Their paths don’t cross frequently these days, but put Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr into a room together and within a heartbeat they’re displaying the easy but deep camaraderie forged more than half a century ago on their way to becoming the biggest rock band on the planet.
“No, he is good — I take back what I just said about him,” McCartney says, smiling wryly as Starr strolls back into the swank Las Vegas hotel suite and takes a seat next to his erstwhile other half in the Beatles rhythm section. The drummer had stepped out for a bottle of water during a short break between interviews surrounding the Ron Howard-directed documentary about the Beatles as a performing unit, “Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years.”
McCartney had started relating an infamous remark by jazz drummer Buddy Rich to a reporter, but was interrupted. Finishing the thought, with Starr back at his side, McCartney related that “Buddy kind of made fun of Ringo for not being real technical.”
Flashing the signature sharp Liverpool wit in response, Starr shot back, “yeah, but I always thought he sounded like rats running around a [drum] kit.
The friendship created some 60 years ago among four lads who grew up blocks apart from one another is one that’s also front and center in the documentary that opens nationally in mid-September.
The Oscar-winning director Howard joined the two surviving subjects of his film at the interview, often sitting back and listening to their banter with as much interest and enjoyment as any longtime fan.
“Eight Days a Week” chronicles the astonishing wild ride the Beatles were on during the first half of their eight-year life as a group, through the height of Beatlemania. Howard, who vividly recalls watching their live U.S. performance debut in 1964 on “The Ed Sullivan Show” just before he turned 10, agreed to direct the documentary in hopes of illustrating to a new generation just how extraordinary the group and their journey was.
“I felt it was incumbent upon me to try to do two things,” Howard, 62, explained. “One was to honor the fans who really would know the difference — the really dedicated fans, of which there are zillions.
“But I also thought it was even more important to try to tell a story that would convey to people who really have no idea — I’m thinking of the millennials, I suppose; people who have grown up with the music and think they know something of the story — the intensity of the journey and the impact they had.”
That’s a big part of what appealed to Howard to sign on in 2012 to direct his first documentary, although he subsequently took on another doc, “Made in America” released in 2013.