Rock Through the Ages: Ringo Starr 1940-

"So this is America. They must be out of their minds". -Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr in an Octopus Garden playing the drumsRingo Starr, is an English musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Starr mainly served as a drummer for The Beatles, but also achieved success as a songwriter with the group. Ringo Starr's music, as a solo artist and as a Beatle, is permeated with his personality. His warmth and humor, and his exceptional musicianship have given us songs we all know and love, including "With A Little Help From My Friends," "Don't Pass Me By," "Octopus' Garden," "Photograph," "It Don't Come Easy," "Back Off Boogaloo," "You're Sixteen (You're Beautiful And You're mine)," "Don't Go Where the Road Don't Go," "The No No Song," and "Never Without You." Since beginning his career with The Beatles in the 1960s, Ringo Starr has been one of the world's brightest musical luminaries. Ringo Starr has enjoyed a successful and dynamic solo career as a singer, songwriter and drummer, an active musical collaborator, and as an actor. Drawing inspiration from classic blues, soul, country, honky-tonk and rock 'n' roll, Ringo continues to play an important role in modern music with his solo recording and touring.

Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, on July 7, 1940. Named after his father, Ritchie, as he was called, was the only child of Richard Starkey and Elsie Gleave. The family resided at 9 Madryn Street, in a poor and rough working class section of Liverpool known as the Dingle until his parents divorced when Starr was only three. Ritchie's early life was filled with health problems. By the age of 13 Starr had already suffered from acute appendicitis and pleurisy. He had spent years in and out of the hospital and his extended illness had left him severly behind in school. At the age of 15 Ringo left school for good and went out to search for a job. "When I was thirteen, I only wanted to be a drummer," remembers Starr. His stepfather bought him a new drum kit and Richard promised to be the best musician, ever. Four years later at age seventeen, he joined the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Band.

Drummer Ringo Starr from the Beatles has a hard days nightIn 1959, Ringo Starr hooked up with the Raving Texans, which later became Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Storm encouraged Richard to enhance his career by legally changing his name to Ringo Starr. The Hurricanes became popular in England and topped the bill at one of Liverpool's clubs, where The Beatles were also playing. The Beatles and The Hurricanes shared the grueling dusk till dawn schedule and despite the fact that the Hurricanes were paid  more money, the two groups became friends. Ringo got on well with all the Beatles, especially George Harrison, and would often stay around during the Hurricane's off periods listening to the Beatles. During this stint in Hamburg Ringo joined Lou Walters, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison  where the joint members of the Hurricanes/Beatles backed Lou Walter's renditions of "Summertime." Ringo Starr first played with the Beatles in 1960 in Germany while he was still touring with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The Beatles had changed drummers several times, often alternating between Ringo and Pete Best, along with using other drummers. At one point they were so desperate, that they even invited strangers from the audience to fill the position. Ringo's group was now playing second-fiddle to The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers and Ringo was looking to make a change. While playing in Skegness with the Hurricanes, Ringo received two promising offers of employment, one from King Size Taylor and the Dominos and the other from The Beatles. Ringo eagerly threw in his lot with the Beatles playing with them for the first time as their official drummer on August 18, 1962, a mere eighteen days before their scheduled recording session for EMI at Abbey Road. His easygoing personality made him an easy fit with the other Beatles. Ringo Starr's style of drumming played a key role in the way the Beatles music developed, and helped redefine the role of the drummer in rock music.

On February 11, 1965, Ringo Starr married his Liverpool sweetheart, Maureen Cox. They had met back in the Cavern days when she had been a student hairdresser. Their love endured the manifestations of Beatlemania, his move to London, the seemingly endless rounds of tours, and the fact that their romance had to be kept secret from the fans. Ringo Starr had three children with Maureen, they eventually divorced and in 1981 he married Barbara Bach. His son, Zak Starkey, is also a highly respected and prolific drummer, who until August 2008 was a semi-official member and drummer in Oasis, one of the many bands influenced by The Beatles. Ringo Starr arranged for Zak to receive drumming instruction from Zak's idol, The Who's late drummer Keith Moon, who was Zak's godfather and a close friend of Starr's.

Ringo Starr generally sang at least one song on each of the Beatle's albums. Often times John Lennon or Paul McCartney would write the lyrics and melody especially for him. 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. Starr helped contribute a number of lyric ideas and song titles to the group. 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". Although some have tried to downplay his contributions to the band, Starr's unique drumming style played a major role in the overall sound of The Beatles. To this day, many drummers list Starr as a major influence. According to Phil Collins, Ringo is vastly underrated. The drum fills on "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." Lennon, McCartney and Harrison have all said that Ringo Starr was the best rock and roll drummer in the world. Ringo Starr wanted to be a professional actor, more so than the other Beatles. He received great reviews for his performances in A Hard Day's Night and Help!.

Ringo Starr's passion for creating music continued to propel him forward, and in 1971 he began his unprecedented run as the first solo Beatle to score seven consecutive Top 10 singles, starting with the release of "It Don't Come Easy."  His second hit single, "Back Off Boogaloo"/"Blindman" followed in 1972, and was written with and inspired by T Rex frontman Marc Bolan. In 1973, Starr released his self-titled smash hit Ringo, which yielded three Top 10 singles, including the #1 hits "Photograph"/"Down and Out," and "You're Sixteen (You're Beautiful And You're Mine)." Ringo also marked the first time since the breakup that all of The Beatles participated in the same project, though not at the same time. In November of 2002, Starr performed "Photograph," a composition he wrote with George Harrison, at the Concert for George  held in London, on the first anniversary of Harrison's death. The song includes the lines, "Every time I see your face / it reminds me of the places we used to go / But all I've got is a photograph / and I realize you're not coming back anymore", and brought the crowd to tears. Ringo Starr divides his time between his residences in England, in Switzerland and his home in Los Angeles, California.

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RIngo Starr
Was the drummer for the Beatles coined the phrase "Hard Days Night"