See the Moments: Ringo Starr at the Sunset Marquis
By Guest Blogger: Tassoula
The crowd noise that leads into the opening guitar riff of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has conditioned listeners to anticipate what comes next. Over five decades later, that 11 seconds of euphoric tension has music fans like me programmed to respond to similar sounds, regardless of the setting. My most recent trigger was the din of guests at the opening reception for the Ringo Starr: Photographs of An Iconic Life and Career exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery (MHG) to celebrate his new book, Another Day In The Life.
As fans entered—some as young as 8 and others as old as 80—the cacophony of their common energy was palpable: pure joy and excitement. Art by a Beatle, no matter the medium, simply never gets old.
As the legendary album Abbey Road played in the background, attendees at the reception enjoyed photos of The Beatles throughout their career, shot by Starr and other notable photographers. The images included everything from the group’s arrival at JFK airport in America to outtakes from the Sgt. Pepper album cover shoot. In addition, a small selection of Starr’s limited edition signed graphics were also on display and are available for purchase exclusively through Morrison Hotel Gallery.
Watching fellow fans respond to the images was nearly as fun as seeing the images themselves. Reactions ranged from gasps and squeals to quiet reverence at the sight of their rock ’n’ roll heroes.
Morrison Hotel Gallery co-owner Timothy White reflected on what it means to have an icon like Starr presenting in the Sunset Marquis space: “This is what Morrison Hotel Gallery is all about—it’s truly about the musical journey on all levels: visually and viscerally.” He went on to remark that no one else can deliver what Starr brings from a comprehensive artistic perspective, which captures the essence of the offerings MHG is famous for bringing to its customers.
For those who were unable to attend the opening reception, the exhibit will remain on display in the coming days.
Instead of writing a traditional memoir, Starr decided to share over 500 of his photographs accompanied by his own narratives. With his trademark wit and tell-it-like-it-is delivery, the stories inspire smiles with each turn of the page.
Grouped by topic, he presents photos of everything from leftover meals to unidentified species of birds. Through these brief journeys, we get to know Starr not just as a legendary drummer, but also a grandfather, a painter, and a lover of nature.
Though the book is quite lighthearted, it’s also beautifully sentimental with regard to his bandmates as he proclaims, “Paul [McCartney] is my favorite musician,” and discusses his visit to the John Lennon Wall in Prague.
Starr’s photography is a mix of life-as-it-happens captures and carefully staged creative expressions, often presented in completely opposite ways. Curious about where he draws his ideas from, I asked him if there were any photographers who inspire him. After a thoughtful pause, he responded, “Richard Avedon, for sure. And Henry! Henry Diltz.”
Avedon took the iconic psychedelic-style photographs of The Beatles in 1967; Diltz is a celebrated rock ’n’ roll photographer and co-founder of the Morrison Hotel Gallery.
Starr admits that he sometimes regrets when he doesn’t stop to get a spontaneous shot: “It’s always worth spending a moment to take that photo. Sometimes I don’t bother. But I’m always sorry afterward.”
The first 50 Morrison Hotel Gallery customers to purchase prints from the new collection got the opportunity to meet Starr in person at a special event during the opening weekend.
Fans lined up to say hello and have a photo taken with the legend in front of a display of his work. At ease chatting with attendees, Starr flashed his signature peace sign with each flash of the camera.
Though these photos were understandably structured, there was something special about the spontaneous exchanges between the photographer and his collectors in the moment.
In his book, Starr mentioned the importance of spontaneity and the significance of harnessing it. He wrote, “With photography, you just see the moment, and that’s what you want to capture.”
For a man who has given the world so many magical moments, it’s lovely to see that he’s mastered the art of capturing some for himself.
To purchase “Another Day In The Life,” or inquire about Starr’s photography, visit the Morrison Hotel Gallery website.