Ringo Starr is a British musician, actor, director, writer, and artist best known as the drummer of The Beatles who also coined the title 'A Hard day's Night' for The Beatles' first movie.
He was born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940, in a small two-storey house in the working class area of Liverpool, Merseyside, England. His father, Richard Starkey, was a former dockworker turned baker; his mother, Elsie Starkey, was a bakery worker. His parents divorced when he was three and he and his mother, Elsie, moved to another home in Liverpool. While attending Silas Infants' Schools he suffered from many afflictions that basically ruined his education: he had constant abdominal pains, was once diagnosed with a ruptured appendix that led to an inflamed peritoneum, which also led to one of his first surgeries. Ringo was in a coma, and his recovery took a couple of months, during which more operations were performed, and he was known to be accident-prone. Shortly after he came out of the coma, he was trying to offer a toy bus to another boy in an adjoining bed, but fell and suffered from a concussion. When he finally was able to go back to school, he learned that he was far behind in his studies. At age 13 he caught a cold that turned into chronic pleurisy, causing him another stay at a hospital in Liverpool. A few lung complications followed, which resulted in a treatment in yet another children's hospital, this time until 1955. Meanwhile, Richard's mother Elsie had married Harry Graves, the man who her son referred to as a "step-ladder".
At the age of 15 he could barely read or write, although he had aptitude for practical subjects such as woodwork and mechanics. At that time he dropped out of school and got his first job was as a delivery boy for British Rail. His second job was a barman on a ferry to New Brighton, and his next was as a trainee joiner at Henry Hunt & Sons. Ringo injured his finger on the first day of his new job, and then he decided to become a drummer. His dream came true, when his stepfather bought him a new drum kit, and Richard promised to be the best drummer ever.
In 1957, together with Eddie Miles, he started his own band called 'Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group'. At that time he became known as Ritchie, and eventually became caught in the Liverpool's Skiffle craze. Although he was self-taught, he was a good time-keeper, and developed an original beat with his signature accentuations, due to his left-handed manner of playing on the right-handed drum set. He traveled from band to band, but he eventually landed a spot with "Raving Texans", which was a backing band for Rory Storm, later known as "Rory Storm & The Hurricanes", a popular band at that time Liverpool. Rory Storm encouraged Richard to enhance his career by legally changing his name to Ringo Starr. The Hurricanes topped the bill at one of Liverpool's clubs, where The Beatles also had a gig. Ringo's group was at times sharing popularity with The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers. He wanted to leave The Hurricanes to join another group called "The Seniors."
Before Ringo, The Beatles tried several other drummers. At one point they were so desperate, that they even invited strangers from the audience to fill the position. Then came Pete Best who was not considered by the other band members to be the greatest drummer, and they were keen to recruit Ringo as his replacement. On June 6, 1962, at the Abbey Road studios, The Beatles passed Martin's audition with the exception of Pete Best. George Martin liked them, but recommended the change of a drummer. Being asked by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison; Epstein fired Pete Best. After a mutual decision the band was completed with Ringo Starr. Ringo contributed to their first hit in September of 1962, when The Beatles recorded Love Me Do, which charted in UK, and reached the top of the US singles chart.
Ringo's steady and reliable drumming became essential in their studio sessions, as well as in their numerous and exhausting live performances across the world. Ringo's positive disposition as well as his drumming style played the pivotal role in shaping the famous image and music style of The Beatles as they are now known to the world, under the management of Brian Epstein and music producer George Martin. Ringo filled the position of a drummer for The Beatles in the most critical time of the band's formation. He quickly connected with the other three members of The Beatles, and contributed to their music and creativity with his easy-going personality, light humour, reliable drumming and inventive musicianship. All four members were charismatic and individually talented artists, they sparked each other from the beginning. Eventually they made a much better group effort under the thorough management by Brian Epstein whose coaching helped consolidate their talents and mutual stimulation into beautiful teamwork.
