Ringo Starr’s first tour as a solo artist was a big deal. Apart from a few one-off performances, he hadn’t played live since his time with the Beatles. That means when the All-Starr Band debuted in 1989, it had been more than 20 years since the drummer had been touring. Ringo faced his fears on this tour as it was the first test of his newfound sobriety, but he inspired another Rock & Roll Hall of Famer to embrace sobriety as well.
The Beatles’ split wasn’t easy for Ringo. He lost the three people he routinely called his brothers when the Fab Four broke up in a storm of ego clashes and fighting. The drummer reached unprecedented heights with the band, and by 1970 it was all over.
Ringo said he was angry for 20 years after the split. Solo records soon followed (he released four albums by 1974), but the drummer also began drinking heavily. Ringo lived and partied like a rock star. His experience with alcohol was clear to Paul and Linda McCartney, but they were afraid to talk to Ringo about it.
Ringo, who often woke up hungover and wondered why the birds were coughing, has been sober since 1988. In 1989, he embarked on his first All Starr Band tour, which inspired another Rock & Roll Hall of Famer to also get sober.
Ringo tested his sobriety on the All-Starr Band’s first tour in 1989, as alcohol had been such a big part of his musical routine in the past.
The drummer passed his sobriety test despite many of his fellow musicians not being sober. David Fishof, who started the All-Starr Band, said five of the band’s nine musicians went into rehab after the tour ended, per With a little help Author Michael Seth Starr (no relation to Ringo).
One of those five was Dr. John, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011:
This first All Starr Band tour may have been inundated with alcohol and drugs, but Ringo stayed sober and inspired Dr. John to follow the same route after the tour ended.
The first iteration of the All-Starr Band featured plenty of firepower. Ringo’s future brother-in-law, Joe Walsh, Dr. John, Nils Lofgren, Clarence Clemmons, Levon Helm and Rick Danko of The Band, Billy Preston and session drummer Jim Keltner.
He no longer rejoined the group as a full-time player, but a still sober Dr. John made a guest appearance on a show on the 2008 tour. John saw Ringo join the RNR HOF as a solo artist in 2015 (he joined the Beatles in 1988), a few years after his induction in 2011.
dr John died in 2019 but Ringo Starr inspired him to get sober and live the last 20 years of his life addiction free.
To get help: In the United States, contact the Administration of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.