Ringo Starr Reflects on John Lennon's Death in New Interview with Dave Grohl

The two opened up about their experience with mourning their bandmates' deaths

BY Allie GregoryPublished Oct 30, 2019

In a recent interview between Beatles legend Ringo Starr and Nirvana/Foo Fighters hero Dave Grohl, the two drummers spoke in-depth about their storied careers, and the deaths of their bands' respective frontmen, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain.

In the interview facilitated by Rolling Stone as a part of its "Musicians on Musicians" issue, when the topic of Cobain's death comes up, Starr detailed his experience finding out about the assassination of his own former frontman:

When John went, I was in the Bahamas. I was getting a phone call from my stepkids in L.A. saying, "Something's happened to John." And then they called and said, "John's dead." And I didn't know what to do. And I still well up that some bastard shot him. But I just said, "We've got to get a plane." We got a plane to New York, and you don't know what you can do. We went to the apartment. "Anything we can do?" And Yoko just said, "Well, you just play with Sean. Keep Sean busy." And that's what we did. That's what you think: "What do you do now?"

Starr went on to describe a recent time when he first heard a demo of Lennon's "Grow Old with Me," where Lennon mentions Starr at the start of the recording.

The interesting thing is this guy Jack Douglas, the producer, brought this track of John's to me just this year; I'd never heard it. So he's still in my life. And so it's on the new album. But why he gave me this CD is [because] at the beginning, John says, "Oh, that would be great for Richard Starkey."

I well up every time I think [about it] — he's talking about me. He says, "Hey, Ringo, this'd be great for you." And I can't help myself. I'm emotional now thinking of him 40 years ago talking about me on his tape and thinking of me.

Grohl continued in the interview to speak about the difficulty of mourning in the public eye, from his experience dealing with the high-profile death of Cobain.

I realized when Kurt died that there's no right or wrong way to grieve. It takes funny turns. You'll be numb. You'll remember the good things, then you'll turn and remember some dark times.

It's also difficult when one of your friends or someone that you're very close to, in real life, has become something more than a human being to others. So you sit in an interview and someone asks you these questions that are really emotional, that you'd never ask another stranger.

John Lennon was shot four times outside his Manhattan apartment on December 8, 1980. He died in the hospital that night.

Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994.

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