Starr had dreamed of becoming a professional actor since his younger years. He wanted to be in movies probably more so than the other members of The Beatles. In 1964, during the first months of Beatlemania, Ringo coined the phrase 'A Hard Day's Night' which soon became the official title of the Beatles' first movie, in replacement for the working title 'Beatlemania'. Ringo received great reviews for his performance in A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965). At first, Ringo did not have a songwriting career, although he had no problem with his name recognition, however, he had a problem with getting his songs noticed. At that time he got help from his friends; John and Paul wrote a song or two for him to sing on their albums, such as "Boys", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "Honey Don't", and "Yellow Submarine". During his eight-year career with The Beatles, Ringo wrote two original songs: "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus' Garden" for which he also sang the lead vocals. Besides his drumming, Ringo's voice was recorded on many of the most popular Beatle's songs, contributing to their unique sound and tight harmonies.
He had a hectic solo career during the 1970s, after the breakup of The Beatles. However, Ringo eventually emerged as a steady performer, and sustained a very popular solo career, turning out a dozen chart-topping hit songs and eight best-selling albums. He made a famous appearance together with George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, and other popular musicians in the landmark 'Concert for Bangladesh' in 1971. His 1973 solo release "Ringo" was the last album to feature all four living Beatles, although not on the same song. He also appeared in various TV shows, including his own special, Ringo (1978) (TV), and a TV mini-series, Princess Daisy (1983) (TV), with his wife Barbara. In 1984 he did narration for the children's series "Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends" (1984). During the 1980s, after having a long period of troubles with alcohol, Ringo and his wife attended a rehabilitation clinic, and came back to the scene sober. He made the All-Starr Band tour of America and Japan. The tour was so popular that he formed another All-Starr Band lineup in 1992, and began an American and European tour in June of that year. Since then Ringo Starr has been enjoying a continuous career as the leader of the All-Starr Band. In 1994, along with George Harrison and Paul McCartney, the three surviving members of The Beatles, reunited and produced Lennon's previously unknown song 'Free as a Bird'. It was preserved by 'Yoko Ono' on a tape recording made by John Lennon in 1977. The song was re-arranged and re-mixed with the voices of three surviving members, and became an international hit. 'Free as a Bird' was also included in The Beatles Anthology TV documentary which was watched by 420 million people in 1995. Ringo, Paul and George sang their new songs, in addition to mixing their voices and music arrangements to John Lennon demos.
Ringo's old friend and band-mate George Harrison passed away on November 29, 2001, after a long battle against lung cancer. The following year, on the anniversary of Harrison's death, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton appeared in a Concert For George, to raise money for the support of Harrison's legacy in exploration of alternative lifestyles, views and philosophies. Starr also supported charitable organizations with consideration to those who have special needs.
Ringo Starr updated the role of a drummer in popular music, he made drummer an equal partner to the lead musicians, thus changing the whole paradigm in how the public saw drummers. His original performing style evolved from adjusting his natural left-handed manner of playing to the right-handed drum set, and allowing his left hand lead in weaving a pattern tightly intertwined with the music of other players, and adding such enhancements as unusual accents and stops. Ringo's musical originality as well as his inventive drumming patterns, time signatures and accentuations became essential to the sound of The Beatles. His on-stage presence and acting talent as well as his humor and musicianship was the essential part in formation and remarkable career of The Beatles.
He was married to his long-time girlfriend, Maureen Cox, from 1965 - 1975, and they had three children: Zak Starkey, Jason, and Lee. The couple broke up in July of 1975, and he married actress Barbara Bach. Ringo Starr divides his time between his residences in England, in Switzerland and his home in Los Angeles, California.
|Barbara Bach||(27 April 1981 - present)|
|Maureen Starkey||(11 February 1965 - 17 July 1975) (divorced) 3 children|
Has worn sunglasses in and out since the 1980s
Drummer with The Beatles (1962-1970).
Leader of "Ringo Starr's All Starr Band".
Inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame as a member of The Beatles on January 20, 1988.
Is left-handed, though he plays a right-handed drum set and makes unusual accents and stops.
