Why I've Turned to God at 70 Ringo Starr

By Ben Todd
Last updated at 9:40 AM on 03rd February 2010

John Lennon caused a worldwide storm by claiming that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Now, more than four decades on, it seems his former bandmate Ringo Starr has acknowledged a humbler place in the grand scheme of things.

The drummer says he has found God - after taking a long and winding road to enlightenment.

He admitted he lost his way when he was younger, both as a Beatle experimenting with marijuana and LSD and afterwards when he suffered alcohol and cocaine problems in the late 1970s.

But the musician, who has since become teetotal and quit his 60-a-day cigarette habit, says that religion now plays an important role in his life.

Starr, who turns 70 later this year, said: 'I feel the older I get, the more I'm learning to handle life. Being on this quest for a long time, it's all about finding yourself.

'For me, God is in my life. I don't hide from that. I think the search has been on since the 1960s.

'I stepped off the path there for many years and found my way back onto it, thank God.' Starr was speaking at an event at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

It was in 1966 that his late bandmate John Lennon announced that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Lennon - who was murdered in 1980 - said: 'Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that. I'm right and I will be proved right.

'We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first - rock and roll or Christianity-Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.'

When a U.S. magazine reprinted some of the interview, protests broke out in the Staes and Beatles records were publicly burned.

The protests then spread to other countries, including Mexico, South Africa and Spain.

The Fab Four's 1966 tour was their last and they split in 1970.

In his latest interview Starr - a vegetarian who is married to former Bond girl Barbara Bach and now splits his time between homes in Los Angeles, London and Monaco - also told how he finds it far easier to deal with life now he is approaching his 70th birthday in July.

He said: 'Seventy's not as big as 40 was. Forty was "Oh, God, 40!"

'There's that damn song, Life Begins at 40. No, it's not so big any more. I am nearly 70, and I'd love to be nearly 40, but that's never going to happen.

'I feel the older I get, the more I'm learning to handle life.'

Starr is not the first Sixties music icon to embrace religion.

In 1978, Bob Dylan became a bornagain Christian, but by 1983 this period appeared to end and the singer reportedly reverted to his roots in Judaism.