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Sir Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr infobox image
Born 7 July 1940, Liverpool, England; age 84
Occupation Musician, Singer, Actor
Association with the Beatles Percussionist, also played keyboards and guitar

Sir Richard Starkey MBE (born 7 July 1940), known professionally as Ringo Starr, is an English musician, songwriter and actor who achieved international fame as the drummer for the Beatles. Starr occasionally sang lead vocals with the group, usually for one song on each album, including "Yellow Submarine" and "With a Little Help from My Friends". He also wrote and sang the Beatles songs "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden", and is credited as a co-writer of four others.

Starr was afflicted by life-threatening illnesses during childhood, with periods of prolonged hospitalisation. He briefly held a position with British Rail before securing an apprenticeship as a machinist at a Liverpool school equipment manufacturer. Soon afterwards, Starr became interested in the UK skiffle craze and developed a fervent admiration for the genre. In 1957, he co-founded his first band, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group, which earned several prestigious local bookings before the fad succumbed to American rock and roll around early 1958. When the Beatles formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. After achieving moderate success in the UK and Hamburg, he quit the Hurricanes when he was asked to join the Beatles in August 1962, replacing Pete Best.

In addition to the Beatles' films, Starr has acted in numerous others. After the band's break-up in 1970, he released several successful singles including the US top-ten hit "It Don't Come Easy", and number ones "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen". His most successful UK single was "Back Off Boogaloo", which peaked at number two. He achieved commercial and critical success with his 1973 album Ringo, which was a top-ten release in both the UK and the US. Starr has featured in numerous documentaries, hosted television shows, narrated the first two series of the children's television programme Thomas & Friends and portrayed "Mr. Conductor" during the first season of the PBS children's television series Shining Time Station. Since 1989, he has toured with thirteen variations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

Starr's playing style, which emphasised feel over technical virtuosity, influenced many drummers to reconsider their playing from a compositional perspective. He also influenced various modern drumming techniques, such as the matched grip, tuning the drums lower, and using muffling devices on tonal rings. In his opinion, his finest recorded performance was on the Beatles' "Rain". In 1999, he was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. He was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a Beatle in 1988 and as a solo artist in 2015, and appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to music. In 2020, he was cited as the wealthiest drummer in the world, with a net worth of $350 million.


Early life

Ringo was born n 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 (Gleave) 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."

With The Beatles

The Beatles tried a number of drummers before settling on Ringo. They were so desperate at one point that they even invited strangers from the audience to fill the position. Then came Pete Best, who was not regarded as the best drummer by the other members of the band, and they were eager to replace him with Ringo. With the exception of Pete Best, The Beatles passed Martin's audition on June 6, 1962, at the Abbey Road studios. They were liked by George Martin, although he suggested that they get a new drummer. Epstein sacked Pete Best after being urged by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, and Ringo Starr was added to the band after a mutual decision. 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.

Ringo 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.

Solo career

Upon the Beatles' split, Starr went solo with two novelty projects: the first, an album called Sentimental Journey, found him covering pre-rock standards, and the second, Beaucoups of Blues, was a country music collection. Starrthen scored Top Ten hits with two non-album singles, "It Don't Come Easy" in 1971 and "Back Off Boogaloo" in 1972. He paired with producer Richard Perry one year later and, with assistance from the three other ex-Beatles, made Ringo, which featured two number one hits, "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen." "Oh My My," a Top Ten hit, was also included, and those three singles helped push the album to platinum certification. Almost as successful was the 1974 follow-up Goodnight Vienna, which featured the hits "Only You" and "No No Song."

Starr continued to issue widely released albums through 1981, though with diminishing success. His 1983 effort Old Wave did not find a U.S. distributor. Starr was also suffering from the excesses of his lifestyle, but by the late '80s he had cleaned up his act and put together a new lineup, the "All-Starr Band," which toured in 1989. Featuring a rotating lineup of high-profile musicians -- Joe Walsh, Nils Lofgren, and Levon Helm among them -- the All-Starr Band went on to tour multiple times during the following two decades.

