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From The Sun 23 September 1982


As Ringo Starr has swanned his way around the world with ever-wilder friends and ever- more-beautiful women, his 18-year-old [sic] son, Zak, has been sitting at home quietly seething.

"To be perfectly honest, being Ringo's son is the single biggest drag in my life," says Zak. "It's a total pain. I'm always written about as Ringo's son, always classed in with him in every single thing I try to do."

In the past Zak's anger led to truancy and bitter rows with teachers at his expensive private school in North London, plus a tendency to spend long nights drinking too much. But now he has thrown all his energy into playing frenetic and magnificent drums with a brilliant new band called Monopacific. And he looks all set to become a star - sorry about that! - in his own right as Zak Starkey (Ringo's real name is Richard Starkey).

"I just don't want always to be known as his son," says Zak. "This is a really, really good band - and I'd much rather be respected for my drumming with the rest of the guys than earn a million pounds."

Certainly Zak's furious playing has left everyone who has heard him reeling.

Recently Pete Townshend, The Who's leader, was moved to write to tell me: "Zak has the most accurate emulation of the late Keith Moon's style. Luckily Zak also has a style of his own - but many have been moved when listening to his explosive solos to say: 'Oh my God, it's him!'"

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Zak not only plays with the manic intensity of Moon, he also wears his hair in the same shaggy style, talks exactly like him and drinks similar quantities of Remy Martin brandy - as I discovered to my cost during our quiet drink in a quaint little pub near Ascot, Berks.

"See my old man was never here," says Zak. "During my puberty Moonie was always there with me while my old man was far away in Monte Carlo or somewhere."

Friends say Keith took Zak into his home and treated him as the son he always wanted - but never had. Now Zak plays on a 4000 drum kit given to him by Moon one drunken night in Los Angeles. He has a picture of Moon pinned to the wall in the band's rehearsal room. And Monopacific is managed by Peter "Dougal" Butler, who worked as Moon's personal assistant for ten years.

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"My old man's a good timekeeper, one of the best," says Zak. "But I've never thought of him as a great drummer, not really - at least not until the album he is working on now. But Moonie was the very best in the world. He was just amazing." Nevertheless, it was Ringo who started Zak off as a drummer. "He gave me one lesson - just one - when I was very young. Then he just told me to listen to records and play along with them."

Zak's reservations about his father's drumming prowess also extends to The Beatles. "They were obviously a really good band," he grimaces. "But I don't remember them in the days when they were playing together. And, to be honest, their music doesn't really appeal to me. Now The Who's music, that was different. I've been into The Who since I was six."

Though Ringo allows Monopacific to use the studio in his Ascot mansion when it is free and to rehearse in a disused lodge in the grounds of his 74-acre Berkshire estate, he is careful not to spoil Zak. "People might think I have a lot of money but they would be very wrong," Zak says. "Last Christmas my old man gave me a hi-hat cymbal for my drums which cost him about 40 and my mum - who I live with in North London - gave me a jumper. When I come to rehearsals I have to get a train and walk from the station. I'm every bit as hard-up as the rest of the band. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I want to achieve anything I achieve on my own merits - and nothing else.

"I've got to live in the shadow of my father always and that's a drag. But it's something that I can overcome. You see I don't want to be famous as Ringo's son, I want to be famous as a great drummer. I don't want to be known like Julian Lennon is - for being photographed in places like Stringfellows or Tramp with girls. I think Julian is a very nice bloke but he has been steered in completely the wrong direction. I have tried to talk Julian into getting into a band and doing some work. But he doesn't want to know. He just says, 'I'm all right as I am, don't worry about me.' I think he's acting really stupidly. If he got any money from his dad it's going to run out. He's got to do something with his life. But he is just being talked into doing so many stupid things.

"I've been to nightclubs with my mum occasionally - but the people in them are so awful. Most of those kind of people haven't got money because they've earned it - and they come up to me and talk to me just because of who my dad is."

Monopacific, from left: Zak, Kez Benford, Roger Lewis, Ian Parry and Martin Jowers

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"I'd much rather go for a drink in a local pub where they know me, with old friends and simply have a laugh. Even if I get successful, I don't want to live like my old man - on a big estate and all that."

"I'm not into things like that. I want to be a really good musician with Monopacific. That's all, nothing more."


Interview by John Blake


Comment from the webmistress: I've reproduced this article purely for historical purposes. It's well-documented that Zak and Ringo had their differences when Zak was younger, and also that they've long since put these behind them.