A Childhood of Unfortunate Events
Sir Richard Starkey, better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, was born on July 7, 1940 to Richard Starkey and Elsie Gleave. Richard came from a working class background, as his parents made a living as confectioners. Richard’s first childhood home was located in Madryn Street in Dingle, Liverpool. Soon afterwards, the family moved to Admiral Grove Street, another residential area in Dingle, in order to reduce living costs. Richard’s childhood wasn’t the greatest, his parents separated when he was only three years old, and his father was absent for most of his life. If that wasn’t bad enough, Richard’s childhood was marked with illnesses. At the age of just six, Richard’s appendix burst and he needed to undergo surgery. Although, an appendectomy is a routine procedure that has little to no complications, Richard contracted peritonitis during the operation and subsequently fell into a days long coma. He then spent almost a year in hospital recovering. His health problems caused him to fall behind in school, however thanks to home tutoring he almost made up for lost time. Unfortunatly, he then contracted tubercolosis in 1953, forcing him to spend another two years in hospital. It was during his second stay, that he discovered his love for drumming, as he was given a makeshift mallet and was encouraged to join the children’s hospital band. He would not return to school after his second discharge, and would instead stay at home listening to records and drum along with the songs on biscuit tins.
Odd Jobs and Early Bands
After quitting school, Richard took on some odd jobs, before finally becoming a machinist apprentice at a school supplies manufacturing company. He then met another apprentice who was also interested in music, and introduced Starkey to world of skiffle music. Richard’s mother and stepfather did not disapprove of his interest in music, and Harry Graves (his step dad) would even gift him a crude makeshift drum set on Christmas day 1957. It was during this time that Richard joined a number of skiffle bands, before finally joining Rory Storm and the Hurricanes in 1959, an up in coming rock band that was one of the most popular bands in Liverpool at the time. After joining the band, Richard adopted the stage name Ringo Starr in reference to many rings he would often wear while performing.
Hamburg and Meeting the Beatles
In 1960, a number of Liverpool based bands toured in Hamburg, Germany. Among these bands were the Hurricanes, as well as a then little known band called The Beatles. It was during this time when Ringo met with Beatles band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison as well as Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best. Although, Ringo was a member of Rory’s band, he did play with the Beatles a couple of times in Hamburg when their drummer, Pete Best, was unavailable. As a result, the rest of the Beatles became impressed with Ringo’s drumming skills and his impeccable timekeeping. This serendipitous meeting would forever change Ringo Starr’s life.
Joining the Beatles
From 1960 to 1962, the Beatles would start rising in notoriety in Liverpool. It was during this time when they met with their manager, Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, the men who would ultimately help pave the way for the band’s rise to the top of the rock and roll echelon. Moreover, Sutcliffe would eventually leave the band to focus on his artwork, leaving John, Paul, George and Pete as the remaining members. However, the rest of the band members as well as George Martin weren’t pleased with Pete Best’s inadequate drumming skills and wanted him out. As a result, the rest of the band members asked Ringo to join the band as their new drummer, while Epstein was given the task to break the news to Best. Thus, the Beatles became the Fab Four we know today consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Starr would perform with the Beatles for the first time (as a band member) on August 18, 1962. A few weeks later, the band would start recording their first album Please Please Me, which upon release took them from a well known band in Liverpool to the top musical group in the UK.
Throughout 1963, the Beatles became the most popular band in Britain and Europe, as hit singles like Please Please Me and She Loves You became number one hits. Soon afterwards, their popularity would make its way across the pond, as American music lovers starting coming down with Bealtlemania. In 1964, the bands tour of the US and their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show cemented their popularity in America. Each of the four band members became heartthrobs, and each one would get adorning fans. One of the reasons for this was because unlike other rock bands at the time, the Beatles had no front man. Incorporating this philosophy, John and Paul, the primary songwriters of the band, would usually write one song for Ringo to sing on each album. Ringo was the lead singer for a number of Beatles hits such as Boys (a cover song The Shirelles song), I Wanna Be Your Man and Act Naturally (another cover song from Buck Owens).
The Studio Years
In 1966, the band took the decision to stop doing live performances and focus more on studio experimentation. During the following four years, the band arguably created some of its most influential music as it dove into new musical styles such as psychedelic music, orchestral instrumentation and even a precursor to metal. It was during these years when Ringo perfected his skills as a drummer, as songs such as Rain, Tomorrow Never Knows,She Said She Said, A Day in the Life, Helter Skelter, Come Together and The End wouldn’t be the same without his flawless drumming and timekeeping. It was also during these years when his most iconic songs with the band were released, as With a Little Help From My Friends and Yellow Submarine are among the most revered Beatles songs. These years also allowed him to start writing his own songs with Don’t Pass Me By being the first song he wrote for the band, and one year later he would write his iconic Octupus’s Garden for Abbey Road, the Beatles’ last recorded album.
The Beatles’ Breakup and Tough Solo Career Start
In 1970, the most influential band of all time broke up due to increasing tensions among the members. Thus, John, Paul, George and Ringo went their separate ways to pursue their own solo careers. Ringo’s first two albums, Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blues performed modestly on the billboard charts, but Ringo was failing to see the same success of his former band mates. He would eventually find his footing in 1971 when he released two hit singles, It Don’t Come Easy, and Early 1970.
The Closest Semblance to a Beatles Reunion
Fans would have to wait three years for a third Ringo Starr album, but most would agree that the wait was worth it. In 1973, Starr released his third studio album entitled “Ringo”. The album featured collaborations between him and other former members of the Beatles. John Lennon wrote the opening song “I’m the Greatest” to which he sang backing vocals, Paul McCartney and his wife Linda wrote Six O’Clock, he also sang and played in You’re Sixteen, meanwhile George Harrison co-wrote Photograph with Ringo. Although the album had no songs with all four Beatles together, it was essentially the closest thing fans got to a Beatles reunion while John Lennon was still alive. The band reunite between 1995 and 1996 to record two songs for the Beatles Anthology documentary, as a tribute to John Lennon who was murdered fifteen years earlier in 1980.
Peace And Love on His Birthday
What can you get for a man who was part of the greatest show on earth, has had a stellar music career and even has his own knighthood and star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Well since 2008, Ringo has had a tradition of asking fans to chant his personal mantra “Peace and Love” when the clock hits noon on his birthday. This year however, he did something a little more special. On his YouTube channel, Ringo celebrated his 80th birthday with a livestream that featured various artists such as his old band mate Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl. During the stream he also paid tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement and spoke of the influence black artists have had on rock music. Here’s hoping many more birthdays for the world’s greatest drummer.