Ringo Starr Biography
- Born: 07-07-1940
- Birth Place: Liverpool, England
Ringo Starr Biography
Ringo Starr, the man who was to become the legendary Beatles' drummer and the narrator for the world's most popular anthropomorphised train, was born Richard Starkey on 7th July 1940 in Liverpool, England.
He was born in the poorer Dingle area of Liverpool to dock worker Richard Starkey and bakery assistant Elsie. His mother and father separated when he was three years old and Starr's mother later re-married a man called Harry Graves, who was a close stepfather to Starr, who cheekily nicked-named the older man his ‘step ladder’.
In the summer of 1947, when Starr was six, he fell ill with an appendicitis, which landed him in hospital. Complications of the appendicitis led to an infection that put him in a coma, keeping him away from school for almost a year and putting him seriously behind in his schoolwork.
Starr was an accident and sickness-prone child. During his hospital stay for the appendicitis, to combat the boredom of a small child, he was given a couple of toys to keep his spirits up: a little red bus and a drum. Starr was very taken with the drum, but decided to give his bus to the boy in the bed next to him as a gift. Unfortunately as he leaned out of the bed to do so, he fell and hit his head, knocking himself out.
Being behind in his education, Starr could not read or write very well, so when he returned to school he was put in a class with children much younger than himself. At 13, he caught a cold that turned into pleurisy. It resulted in another trip to hospital and another slide away from literacy. Then, in 1952, he fell ill with tuberculosis.
"In those days, they used to put you in what we liked to call a greenhouse in the country, the countryside. And thank God, someone had invented Streptomycin. And you just sat around for a year getting well… So to keep you entertained, once a week, they'd have like lessons: could be knitting, could be modelling, occasionally, it was music. And they'd bring in tambourines, triangles and little drums."
From that moment, Starr wouldn't play in the band unless he had a drum. Drums became the love of his life. “They became the dream that one day I would have my own set, which happened. And then the other dream was that I would play with other musicians, which came true.”
Like the other three Beatles, Starr became interested with the Liverpool style of music known as skiffle. He started his own group called the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957. In 1959, he moved on to The Raving Texans. But before he was able to make money from his musical talents, Starr worked as a delivery boy for British Rail, behind a bar on a ferry and as a trainee joiner. He got the nickname Ringo around this time because of the numerous rings he wore on his pinky and ring fingers. The surname Starr arrived when he dropped the 'key' from Starkey.
His stepfather bought him a new drum kit and Starr promised to become an amazing musician. He travelled from band to band, but he eventually landed a spot with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes who were a popular band at the time. It was Storm who encouraged Starr to legally changing his name to Ringo Starr.
At this time, The Beatles were on the rise but they had already been through several drummers. At one point they were so desperate that they even invited strangers from the audience to fill the position. Ringo first met the boys in Hamburg in October 1960 while still with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. The Beatles' drummer, Pete Best, was not considered by the other band members to be the greatest musician around, and they were keen to recruit Starr as his replacement. Consequently, the Beatles new A&R manager, George Martin, asked Starr to fill the position. He agreed, but when he played with The Beatles at The Cavern Club, a lot of long-time fans were still disappointed about Best's firing,
Starr became known as the friendly Beatle with a great sense of humour and quotable quotes. The song title ‘Eight Days A Week’ was written after one of Starr's expressions and the band's first movie was called 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964) after a phrase he coined one evening. His inventive drumming also gave the band a distinctive sound and his down-to-earth manner made him a levelling band mate.
Starr has been married twice, first to Maureen Cox on 11th February, 1965. The pair had three children, Zak, Jason, and Lee, but divorced in 1975. Zak followed in his father's footsteps as a drummer for groups like Oasis and The Who. Starr's later wed Barbara Bach in 1981, to whom he remains happily married.
While John Lennon and Paul McCartney were widely praised for their song writing talents, Starr's contributions were not as readily acknowledged. He was known for his strong drumming talents but he also assisted in the group's creative process and provided some of its emotional stability and good humour. Unlike past drummers, who remained firmly in the background, Starr was seen an equal part of the Fab Four. His influence would later be seen on future generations of drummers.
The Beatles broke up for good in April, 1970 and by the end of the year, Starr has released two solo albums. By 1973 he had become the most commercially successful of the ex-Beatles at that time. He appeared in several feature films, and made TV commercials and voiceovers. He also continued to record and tour, under the banner of the All Starr Band. Some of Starr's hits were ‘Photograph’, ‘Back Off Boogaloo’, ‘You're Sixteen’, and ‘It Don't Come Easy’.
Post-Beatles, his acting talents were explored in such films as '200 Motels' (1971), 'That'll Be the Day' (1973), and 'Son of Dracula' (1974). He also starred in the comedy 'Caveman' (1981) with Bach, whom he married. On television, he starred in two children's series, most famously as the narrator for 'Thomas the Tank Engine' and later 'Shining Time Station'.
When George Harrison died in November 2001, Starr, McCartney and Eric Clapton appeared in concert to raise money for Harrison's legacy in exploration of alternative lifestyles, views and philosophies.
Starr's 2008 solo album, 'Liverpool 8', generated some of the strongest reviews of his studio work since the early 1970s. The album’s title song was a sweetly melancholy reflection on his early life in Liverpool, alluding to his pre-Beatles role as drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and the years that followed in the musical cyclone that was The Beatles.
An original hippy, Starr's trademark motto is 'peace and love'. He had been asked in an interview what he wanted for his birthday and replied "just more peace and love," so on his 68th birthday, celebrated in 2008, he held a peace and love festival - with cup cakes.
Starr is set to perform in his home town of Liverpool, and has announced that he will be playing in the city in June 2011, although it has been suggested he may not be welcomed by all.
The potentially chilly reception is due to comments he made back in 2008 when he appeared on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and said that he missed "nothing" about the town he was born in.
An unnamed source was quoted in the Daily Express as saying: "Obviously Ringo is going to be asked about it before he performs there and he’s keen to set the record straight. It was a joke that got taken out of context and Ringo is going to make it clear publicly that Liverpool remains very special to him."
Starr's home town hit the headlines once again in March 2011, when it was announced that the birthplace of the former Beatle was in danger of being demolished.
While Liverpool City Council were keen to stress that it was high time the houses in Madryn Street were demolished, Beatles fans vehemently disagree.
Joe Anderson, Liverpool City Council, said in an interview with Clickliverpool.com that "the community in that area have been waiting for 11 years to have these houses demolished and believe they have waited long enough".
Meanwhile, Philip Coppell, chairman of the Save Madryn Street campaign, argued that the house is a "priceless tourist resource" and one which "the city would be mad to destroy".