He and the other Beatles were awarded MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours List for their services to music. John Lennon returned his MBE in protest in 1969 for the Vietnam War. Paul McCartney was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1997 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to music.
Though Paul McCartney is the most successful ex-Beatle, Ringo actually had more solo US Top ten hits. (McCartney performed most of his Top Tens with Wings).
Born and grew up in the Dingles section of Liverpool, England. Attended St. Silas School and Dingles Secondary Modern School.
Before becoming an official member of The Beatles in 1962, he played many gigs with them, guesting when Pete Best was not available. Also made one recording with them, backing a singer named Wally, before he joined.
A single of his, "The No-No Song", was a song against drug abuse. But in a darkly ironic note, the song was banned from several radio stations because of the drug references.
Wrote the song "Octopus's Garden" while on vacation. He claims to have got the idea for the song after conversing with a chef about octopi.
Got the last name "Starr" from his birth name, Starkey. He got "Ringo" because he liked to wear rings on all his fingers.
"Ringo Starr" was a natural stage name for a young man who'd grown up loving Western movies (he particularly admired Gene Autry, the "singing cowboy"). Considered moving to Texas, before joining The Beatles.
Bought Tittenhurst Park estate from John Lennon (Lennon's last English home), when John and Yoko Ono decided to move to America; the deal came complete with Ascot Sound Studios, located on the grounds, and home of several albums ("Plastic Ono Band", "Imagine", and "Fly"). He renamed the facility Startling Studios. Judas Priest planned to record their "British Steel" album there, but preferred the acoustics of the house itself (which they had leased).
Got his first set of drums as a present from his stepfather, who brought them back from London. Was able to turn professional with a £25 loan from his grandfather Starkey to make a deposit on a better drum set.
Missed several years of school, because of illness growing up. Learned to read and write with the help of a neighbor girl, who became his babysitter.
Was the only member of The Beatles to willingly accept Yoko Ono in John's life (and consequently theirs); he offered them the use of his London apartment, while John and Cynthia Lennon settled their divorce. Yoko tried to return Ringo's kindness over the years, and years later, when John was murdered, Ringo and future wife Barbara Bach flew to New York, to keep Yoko company.
He is a strict vegetarian, as is former bandmate Paul McCartney.
According to George Harrison, Starr unintentionally inspired a number of songs by his witty off-the-cuff remarks. For example, after a long session on The Beatles first film, he was heard to say, "It's been a hard day's night." That was approved by the studio as the title of the film and subsequently the song, "A Hard Day's Night". John Lennon affirmed this in his 1980 Playboy interview, mentioning that "Ringo-isms" had supplied the titles of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Tomorrow Never Knows".
He is a longtime fan of the comedy troupe Monty Python, and even appeared on an episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969). .
Was the first member of The Beatles to "drop out" of their visit to India in the spring of 1968, to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Despite packing some home comforts (like cans of baked beans), he couldn't handle the spicy cooking the camp offered, and was missing his family.
Played drums on several songs by Paul McCartney on the album "Pipes of Peace".
The Beatles were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame for their outstanding contribution to British music and integral part of British music culture. [11 November 2004]
The first song he had a hand in writing for an album by The Beatles was "What Goes On", from the 1965 "Rubber Soul" album (which he co-wrote with John Lennon and Paul McCartney). He began his own first song "Don't Pass Me By" years earlier, but it did not appear until 1968's "White Album".
Two of his biggest solo hits, "It Don't Come Easy" and "Photograph", featured ex-bandmate George Harrison on guitar and backing vocals.
Stop and Smell the Roses was engineered and mixed by Bruce Robb in association with Bruce Robb Productions.
He and the Beatles were awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
During April 1963 Ringo purchased a slightly used drum kit at "Drum City" a local outlet. In exchange for payment, Brian Epstein agreed to paste the distributor's "dropped T" logo as well as the manufacturer's name, "Ludwig " on the drum. The logo, the "large T" in Beatles, was adopted into their trade mark in 1969.
