Feb. 19, 2010— -- Former Beatle Ringo Starr recently sat down with "Nightline" at the Village recording studio in Los Angeles to talk about his new album, "Y Not," and some of the music that has influenced him in the course of his long career.
Starr, who'll be 70 in July, was resistant to the idea of reducing his favorite sounds to a short list."I love music," Starr said. "You know, people say, 'Your top 10.' I don't have a top 10, I have a top thousand or 2,000. Music has meant a lot, you know."
Born Richard Starkey Jr., in Liverpool, England, in 1940, Starr joined his first band at 17. He officially became one of the Beatles in August 1962 and superstardom soon followed. After Starr's solo career took off in 1970, he began to act on the side, in offbeat roles such as Mr. Conductor on the 1989 PBS show "Shining Time Station."
For "Y Not," Starr collaborated with former Beatle and old friend Paul McCartney.
Starr talked about some of the tracks that sound best to him these days:
Elvis Presley, "Don't Be Cruel"
"I was working in this factory and I took this girl to the movies because I had no money," he said. "The only seats left were two in the front, and we're in the front row and, haha, [I was] trying to impress her in the front row. She worked in the office of the factory I worked in, and, anyway, the date didn't go well. And I snuck up into her office, and on the dictaphone I recorded 'Don't Be Cruel.' So that's an important song. And Elvis was the best, Elvis the King."
Little Richard, "Good Golly Miss Molly"
"Little Richard and his band was so great," Starr said." Little Richard ... was sensational. And the power of it, when you're a kid in Liverpool, of this guy in a band, and he was so just like, 'Whooo,' so strong. And it was great. The whole thing about Little Richard was great. And rock 'n' roll is so important to me, and he is certainly an icon of rock 'n' roll. He'd probably say, 'the icon.'"
Playlist: Ringo Starr
The Beatles, "Rain"
"'Rain' is great, because the drums are weird on 'Rain,' and I felt I only played like that on 'Rain.' Then I went back to playing like I play. It was faster ... no one else knows, they just say, 'Oh, they're playing that.' But to me the drums, I felt, had another quality. I've never played like that since, I don't feel. ... I was asked the other day about naming an obscure Beatle track, and I was saying, 'Are there any?' I don't know. That was the best band in the land, and I was part of it, and the other three were incredible musicians, and I think we had more than that, where we understood what we were all thinking when we were making it.
"And we had our ups and downs and some days were angry days, but as soon as we got to counting, one, two, three, everyone dialed into the music. We put all that aside."
Bob Dylan, "When the Deal Goes Down"
"You just got to love Bob," Starr said. "My old-time favorite lately is 'When the Deal Goes Down,' and it's just a beautiful love song. ... It's this beautiful love song, he's very romantic in a lot of songs, everyone listens to his wacky dream stuff, which is great. He moves me on that record.
"That's why I like it. If it moves me, it's the sentiment of the record and how he says it. But no one else can say it like that. ... We met him in the '60s in New York. We just sort of bumped into him ever since. He's just an incredible artist that is well-placed in the musical history of American music and world music, so I put Bob down because of all of that. You couldn't do a list without mentioning Bob."
Taylor Swift, "You Belong With Me"
"Taylor Swift. I love Taylor Swift, that's just how I am," Starr said. "I love her. ... And you know you can't doubt the Black-Eyed Peas, that's pretty powerful. But there's hundreds of bands out there. You really can't, I can't hear them all. I didn't [hear] all the acts in the '60s or the '50s, you know, you have to listen to what you listen to."