In a conversation with late-night show host Conan O’Brien, former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr got real about his feelings regarding Beatles fan conventions. The multi-day festivals, much like Comic-Cons or other large-scale fan events, draw Beatles lovers of all ages, nationalities, and persuasions eager to sit back and let the evening go.
The “Photograph” singer throughout the years has had a love/hate relationship with the Fab Four’s devotees but his comments to O’Brien could be taken as a sign that the eldest Beatle, in the end, does care.
Starr’s spotty relationship with Beatles’ fans
In 2008, Starr took to his website to formally ask the band’s fans to stop writing him. It wasn’t clear at that point what had set off this request by the “It Don’t Come Easy” artist, but his remarks were anything but unclear. It was an unwelcoming message the artist formerly known as ‘the funny Beatle” issued to fans.
“This is a serious message to everybody watching my update right now,” Starr began in his videotaped communication. “Peace and love, peace and love. I want to tell you, please the 20th of October, do not send fan mail to any address that you have.”
Specifically, Starr made it clear he would no longer be signing any autographs for any fans any longer – “warning” his fans “with peace and love.”
“Nothing signed after the 20th of October,” he continued. “If that has the date on the envelope, it’s gonna be tossed. I’m warning you with peace and love, I have too much to do. No more fan mail. Thank you, thank you. And no more objects to be signed. Nothing. Anyway, peace and love, peace and love.”
What Starr told Conan O’Brien about Beatles conventions
In his conversation with O’Brien, the late night host told Starr that he himself is “one of those people who knows more about you than you know about you.” In essence, O’Brien confessed to being a Beatles fanatic and introduced the topic of the group’s fan conferences (“it borders on craziness,” he observed). Called Beatlefests and more recently The Fest for Beatles Fans, the conventions gather booth after booth of Beatles merchants selling every possibly imagined item to rabid fans of the Liverpudlian band.
Starr, asked by O’Brien if he had ever attended a Beatles conference, replied, “Let me tell you, I’ve never been to one. But a lot of people who do go say they have a good time.”
The former Beatle did mention the aspect of the conventions that bothered him most. It regarded the merchandise sold because the fans, in his opinion, aren’t buying true memorabilia.
“The only problem I have with it is that a lot of the stuff they’re selling is stuff from now,” he said. “And not from then.”
Starr explained why his 2008 message was so harsh
Starr appeared in 2018 on Howard Stern’s radio show during which the host brought up that infamous message to fans. Talking it out with Stern allowed the artist to get down to the core reason for it.
“That was one angry moment,” the drummer explained.
It turned out, as Starr revealed, his message to fans had been recorded in exasperation. Starr told Stern that to his great disappointment, he had “found out, because I was signing [autographs]. Suddenly, I was in New York, actually, I was signing scratchplates that they have on guitars.
“And someone said, ‘Have you seen these on the internet?’ There’s a guitar with my signature on the scratchplate someone had screwed onto a sh*t guitar and they were selling them for three grand. And I was saying, ‘No.’ So, I only sign for charity now, and mainly my charity and [his wife] Barbara’s charity.”
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