The Grammy Museum has landed an impressive roster of artists for its series of question-and-answer and performance sessions in the year since it opened at the L.A. Live complex downtown. Among the participants: Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Annie Lennox, Dwight Yoakam, Herb Alpert, Harry Connick Jr. and Clive Davis, Rage Against the Machine / The Nightwatchman’s Tom Morello and Dave Matthews.
But even in such rarefied company, a former Beatle commands special attention, which helped explain the star-dotted turnout for Tuesday night’s drop-in by Ringo Starr. In the house: guitarist Joe Walsh (an official member of the family since his 2008 marriage to Marjorie Bach, the sister of Starr’s wife, Barbara Bach), George Harrison’s singer-songwriter-guitarist son, Dhani Harrison, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, rocker Edgar Winter and Roy Orbison’s widow, Barbara.
“The tickets sold out in eight minutes -- that’s a new record for the museum,” executive director Robert Santelli said during his introduction for Starr, who came as part of promotional efforts for his just-released album, “Y Not.”
Santelli quizzed Starr about serving on the new album as producer for the first time. Looking snappy and trim in a black suit jacket over an Elvis Presley T-shirt he’d just picked up in the museum’s store, dark glasses, black jeans and running shoes, Starr said he had to overcome some trepidation about taking over the production role, but relished realizing that the time had come when “I’ll tell the guitarist what to do.”
He addressed the presence of Paul McCartney on two of the new tracks: singing harmony on the single “Walk With You” and playing bass on “Peace Dream,” a song that invokes the name and longtime peace message of John Lennon. “He understands my drumming,” Starr deadpanned, “because we used to play together.”