Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr

Richard Starkey, MBE (born July 7, 1940) known by his stage name, Ringo Starr, is a popular British musician, best known as drummer for The Beatles. Ringo is known for his reliable, steady drumming and innovative fills. His everyman personality made him an easy fit with the other Beatles.

Starr married Maureen Cox in 1965, and the couple has three children, Zak, Jason, and Lee. He divorced Maureen in 1975, and married actress Barbara Bach (most famous for her role as the "Bond Girl" in The Spy Who Loved Me) in 1977.


Early years

He was born as Richard Parkin and later became Richard Starkey after his mother divorced and re-married. Richard Starkey was raised in the working class Dingle section of Liverpool. He went through two serious illnesses as a child and spent a total of three years in hospital, thereby falling behind badly in school. After Ringo's last visit to the hospital, at age 15, he could barely read and write.

Like the other Beatles, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney, young Ritchie also eventually became caught up in Liverpool's Skiffle craze. After starting his own group with Eddie Miles called The Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957, he joined The Raving Texans in 1959, a quartet which played while Rory Storm sang. During this time, he got the nickname Ringo, because of the rings he wore, and because it sounded "cowboyish", and the last name Starr so that his drum solos could be billed as "Starr Time".

Ringo first met the Beatles in Hamburg, in October 1960, while they were performing with what had become Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. When the Beatles removed Pete Best as their drummer on August 16, 1962, Ringo was their choice to replace him.

Although, Rory Storm was magnanimous about the theft of his drummer, Pete Best fans were upset, holding vigils outside Pete's house and rioting at the Cavern Club, shouting "Pete Best forever! Ringo never!"

Role in The Beatles

Although some have tried to downplay his contributions to the band, Starr's drumming style played a major role in the overall sound of The Beatles. This is largely attributable to the fact that Ringo is left-handed yet played a right-handed kit; his tendency to therefore lead with the left hand helped produce his own distinctive drumming style.

Many drummers list Starr as a major influence including Max Weinberg of The E Street Band, Liberty DeVitto of Billy Joel's band, Phil Collins, and others. According to Collins, Ringo is "vastly underrated. The drum fills on the video 'A Day in the Life' are very complex things. You could take a great drummer today and say, 'I want it like that.' They wouldn't know what to do." In his extensive survey of The Beatles recording sessions, Mark Lewisohn confirmed that Starr was both proficient, and remarkably reliable and consistent -- according to Lewisohn, there were less than a dozen occasions in the Beatles' eight-year recording career where session 'breakdowns' were caused by Starr making a mistake, while the vast majority of takes were stopped due to mistakes by the other three members. Starr has commented that the most difficult drumming he has ever performed was on the Beatles song "Rain."

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison have all said that Ringo was the best rock and roll drummer in the world, although when asked in an interview once "Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world?" Lennon quipped "He's not the best drummer in the Beatles!" This was in reference to the White Album song "Back In The USSR", in which Paul was forced to do the drumming; Ringo had stormed out earlier and didn't return for two weeks. Paul was also on the drums in "The Ballad of John and Yoko" and "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)", since only Lennon and McCartney were available.

Ringo's easygoing, everyman personality played a major role in the Beatles' success, combining very effectively, Lennon's wit, McCartney's charm, and Harrison's quiet seriousness. With these qualities The Beatles became the "Fab Four".

Ringo generally sang at least one song on each studio album, as part of establishing the vocal personality of all four members. In some cases Lennon or McCartney would write the lyrics and melody especially for him, as Lennon did with "With a Little Help from My Friends", from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and as McCartney did for "Yellow Submarine" from Revolver. Often these melodies would be deliberately limited to take into account Starr's vocal range—most of "With A Little Help From My Friends" is sung within the space of five notes.

Of all the Beatles, Ringo did the least songwriting. The Beatles explained that when he would present a song as a contender for an album cut, the song would (to them) be a clear knockoff of another popular song, but Ringo would not recognize the similarities until they pointed it out. He did, however, write "Don't Pass Me By" (on The White Album) and also, "Octopus's Garden" on the album Abbey Road, albeit with quite a bit of help from Harrison. The former continued to show the taste for country music that Ringo had brought into the band on earlier albums, such as on Rubber Soul's co-write "What Goes On."

In addition Ringo contributed a number of lyrical ideas and song titles to Lennon and McCartney, although usually unintentionally. One of the most famous examples of this was the title for the band's first motion picture, A Hard Day's Night. Starr had emerged from the studio after a long day of work and commented to the others that it had been a "hard day's..." - before he finished his sentence, Starr noticed that it was now night time and added "night". Lennon and McCartney liked the twisted phrase enough that they decided to use it as the title for the still untitled movie the band had been filming. Another example is the title to "Tomorrow Never Knows."

After the Beatles

After the breakup of the Beatles on 10 April 1970, Starr scored hit singles with "It Don't Come Easy" and "Back Off Boogaloo", and participated in Harrison's, Concert for Bangladesh.

In 1973 the "Ringo" album came out, lushly produced by Richard Perry and with participation by all three former bandmates on different tracks. It was a major triumph and Starr unexpectedly became the most commercially successful ex-Beatle at that time. The Goodnight Vienna album followed the next year and was also successful. Hits and notable tracks from these two collections included "Photograph" (co-written by Harrison), "You're Sixteen", "I'm the Greatest" (written by Lennon), "Only You", and the "No No Song".

Starr's recording career subsequently diminished in impact, although he continued to sporadically release albums. Beginning in 1989 he became a visible presence on the summer touring scene, organizing a series of concert tours called Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, teaming with well-known musicians from various different rock eras. The format of the concerts has Ringo singing a couple of his Beatles or solo songs, then each of the other musicians taking a turn to sing one of their songs with Ringo behind the drums, then Ringo singing a couple more, then another go around, and so on. In this way Ringo is relieved from having to carry the full burden of the show and the audience gets to hear a variety of music. The eighth such All-Starr Band tour took place in 2003.

Other than the films Ringo did with the Beatles, (A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help (1965), Magical Mystery Tour (1967), Yellow Submarine (1968), Let It Be (1970)), he has acted in several films such as, Candy (1968), The Magic Christian (1969) (alongside Peter Sellers), Son of Dracula (1974) and Caveman (1980). He starred as Larry the dwarf in Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (1971). His voice is featured in Harry Nilsson's animated film The Point! (1971). He was especially well-received in the British film That'll Be the Day (1973) where he co-starred as a Teddy boy.

In 1984, he narrated on the children's television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and portrayed the character Mr. Conductor on that program's American spinoff Shining Time Station, which debuted in 1989. In 1991, he appeared as himself on the cartoon The Simpsons.

In January of 2005, it was announced that comic book creator Stan Lee would be working with Starr to produce a new animated musical superhero based on Starr.


For a detailed discography, see: Ringo Starr discography


See also

External links


  John Lennon Missing image
Paul McCartney

The Beatles George Harrison Ringo Starr  

History of the Beatles | Long-term influence | British Invasion | Classic rock era | Paul is Dead rumours | Apple Records | George Martin | Geoff Emerick | Brian Epstein | Beatlesque | Discography | Bootlegs | Beatlemania

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