Like a legion of Beatles fans around the world, Ringo Starr is anxiously awaiting the final version of The Beatles: Get Back, the three-episode, six-hour documentary Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson is making about the group’s Let It Be recording sessions. But Starr has an inside track, too.
“We’re still hanging out,” Starr told reporters during a virtual press conference to promote his new EP, Change The World, that comes out tomorrow. “Peter’s still doing it. He’s locked down in New Zealand because of the pandemic. Now the documentary is … a little longer now. It’s great. Peter Jackson is our hero. He’s done a great job. I love it, but I’m in it, of course, so six hours is never enough.”
Chatting with UCR afterward, Starr adds: “Peter Jackson took control of it, and we do thank him from the bottom of our heart. It’s now a six-hour masterpiece. …There’s so many moments in the whole documentary, in the whole making. We keep looking around the corner for the hobbits.” (The Beatles had rights to make a movie from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous books and approached Stanley Kubrick to direct, but were unable to get it made.)
Starr says that while Get Back is still in process, he’s seen plenty from the 55 hours of unused footage shot for the original Let It Be documentary in 1969 that Jackson had on hand. “Peter would come to L.A., bring me stuff to show on his iPhone: ‘Look, we found this!'” he notes. “We’re laughing, fooling around. It’s great.”
Watch a Sneak Peek From ‘The Beatles: Get Back’
Starr is particularly looking forward to changing the narrative of those January 1969 sessions from the downer that was Let It Be to something more representative of what happened during that nearly monthlong process. “I was always moaning about the original,” Starr explains.
“There’s no real joy in it. [Get Back]‘s got the start, the middle, the finish. The start is very slow, and then we get into it, and then we’re at it. Then we’re out. I think everyone will enjoy it because you’ll see this band work really hard. We went through emotional ups and downs and get to where we got every time, but that’s just how it was. Four guys in a room, you’re gonna have a few ups and downs.”
One of the surprising ups, he says, came after Paul McCartney and George Harrison‘s legendary argument, when Harrison quit the group for a few days. “When we realized George left, we played like a heavy metal band,” Starr reveals. “It was so, like, rawr, rawr, rawr. … Our reaction to it was, ‘Get this shit out!’ I love that. That’s just us being us. And we did have a girl singer [Yoko Ono] at the time.
“We had ups and downs, but even around all that – which you’ll see with the Peter Jackson edit – we were having fun, which [Let It Be] never showed, joy and fooling around and shouting at each other. It’s what four guys do. I keep saying that: four guys in a room, there’s a lot of joy.”
Fans are particularly excited to see the Beatles’ legendary final live performance on the rooftop of Apple Corps’ London Headquarters on Jan. 30, 1969, in its entirety. Starr is also excited to have that footage out at long last.
“From, whatever, January 5th to the end of January – within a month we’d made a record and we’d done a record,” he remembers. “On the roof was so great, and we played live again. There’s a great piece in the [footage] for me. Paul says, ‘Who wants to play live?’ and you can hear me in the background going, ‘I do.’ And we did.
“Always the Beatles, we were going to Turkey and somewhere, or we’re going up Everest or we’ll be in a desert, Hawaii, we’ll go to the volcano. Sod it – ‘Let’s just walk across the road’ or ‘Let’s do it on the roof!’ And that’s what we did, and it’s great. The police played a huge part – not that they did anything, but they were moaning at us. It looks really silly in the film.”
The Beatles: Get Back premieres Nov. 25 on Disney+. It will be preceded by a Get Back book on Oct. 12 and Let It Be special anniversary editions and box set three days later.
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