While recording "Stop and Smell the Roses" at Cherokee Studios, he was joined by two former Beatles and their wives. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, as well as Paul and Linda McCartney came into Cherokee to collaborate with Ringo on the solo album. Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones also collaborated, adding guitar, bass, saxophone, keyboards, and back-up vocals.
First of The Beatles to become a grandfather upon the birth of son Zak's daughter, Tatia Jayne Starkey. 
The 2009 Sunday Times List estimated his net worth at $196 million.
Was originally hired as a Beatle for a salary of £25 a week, with the promise of a full partnership in the band in time. The promise was kept, and after the Beatles began to have hit records, Starr's mother discovered the top of his dresser covered with money (wondering at first if it was all come by honestly), and opened a savings account for him. Nonetheless, Starr's initial £25 salary was never discontinued, and he would pick it up every week from NEMS (Brian Epstein's management company). He used it for pocket money.
Inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2002.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California for his services and contributions to the Recording Industry.
In his time as a Beatle, Starr single-handedly consolidated "Ludwig" as the drum set of choice among popular bands of his era.
Starr mystified many of his contemporaries with his practice of draping light towels over his snare drum in order to deaden the characteristic timbre of his instrument. He famously removed the front skin of his bass drum and stuffed the cavity with cushions to deepen the punch of the bass sound.
Starr cites drummers Jim Keltner and Cozy Cole as major influences on his career as The Beatles' drummer. Starr and Keltner performed as a team at The Concert for Bangladesh (1972), and Keltner played drums on Starr's "Rotogravure" album.
Phil Collins states Ringo as his biggest influence as a drummer and songs such as "That's All" (by Genesis), "Thru' These Walls" and "We Said Hello Goodbye" deliberately copied Ringo's style of drumming.
[about his early drumming years with The Beatles] I started to be an engineer but I banged me thumb on the first day. I became a drummer because it was the only thing I could do. But whenever I hear another drummer I know I'm no good. [John Lennon] taught me the song I sing. I can only play on the off beat because John can't keep up on the rhythm guitar. I'm no good on the technical things but I'm good with all the motions, swinging my head, like. That's because I love to dance but you can't do that on the drums. I figure we're good for another four years. I don't want to invest me money in stocks or anything. I just want to have it and draw 20 or 30 quid a week. The main thing is, I don't ever want to go back to work.
[on meeting Elvis Presley in 1965] The saddest part is that, years and years later, we found out that he tried to have us banished from America, because he was very big with the FBI. That's very sad to me, that he felt so threatened that he thought, like a lot of people, that we were bad for American youth. This is Mr. Hips, the man, and he felt we were a danger. I think that the danger was mainly to him and his career.
I'd like to end up sort of unforgettable.
I don't like talking. It's how I'm built. Some people gab all day and some play it smogo. I don't mind talking or smiling, it's just I don't do it very much. I haven't got a smiling face or a talking mouth.
[on is marriage to Maureen Cox] She's just sort of ordinary, she's from Liverpool. And the genuine fans wrote in saying, you know, "If you are going with her, good luck and I hope you're happy".
I remember the day Zak was born. It was the first time I'd felt totally useless. There was Maureen having our baby. She kept on crying "Help!" and I kept asking "How?"
I've never been able to sit round on my own and play drums, practice in the back room, never been able to. I've always played with other musicians. It's how I play, there's no joy for me in playing on my own, bashing away. I need a bass, a piano, guitar, whatever, and then I can play.
I think the most exciting thing is that you expect people our age to know the music, but actually a lot of kids know the music, and if anything is left, we have left really good music, and that's the important part, not the mop-tops or whatever.
I never studied anything, really. I didn't study the drums. I joined bands and made all the mistakes onstage.
We were the first generation that didn't go into the army. I missed the call up by, like, 10 months, and so we were allowed, as these teenagers, not to be regimented and turn into these musicians.
I'm probably the best rock 'n' roll drummer on earth. I say that now because I used to be embarrassed to speak up for myself.
