Backstage Pass: Nancy Lee Andrews offers a glimpse at life with Ringo

After six years of being with Ringo Starr — at home, in the studio, on the set and, seemingly, all around the world — Nancy Lee Andrews certainly does have her memories.

And now, we have them, too, in a book of pictures and prose called “A Dose Of Rock & Roll” that is both fascinating to look at and to read. It is an exquisite memoir of more than half a decade spent in the company of The Beatles and virtually every other important figure in rock and roll from that time.

Nancy joined me recently on my national radio program, “The Beatles Show,” to talk about the book and the time in her life that inspired it.

How would you describe the book?

Nancy Lee Andrews: I would describe it as an essay-scrapbook of the ’70s. I guess, an homage to the musicians and the people that pretty much touched my life and Ringo’s during that time. 

You were with Ringo from 1974 to 1980, and you met Ringo through John Lennon.

NLA: That’s right. I had met John through my first love, Carl Radle, who was a great bass player… Derek & the Dominoes. And, when Carl and I broke up, I said, “I’m going to go to L.A.” And, when I got there, John said, “Well, we’ll look after you,” because he happened to be out there at the time with May Pang. So, I started hanging out with John, and he introduced me to Ringo ’cause, at the time, Ringo was estranged from his wife (Maureen).

The first time I met him (at a birthday party for Mal Evans), there was a party at the beach house (where John and May Pang were living), and there was a sunroom where the guys were playing poker, and someone said, “Hey, Nan, come in here. We need another hand.” And the only chair open was right next to Ringo, and that’s when I first met him, really. That was a few months before John set us up. I think the two of them got together on something.

Ringo’s Rotogravure is a really significant album in terms of Beatles’ history, because it’s the last album to which all four members of the band contributed new songs. And it’s really pretty much overlooked.

NLA: That’s true.

And one of the songs Ringo wrote was a song called “Las Brisas,” which has some significance to you, because you’re the co-writer of it. Where did it come from?

NLA: I think it was kind of a gift to us. We were down in Mexico, and we were staying at the Las Brisas Hotel, and he was doing some publicity for the Goodnight Vienna album. I was very taken by the language, and we had some wonderful Mexican people around us, and I was asking what the words meant. Las brisas means “the breeze.” Penumbra means “the sunset.” And I started writing this little poem. And Ringo said to me, “What have you got there?” And I said, “I’m hearing these beautiful Mexican words.” And he looked at it and said, “Man, let’s turn this into a song!” And the next thing you know we’re in the studio with a Mariachi band — those fabulous horns — and he turned it into a song.

Did you write any other songs with him?

NLA: Yeah, we wrote a couple more, but they never made it onto an album.

Was there a lot of stuff left over from those sessions?

NLA: You know, I don’t think so. From what I remember, by the time they got in the studio, it was a surgical strike.

In other words, they knew what they wanted to do. They went in and they did it.

NLA: Yes.

Paul played on the album with Linda. They did &l

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