Starr never forgot about his solo career, however, and in 1992 he signed to Private Music and released a new studio album, Time Takes Time. He also made something of a comeback with 1998's Vertical Man -- his first album for Mercury -- which was released after the surprising success of the Beatles' Anthology project. The world had seemingly rediscovered its love for the Beatles, and Vertical Man cracked the charts in Europe and America, making it Ringo's most commercially successful record since the 1970s. A live album culled from his performance on the VH1 Storytellers series was also released in 1998.

Starr's first seasonal effort, I Wanna Be Santa Claus, appeared in 1999. He issued two studio records during the early 2000s: Ringorama in 2003 and Choose Love in 2005, both of them released by the Koch label. In 2006, he made a guest appearance on Jerry Lee Lewis' album Last Man Standing and toured with another edition of his All-Starr Band, this time featuring Sheila E. and Edgar Winter. The 2007 release PBS Soundstage Live featured a show recorded two years earlier in Chicago. Also issued in 2007 was the definitive Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr.

Ringo toured with his tenth All-Starr ensemble in 2008, populating the lineup with past participants (Colin Hay, Billy Squier, Hamish Stuart, and Edgar Winter) and new additions (keyboardist Gary Wright and drummer Gregg Bissonette). A Surround Sound collection of tracks from Ringorama and Choose Love, 5.1: The Surround Sound Collection, appeared in 2008, as did his 14th studio album, Liverpool 8. Two years later, Starr returned with Y Not, whose lead single found him duetting with former bandmate Paul McCartney. Ringo 2012, his 17th solo album, appeared in 2012, and featured guest spots from Charlie Haden, Van Dyke Parks, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dave Stewart, Benmont Tench, Joe Walsh, Don Was, and Edgar Winter, among others.

Three years later came Postcards from Paradise, the first record featuring collaborations with his touring All-Starr Band. Just prior to the album's release, it was announced that Starr would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that year. In July 2017, Starr released "Give More Love," the first single from his 19th studio long-player, also called Give More Love, which appeared in September. In 2018, Ringo was knighted by Prince William for his services to music. A year later, he returned with What's My Name, which featured his cover of John's "Grow Old with Me." He recorded the album in his home studio, Roccabella West in Los Angeles. In celebration of his 80th birthday in July 2020, Starr organised a live-streamed concert featuring appearances by many of his friends and collaborators including McCartney, Walsh, Ben Harper, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Sheila E. and Willie Nelson.

On 16 December 2020, Starr released a song entitled "Here's to the Nights". The video for the song was released on 18 December 2020. The song of peace, love and friendship was written by Diane Warren and features a group of his friends, including McCartney, Joe Walsh, Corinne Bailey Rae, Eric Burdon, Sheryl Crow, Finneas, Dave Grohl, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Jenny Lewis, Steve Lukather, Chris Stapleton and Yola. The song is the lead single from his EP Zoom In, which was recorded at Starr's home studio between April and October 2020 and was released on 19 March 2021 via UMe. The EP also includes the title track "Zoom In, Zoom Out" penned during the pandemic by Jeff Zobar (and featuring The Doors' Robbie Krieger on guitar), "Teach Me to Tango" written and produced by Sam Hollander, "Waiting for the Tide to Turn" co-written by Starr and his engineer Bruce Sugar (with the collaboration of Jamaican musician Tony Chin), and "Not Enough Love in the World" written by Joseph Williams and long time All Starr member Steve Lukather. On 16 March 2021, Ringo stated in an interview with Esquire that it was unlikely that he would record another full-length album, preferring to release EPs instead. On 24 September that year, he released the EP Change the World, a sequel to the previous EP Zoom In.

Film career

Starr has received praise from critics and movie industry professionals regarding his acting; director and producer Walter Shenson called him "a superb actor, an absolute natural". By the mid-1960s, Starr had become a connoisseur of film. In addition to his roles in A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), Magical Mystery Tour (1967) and Let It Be (1970), Starr also acted in Candy (1968), The Magic Christian (1969), Blindman (1971), Son of Dracula (1974) and Caveman (1981). In 1971, he starred as Larry the Dwarf in Frank Zappa's 200 Motels and was featured in Harry Nilsson's animated film The Point! He co-starred in That'll Be the Day (1973) as a Teddy Boy and appeared in The Last Waltz, the Martin Scorsese documentary film about the 1976 farewell concert of the Band.

