Terri Hemmert's Magical Mystery Encounter With Ringo Starr

A life changing encounter.

August 12, 2019

(Rob Grabowski/Grabowskiphotography.com)

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OK. Here it is. My magical mystery encounter with Ringo at Ravinia.

Related: SETLIST: Ringo Starr Gets By With A Little Help From His Friends At Ravinia

I knew my boss was trying to arrange a meet and greet with Ringo, and didn't think he could. I wasn't disappointed because I'm not that fond of trolling around backstage unless it's a musician I know or has asked to see me. And I've had a few brief encounters with Ringo, and he was never rude, but it wasn't exactly a fan's dream come true. There was a lot going on. So when they brought me backstage I thought I would be ushered into a room with a bunch of people and Ringo lounging on the couch wondering how many times he's done this in his life.

Well I was brought into a room, but it was just Ringo. Standing there. Waiting to chat with me. Just the two of us.

I was a bit caught off guard then he said something like "You must be the Beatle lady." I was stunned. Duh. I said something to the effect of "Busted." And he asked for a hug. He couldn't be sweeter. I don't know what those folks told him about me but he was "present."

So all of a sudden the ball was in my court. I was not ready for that. So I basically spent the next couple of minutes thanking him for giving me a dream that would lead to a remarkable life journey. I told him that in high school I saw a picture of him in a teen magazine being interviewed during the 1965 U.S. tour by Disc Jockey Jim Stagg. Told that story a million times. But here I was face to face telling Ringo. He remembered Jim because he was a radio correspondent on all three U.S. tours.

I told Ringo that I met Jim several times, before and after I made it on the air, and since Jim's passing I've gotten to know his marvelous wife and daughters. Told Ringo they gave me a beautiful framed photo from the 1966 tour, with Jim sitting with his mike and tape player, surrounded by four smiling Beatles. It hangs by my front door and I look at it everyday. Told Ringo I've spent my life talking to school kids encouraging them to follow their dream and see where it takes them.

Having a dream is a gift. Ringo knew what I was talking about and told me a couple of times he followed his dream against all odds, and look where it got him. I already knew the stories about wanting to move to Houston, and his friends thinking he'd lost his mind to leave Liverpool's most popular band with Rory Story to join the Beatles. Turned out he was right to follow his heart.

Yeah I knew those stories but hearing them from Ringo…Wow.

He asked if I'd gotten to meet the others. Told him I've met Paul several times but never met John and George. I did tell him I got to see Paul receive the Gershwin award at the White House and he seemed pleased.

I was wearing a small white button with tiny print. He asked what it said. I said take a look. So he moved closer and broke into a big smile. Said he loved it. It said "Imagine Peace." He asked if I'd ever met Yoko. I said many times and worked with her on a project with the Peace Museum. Said she was very sweet. Ringo agreed.

HE WAS SO SWEET.

I never like to overstay my welcome, so I thought I'm gonna wrap this up before they come in looking for me. So I told Ringo I just wanted to thank him for myself and every Beatle fan I've met for bringing music and magic into our lives and bringing us so much joy. Told him it was more that pop music. Life changing And it's still happening. Also told him how happy I was that he's still doing what he loves and seems very happy and grateful for the life he's been living.

I then said I'd tell him what I told Paul….I feel I chose my heroes well. And he gave me another sweet smile. Then I thanked him for his time and he said how bout another hug. Hmmmm. OK. YES.

And he gave me another hug. I did not expect that whole encounter. Pinch me I'm dreaming. But I wasn't. It really happened. Ringo was really sweet and connected. And I walked out of there on a cloud.

Thank you Ringo. Thank you Jim Stagg. Thank you Greg Solk and Ravinia staff for making that happen. I am so pumped for The Fest For Beatles Fans. There will be a lot of peace and love….and hugs there. Paul kissed my sister Julie. Ringo hugged me twice. The Hemmert sisters are lucky girls.