... [Beatlemania]'s always on. There's nothing we can do about that. What's more interesting to me is that our records are still coming out. And they're the same records and the new generation gets to hear them, and as far as that's concerned, that's the most important thing to me. The music we make, it's still going on.
... it's well-documented, in 1964 that old Bill Ludwig, he presented it to me. I bought these Ludwig drums, and in the shop in England, the guy wanted to take the sign out, but I love everything American, the music and the instruments. So I made him leave the sign on. So I was a running commercial - on Sullivan [The Toast of the Town_], and all that touring of America, it said Ludwig drums.
[on age 70]: As far as I'm concerned, in my head, I'm 24. That's just how it is. The number, yeah, it's high. But I just felt I've got to celebrate it. I'm on my feet and I'm doing what I love to do, and I'm in a profession, as a musician, where we can go on for as long as we can go on. I'm not hiding from it, you know.
Now I've realised to make the music I like there's no real reason to go to a studio. The other day, we were downloading an Echoplex machine and you just download the damn thing! I've been through quite a lot of technology, you know, but... I have two bits of wood in my hand and I hit those buggers and I love it!
My stepdad was great, he taught me about Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, people like that. I learnt all the music I had from Bill Haley in 1954, Frankie Laine and on.
When I started, there was rock, there was pop, there was country. That was about all. And now it's divided into 30 categories. Now I don't know one from the other. (Speaking in 2011)
The '70s wasn't bad. I thought the '80s was all synthesised, even the drums, and there were weird people playing the drums.
We've known Bob (Bob Dylan) since the early '60s and if he's playing LA, I go and see him. It's just one of those things. He is a giant in my mind.
I bought one record once because of the drums, and that was Cozy Cole doing "Topsy". But all the records I bought were for the whole record. It's not like I was searching out drummers and that. Al Jackson was great, of course. It's always been the whole band and the singer that's really excited me.
I had this dream at 13 to play drums, nothing else, play drums. And when I got to play the drums, when I finally got a set when I was nearly 18, I wanted to play with good people and I started playing with the best band at the time, and then the next best band and then the biggest band, the best band of all. That's how it's always worked for me. I just wanna play, I wanna support the band. I love the band mentality. I love playing with other musicians. I'm not the one who can sit in the back room and practise, but if you can play piano and guitar I'll play with you all night. I don't like it as a solo gig, where you're just banging away. That's why I never did drum solos, there's really no need for them.
I don't want to go back anywhere. I want to deal with what's in front of me now to the best of my abilities, and sometimes that's not very good. But a lot of the days it is really great.
I love the modern technology now. I was a little opposed to it -'Oh, in my day, we used to have a donkey turning the wheel, and two guys chewing tape to make it soft.'
[on downloading individual songs] It's a different time, and I'm afraid to say that's what I do. If you made a record, I'd probably pick out tracks that I like and download that. That's just how it is. We have to go with that because it's changed.
Peace and love, peace and love. It's up to you. I'm always doing it.
[on filming _Let It Be_ in 1969]: The police came to stop us, and I was on the roof: 'Come on, drag me off!' It would be so dramatic, and the damn cop wouldn't drag me off!
[in 2012] I've been asked to write an autobiography of myself, but they really only want those eight years. And I say, 'But there are 10 volumes before we get to that, and 20 afterwards.
I was blessed with great timing. The other blessing that makes my drumming individual is that I was born left-handed. But my grandmother turned me into a right-handed person, so I'm ambidextrous. If I throw anything - play cricket or golf - it's done left-handed. But I write and cut with my left hand. I'm a weird handy guy.
The music industry is still musicians playing music. If it has changed in any way, it is that nobody who really cares about music is running the industry. In the '80s, accountants ended up running it, and they still are. The record industry has fallen apart. But we are on to the new age, a digital one.
When we came out we were this big crazy pop band with these weird haircuts - which weren't really that weird. But that is what they said. We got lucky.
Everything government touches turns to crap.
(2001) While he owns property in several countries, he is officially a British citizen residing in Monaco.
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