m Gay,’” Stenberg replies.

Stenberg also discusses the emotional moments she’s had when she realized what her sexuality was.

“I was so overcome with this profound sense of relief when I realised that I’m gay – not bi, not pan, but gay – with a romantic love for women,” she said. “All of the things that felt so internally contrary to my truest self were rectified as I unravelled a long web of denial and self -deprivation. Like, ‘Oh, maybe there’s a reason why I kissed my best friends and felt ashamed growing up.’...

“I was flooded with a sense of calm and peace because everything that I struggled with or felt discomfort around finally made sense to me, and once those floodgates opened and years of pent up pain and shame were released, I found the freedom to live my best life waiting for me just underneath.”

For more on Stenberg’s interview with King Princess, including representation of black queer women on screen, queer icons and her upcoming projects, go to WonderlandMagazine.com.

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Rapper XXXTentacion shot, killed in South Florida

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 5:14 PM

XXXTentacion – Fast Facts

Rapper XXXTentacion was shot and later died in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Monday.

TMZ first reported the 20-year-old, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy, was unresponsive and, according to a witness, did not appear to have a pulse. The celebrity gossip site reported that died shortly after, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office. He was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m.

 

According to People, the shooting was reported at 3:57 p.m.

“There was a shooting in Deerfield. Our officers are on the scene and we’re gathering information,” Broward County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jonathan Fishman told Miami New Times earlier Monday afternoon. “We can't confirm anything else right now but will release more information soon.”

TMZ reported that the Broward County Fire Department said Onfroy was rushed to a hospital. A graphic, censored video on the gossip site shows the scene of the shooting.

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Dispatch audio obtained by TMZ indicates the shooting was reported as a drive by. Onfroy was at a motorcycle dealership when the shooting occurred.

Onfroy recently appeared on XXL Mag’s Freshman Class issue. Winning the fan vote to appear on the cover, he posed with amaiyah, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock, MadeinTYO, Playboi Carti, Aminé, Kap G, KYLE and Ugly God. His second album “?” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Outside of music, Onfroy is awaiting trial, accused of domestic violence against his pregnant girlfriend. According to an October 2016 arrest report, Onfroy was charged with battery and aggravated assault of a pregnant victim and false imprisonment. He pleaded no contest to charges of armed home invasion robbery and aggravated battery with a firearm and was released from jail on bail March 26, 2017. He was ordered to serve six years of probation. He was accused by prosecutors of witness tampering and was jailed again in December 2017 before being released on house arrest. 

In March of this year, Onfroy was released from house arrest so he could go on tour.

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5 times celebrities feuded with Trump

Published: Monday, June 11, 2018 @ 7:45 AM

What You Need To Know About Robert De Niro

Actor Robert De Niro, a vocal Trump opponent, dropped two of F-bombs on live television at the Tony Awards in June.

His profanity-laced tirade about President Donald Trump was received by a standing ovation from the audience at the Tony Awards.

» TRENDING: Robert De Niro blasts Trump in bleeped comments

“I’m gonna say one thing: f—- Trump!” he said, waving his two fists in the air. “It’s no longer down with Trump, it’s f—- Trump!”

De Niro has criticized Trump multiple times, including during opening nights at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in April. De Niro isn’t the first celebrity to insult a president. Here are five other times celebrities feuded with Trump:

1. Bette Midler

Bette Midler has also been vocal about her dislike of Trump in the past. The two celebrities have traded insults on Twitter.

2. Meryl Streep

The actress called out Trump during a speech at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, highlighting the time he made fun of a disabled reporter. Trump responded on Twitter.

3. Martha Stewart

In an open letter, Trump called Stewart “terrible” and said “she “lacked the mood, temperament, and just about everything else a show needs for success.” She had her own spinoff show of The Apprentice, which Trump said was less successful than his own. She called his comments “mean-spirited.”

4. Beyonce

After Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z performed at a Hillary Clinton political rally, Trump critiqued their singing. “The language is so bad. As they were singing? Singing, right? Talking? Was it talking or singing? I don’t know. But the language – by both – but the language was so bad, that many of the people left. By the time Hillary got up, there was nobody there,” Trump said.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Singer Beyonce and rapper Jay Z perform onstage during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

5. Rihanna

In 2011, Rihanna cancelled a performance at Trump charity event due to illness. When she was seen the day after the charity event at the NBA All-Star game, Trump said her cancellation was insulting. “But for Rihanna to go to the All-Star Game and perform after she told us she was sick, that is just a lack of respect,” he said.

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Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain cremated in France, remains returning to US

Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 5:41 PM

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

Award-winning celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has been cremated in France and his remains are returning to the United States on Friday, according to news reports.

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Bourdain, the host of CNN’s popular, Emmy-winning “Parts Unknown” for 11 seasons, was found dead in in Kaysersberg, France, a week ago. The medical examiner ruled his death a suicide after he was found unresponsive in his luxury hotel room by close friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert.

Bourdain, 61, was in France filming another episode for his show.

He was cremated in a private service in France, according to People magazine and other outlets who cited anonymous sources. Since his divorce from Octavia Busia in 2016 was not finalized, she is legally his next of kin. The couple had a daughter, who is now 11.

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain attends The (RED) Supper hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain on June 2, 2016 in New York City. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

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Funeral arrangements for Bourdain have not been made public yet.

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