When former Beatle Ringo Starr takes the stage in town this week, it'll be with a little help from his friends.

Some really, really impressive friends. Ringo's backing group is like some kind of all-star cover band playing his Beatles songs, solo material and a bunch of hit songs by other artists, too. Except when they're playing those hits, they're not technically covers, since the band is actually full of the guys who created those tunes.

This summer, Ringo's All-Starr Band includes former Men at Work frontman Colin Hay as well as former Santana lead singer Gregg Rolie, longtime Toto guitarist and vocalist Steve Lukather and former Average White Band musician and vocalist Hamish Stuart. Veteran musicians Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette, who have each toured with many famous acts, are also in the band.

It’s certainly an impressive lineup. With the Beatles, Starr played a part in 34 top-10 singles. All-Starr Band members have been involved in 12 more top-10 songs.

It might even be one of the best groups of sidemen to ever step on stage together. 

But who are the rest? We picked some of our favorite sidemen — musicians who weren't at the front of the group — in rock 'n' roll.

Joe Walsh

An established artist in his own right ("Life's Been Good") and an accomplished session musician, Walsh ended up joining the Eagles, where his guitar work gave them a new edge ("Life in the Fast Lane"). 

Johnny Marr

When you think of The Smiths, your mind may go to lead singer Morrissey. But Marr's guitar work defined the band's sound, and after the group broke up, Marr went on to play with the Pretenders, The The and Modest Mouse. And his solo albums are pretty dang good, too.


Perhaps the most physically recognizable member of Red Hot Chili Peppers, bassist Flea (born Michael Balzary) is the member of the band probably most responsible for its sound, considering his use of slap bass and other funk elements.

Tony Iommi

The founding guitarist of Black Sabbath is one of the best players ever, and though he's a heavy metal pioneer, Iommi was never about playing as fast as he possibly could. Those guitar licks are intricate, sure, but they're precise and full of finesse.  

Tom Morello

The aggressive punk, funk and hip-hop styles of Rage Against the Machine are partly the band's attitude, but mostly Morello's pioneering guitar sound. Those record-scratch sounds and siren-like wails and punk/funk riffs? Some magic stuff.

Mike Campbell

Most of what you know as Tom Petty's sound comes from his longtime guitarist, who co-wrote songs including "Refugee," "Here Comes My Girl," "You Got Lucky" and "Runnin' Down a Dream." Oh, and he's done some great work for others, too.

Cindy Blackman

You ever see the video for Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way"? That's Blackman bashing away on the drum kit, her playing holding down Kravitz's electric riffs. With a jazz background and a pop sensibility, Blackman has done well playing with Kravitz, Buckethead and her husband, Carlos Santana. 

Meg White

It's her ex-husband who gets all the praise and notice now, but it was Meg holding everything together for the White Stripes with deceptively simple beats.

Carol Kaye

A member of the famed Wrecking Crew, Kaye is one of the most prolific bassists of all time. Kaye (who also played guitar) played in more than 10,000 sessions for recordings such as "Then He Kissed Me," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' " and "These Boots Are Made For Walkin' " as well as songs by Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Barbra Streisand. 

Clarence Clemons

For a rock 'n' roll band like the E Street Band, it's surprising that the sax player would have such an important spot. But the Big Man's sax is some of the most memorable stuff from "Born to Run," "Badlands" and even "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

Kenny Aronoff

For a long time, Aronoff was John Mellencamp's drummer, and that iconic, slow-played drum solo from "Jack & Diane" is all him. Since departing from Mellencamp's band, Aronoff has played with Bob Seger, Melissa Etheridge, John Fogerty and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Get to know Ringo Starr

Born Richard Starkey, Starr joined Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon in The Beatles in the ’60s.

Though most well known as the band’s drummer, Starr wrote songs including “Octopus’s Garden” and “Don’t Pass Me By.” He also sang lead vocals on Beatles recordings including “Act Naturally,” “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

After the Fab Four’s breakup, Starr released several solo albums, starting with “Sentimental Journey” in 1970.

His 1973 album, “Ringo,” was a hit, and it featured the rest of the Beatles and numerous other guest stars. Two songs from the album, “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen,” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s singles chart.

That collaborative style went on to become something of Starr’s signature.

Starr created the All-Starr Band in 1989, and the group has had a rotating membership, featuring members of other accomplished bands.

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