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Ray Wylie Hubbard befriends a Beatle

Courtesy photo
Texas singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard appears Sunday on "Mountain Stage."
Courtesy photo
A long-time admirer of Ringo Starr's songwriting and solo career, Hubbard became friends with the British pop icon. The two collaborated on a track from Hubbard's latest album.
WANT TO GO?"Mountain Stage" With Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dar Williams, the dB's, Arthur Alligood and The New Rope String BandWHERE: Culture Center TheaterWHEN: 7 p.m. SundayTICKETS: Advance $25, at the door $15INFO: 800-594-TIXX or www.mountainstage.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ray Wylie Hubbard is threatening to write his memoirs. Well, it's not exactly a threat, but he's still writing things down."Everybody else is doing it," said Hubbard, who plays "Mountain Stage" Sunday. "I got a bunch of old crazy road stories. It's not quite Motley Crue, but I've had some adventures."A lot of adventures. And after almost 50 years of playing music, the 65 year-old elder statesman of the Texas music scene is still having them.Some of these adventures are funny. Others are kind of weird. A few don't seem particularly likely -- like how Hubbard became friends with Ringo Starr."I met Ringo out in California," Hubbard said. "Brent Carpenter, who does all his videos, came out to a show." Hubbard and his band were playing songs from his album, "Snake Farm." Carpenter was impressed. He got the record, then made Starr a copy."He didn't even buy him a copy," the singer/songwriter groaned. "He burned him one."But he took the copy to Starr and told him, "There's this guy in Texas I think you'll like."It turns out the former Beatle's musical tastes include gritty folk and blues artists who write fun songs about life among the depressed and depraved. Starr even acknowledged Hubbard in a podcast along with Bob Dylan and Jerry Lee Lewis.
On Hubbard's next visit to L.A., Carpenter came out and said, "Ringo wants to meet you." So Hubbard and his drummer went to Starr's mansion and hung out."Sure, he's a Beatle," Hubbard said. "But he's a great musician."
A friendship kind of took off."The next thing is he invited me out to Radio City Music Hall for his birthday. I went up on stage to sing 'With A Little Help From My Friends.'"They kept in touch, corresponding by e-mail. Starr said he liked Hubbard's songwriting. Hubbard said he liked Starr's songwriting. The British pop superstar told him, "Nobody thinks of me as a songwriter. I'm a Beatle and a drummer."Hubbard said he didn't think that way. He was a fan.
He told Starr, "One of my favorite songs is a bonus track from 'Beacoups of Blues' called 'Coochy, Coochy.' I may cut that."The former Beatle said he'd love to hear it.Hubbard cut the track, then offered Starr the chance to add his own touches to the recording, to play drums on it if he wanted. But Starr liked the drums on the record and didn't want to change them. So he added shakers and sang a little on the track, which is on Hubbard's latest album, "The Grifter's Hymnal."Hubbard laughed. "So I got a Beatle on my record."He wasn't entirely sure if he and Starr will ever play the song together live, but Hubbard said he's supposed to be at the drummer's birthday bash at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in July.That might be another adventure to add to Hubbard's cache. He might be writing his memoirs, but he's not through making memories. He still tours as much as he can, though it's maybe not as crazy as it used to be. He frequently tours with his 19-year-old son, who plays guitar in the band.His songwriting, too, sometimes reflects his later in life maturity."When you get older," he said, "you think about your own mortality."Some of his songs have spiritual themes and imagery. He said he reads about a lot of different spiritual practices."I like to think I have my feet in both worlds," he said. "I have songs asking God why, and I have songs about strippers and Les Pauls. I'm able to look at things both ways."The book may or may not happen, but Hubbard is going to give it a try."Worst comes to worst," he said, "I can give them as Christmas gifts."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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