Ringo Starr was the only actual Beatle on stage to accept a special Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award on behalf of the legendary group who in the 1960s led a musical and cultural revolution, and whose impact is still felt profoundly today.
Starr and Paul McCartney are the only two surviving members of the Fab Four, but McCartney, 71, was busy rehearsing for a TV special set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, Variety reported. That special will air February 9, exactly 50 years after The Beatles’ historic first appearance on Ed Sullivan.
The other two Beatles, of course, have died. John Lennon was gunned down by a disturbed stalker outside his New York apartment building on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40. George Harrison passed away due to cancer at age 58 on November 29, 2001.
“It’s a Lifetime Achievement Award, but I feel like we’ve all got a lot more life left in us,” Ringo Starr told the audience. “It’s a great afternoon, it’s all about music. The Beatles’ music is still out there and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
The widows of the two deceased Beatles, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono, joined Ringo Starr on stage and Los Angeles’ Wilshire Ebell Theatre Saturday afternoon to receive the award from Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow.
In keeping with the youthful spirit of cheeky rebellion that characterized the Beatles meteoric rise five decades ago, the 73-year-old Ringo Starr showed up wearing jeans, a black t-shirt under a casual sportjacket, and multicolored sneakers with red laces, as Britain’s Daily Mail described.
The Daily Mail was once famously name-checked by The Beatles, in their 1966 Number One hit single, “Paperback Writer.”
Though The Beatles’ honor was unquestionably well-deserved, one can only wonder why it took the Recording Academy more than four decades since the breakup of The Beatles to honor the “Lifetime Achievement” of a group without whom, arguably, the recording industry would have barely survived over the past several decades.
But the Grammys were never especially welcoming toward The Beatles. Of the group’s 12 original studio albums only one was ever honored as “Album of the Year,” though all 12, especially the six the group produced from late 1965 until The Beatles’ breakup in 1970, are acknowledged as landmarks of popular music.
The Beatles monumental Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album won the 1967 award. The only other Beatles album honored was 1970’s Let it Be, but that won not for “Album of Year,” but in the film soundtrack category, according to the Grammys’ web site.
The Beatles’ brilliant Rubber Soul album released in December of 1965, lost out to a Frank Sinatra LP, September of My Years. The following year The Beatles issued the even-more-revolutionary Revolver album. But that one, too, lost to a Sinatra LP, A Man and His Music.
None of that mattered to Ringo Starr, however, who was jovial as he accepted the Lifetime Achievement, and will perform on stage with McCartney at Sunday night’s Grammy ceremony.