‘It’s just me and him': Toto’s Steve Lukather on his fun new song with Ringo Starr

Steve Lukather says he gained an even deeper appreciation for Ringo Starr’s easy-going brilliance at the drums while collaborating on a new song for the former Beatles’ upcoming solo album. Impishly titled “You Bring the Party Down,” it’s part of an as-yet unnamed followup to Starr’s Ringo 2012.

“We wrote this song, and it’s a really fun song — and it’s just me and him on the track,” the co-founding Toto guitarist tells us in an exclusive SER Sitdown, laughing heartily. “It’s a very tongue-in-cheek song.”

Lukather, of course, has been appearing regularly with Ringo’s All-Starr Band since 2012, and recently appeared with with Starr and Paul McCartney as part of the gala Grammy-sponsored television special celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Still, this new session’s intimate setting offered fresh insights into the way Starr operates in the studio.

“He played incredible drums,” says Lukather, who is also working on a long-awaited new Toto studio effort. “He’s got such a wicked, swing pocket. Some people don’t appreciate how great of a drummer he is, and what he brought to the party for the Beatles with that unique style of playing. No, he’s not Neil Peart. But, it’s like I told Ringo: ‘You’ve heard the story of the chicken and egg? You’re the egg.’ None of these cats, and they’ll be the first to tell you, none of them would be doing this without Ringo. He changed the world. That’s just the truth. The Beatles changed the planet — and that’s a pretty heavy thing to say.”

As with his last two albums, Starr has been recording as the inspiration strikes inside his LA guest house. Joe Walsh, his long-time friend and in-law, is expected to once again guest on the project. Richard Marx, a former member of Ringo’s 2006-era All-Starr Band, says he has also contributed, as well. There’s no announced release date for the project, but Lukather says another round of All-Starr dates has ended up serving as a kind of deadline. “He’s working on it hard right now,” Lukather tells us. “He’s got a lot of really cool people. He’s trying to finish it before we go out.”

The All-Starr Band’s next 28-date run begins in June at Ontario, Canada and continues into July with dates in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas and Los Angeles, among others. In many ways, Lukather is still trying to take it all in. “It’s surreal, wonderfully surreal. If you would have told me, when I picked up a guitar after seeing The Ed Sullivan Show, that one day — 50 years from today — you’ll be on stage …,” Lukather marvels. “Ringo’s my friend. We’ve become really good friends. I love this man.”

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.