Starr played the Pope in Ken Russell's Lisztomania (1975), and a fictionalised version of himself in McCartney's Give My Regards to Broad Street in 1984. Starr appeared as himself and a downtrodden alter-ego Ognir Rrats in Ringo (1978), an American-made television comedy film based loosely on The Prince and the Pauper. For the 1979 documentary film on the Who, The Kids Are Alright, Starr appeared in interview segments with fellow drummer Keith Moon.

Drum kits

During his time in The Beatles, Ringo played six different drum kits.

  1. Premier Mahogany Duroplastic drum kit, the one Ringo used during The Beatles' first recording sessions. It contained a 8" x 12" Tom, 16" x 16" Floor Tom, 14" x 20" Bass Drum, 4" x 14" Snare Drum, and three cymbals.
  2. Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl "Downbeat" drum kit. Ringo's first Ludwig kit was purchased from Drum City in London and was actually delivered to Alpha Television Studios in Aston, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. The Beatles were making their first appearance as headliners on Thank Your Lucky Stars. Ringo last used his Premier kit during the rehearsal of this show and used his new Ludwig kit for the performance. It contained 8 x 12" Tom, 14" x 14" Floor Tom, 14" x 20" Bass Drum, 5.5" x 14" Snare Drum, Chrome Over Brass (COB) rims, and three cymbals.
  3. 2nd Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl drum kit. A 3-piece Ludwig Downbeat (mini) oyster black pearl kit was purchased from Manny's Music Store in Manhattan in NYC just prior to The Beatles' first Ed Sullivan Show performance on February 9, 1964. Ringo brought from England his Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl snare drum, his cymbals and a new Beatles drum head.
  4. Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl "Super Classic" drum kit. This kit was used most widely by Ringo during tours and recording sessions since May 1964. It also shows up in countless photo opp's and promotional movies such as: Hello, Goodbye, I am the Walrus, Hey Jude Revolution and many more. It contained 9" x 13" Tom, 16" x 16" Floor Tom, 14" x 22" Bass Drum, 5.5" x 14" Snare Drum, and two cymbals.
  5. 2nd Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl drrum kit. Acquired just prior to August 13, 1965, right before the US tour, it appears to be used only in that tour.
  6. Ludwig Maple "Hollywood" drum kit. Manufactured in 1967 and purchased in late 1968, this kit was used on Let It Be and Abbey Road. Ringo also used this kit when he performed with George Harrison at the Concert For Bangladesh, for B.B. King Live in London and for recording of Choose Love album. It contained 8" x 12" Tom, 9" x 13" Tom, 16" x 16" Floor Tom, 14" x 22" Bass Drum, 5.5" x 14" Snare Drum, and four cymbals. It also had Chrome Over Brass (COB) rims.

Every song Ringo Starr wrote for The Beatles

Starr wrote four joint compositions with The Beatles, including the instrumental ‘Dig It’ and the band’s adaptation of the traditional ‘Maggie Mae’. He wrote two songs independently.

Solo compositions:

  • ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ – The Beatles
  • ‘Octopus’s Garden’ – Abbey Road

Joint compositions:

  • ‘What Goes On’ – Rubber Soul ((McCartney/Lennon/Starkey)
  • ‘Flying’ – Magical Mystery Tour (McCartney/Lennon/Harrison/Starkey)
  • ‘Dig It’ – Let It Be (McCartney/Lennon/Harrison/Starkey)
  • ‘Maggie Mae’ – Let It Be (McCartney/Lennon/Harrison/Starkey)


With The Beatles

Solo albums

  • Sentimental Journey (1970)
  • Beaucoups of Blues (1970)
  • Ringo (1973)
  • Goodnight Vienna (1974)
  • Ringo's Rotogravure (1976)
  • Ringo the 4th (1977)
  • Bad Boy (1978)
  • Stop and Smell the Roses (1981)
  • Old Wave (1983)
  • Time Takes Time (1992)
  • Vertical Man (1998)
  • I Wanna Be Santa Claus (1999)
  • Ringo Rama (2003)
  • Choose Love (2005)
  • Liverpool 8 (2008)
  • Y Not (2010)
  • Ringo 2012 (2012)
  • Postcards from Paradise (2015)
  • Give More Love (2017)
  • What's My Name (2019)


External links