Richard Starkey, MBE (born July 7, 1940) is best known by his stage name, Ringo Starr, as the drummer for The Beatles from August 16th 1962 (when he replaced Pete Best) until their breakup in 1970. Ringo is known for his reliable, steady drumming and innovative fills. His easygoing personality made him an easy fit with the other Beatles. |
Prior to joining the Beatles, he was the drummer for the Liverpool band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, from 1959 to 1962. His musical talents were primarily confined to drumming, rather than singing or songwriting. Of all the Beatles, he did the least songwriting. The Beatles explained that when he would present a song as a contender for an album cut, the song would (to them) be a clear knockoff of another popular song, but Ringo would not recognize the similarities until they pointed it out. Ringo did, however, write "Octopus's Garden" (on the album Abbey Road) and "Don't Pass Me By" (on The White Album), as well as contributing to several others. Ringo generally sang at least one song on each studio album; in some cases John Lennon or Paul McCartney would write the lyrics and melody especially for him, as Lennon did with "With a Little Help from My Friends", from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. 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 did however contribute a number of lyric ideas and song titles to Lennon and McCartney, although usually unintentionally. 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". Lennon and McCartney liked the twisted phrase enough that they decided to use it as the title for the still untitled movie the band had been filming. Another example is the title to "Tomorrow Never Knows".
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 including Max Weinberg of The E Street Band, Liberty DeVitto of Billy Joel's band, Phil Collins, Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish, and others. According to 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 was the best rock and roll drummer in the world.
In 1972, after the breakup of the Beatles, Starr's solo recording of "Photograph" topped the Billboard charts. He also toured with Ringo Starr's All-Star Band.
He acted in several films such as Candy (1968), The Magic Christian (1969) (alongside Peter Sellers), Son of Dracula (1974), and Caveman (1980). He also worked on the children's television series Shining Time Station, it's Christmas special Shining Time Station: 'Tis A Gift and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. He appeared as himself on the cartoon The Simpsons.
Shining Time Station (1989-1991)
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends (1984-86)
The Cooler (2003)
Goat Boy (1996)
The Beatles Anthology (1995)
The Return of Bruno (1988)
Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)
Princess Daisy (1983)
The Compleat Beatles (1982)
Son of Dracula (1974)
That'll Be The Day (1973)
200 Motels (1971)
Let It Be (1970)
The Magic Christian (1969)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Richard Starkey was born on 7th July, 1940 at 9 Madryn Street deep in the Dingle, Liverpool. From the very beginning he was followed by amazingly strong misfortune. He was born about a month too late, even then they had to use special instruments to get him out. In school his learning was disturbed by following diseases. In the age of six, only after a year of elementary school he was speeded to hospital with busted appendix. His life was saved with surgery operation at the last moment, but he was unconsciousness for several weeks. Named by his father, Ritchie recovered and was again the gleeful himself; he was just about to get back home, when he dropped from his bed showing some toy to somebody. This first absence from school was finally prolonged a full year.
That was the reason he couldn't in the age of eight even read or write. Neighbor girl Mary Maguire did the best she can to help him to catch the others and often sat with him and red newspapers to him.
When Ritchie was 11 his mother started to date with Harry Graves. Graves was born in London but worked as a painter in a one firm from Liverpool. Ritchie liked Harry and so encouraged the union.
So Harry and Elsie got married in 1953, when Ritchie was nearly 13-year-old. He had started Dingle Vale´s school, but was still suffering for those missing classes. Same year he caught a cold and got a bronchitis. He was taken to Heswall's huge children's sanatorium near Wirrall and there he stayed next two years.
When he got home, he was 15 and entitled to end the school. When he went to get his report card, anybody in the Dingle Wale school didn't remember him. He could read and write somehow and caused the months he had spent in hospitals he was very thin and palefaced. Anyway his character was still cheerful.
He got - thanks to his step father Harry Graves - a job from the local Hunt's machine workshop as welder's apprentice.
Also a boy called Eddie Miles worked as trainee at Hunt and also lived near Starkeys on Admiral Grove. At the time the skiffle-craze was starting 1956, Eddie and Ritchie started a band to entertain other apprentices on lunch. Ritchie adopted the role of drummer easily. Harry Graves bought him his first full drum set with 10 pounds.
The Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group performed at the same congregation's happenings as did John Lennon's original Quarry Men. Now Ritchie had a brand-new drum set, for what he had loaned 50 pounds from his grandfather. 'Round the year 1959 the set was his passport into Liverpool's most successful amateur ground The Ravin' Texas later known as The Hurricanes with Rory Storm as vocalist. The name 'Ringo' is from that time caused the many rings he had. 'Starkey' was from the very beginning shorted for that they could call his drum solo as 'Starr Time.'
Ringo met The Beatles first time in Hamburg 1961. The Beatles liked him and his weird but harmless humor and obviously he was a lot better drummer then Pete Best that time. So the plan to get Pete out of the band derives from year 1961, when Ringo joined temporarly The Beatles when they played as Wally's back-up group in the recording house of Hamburg railway station. After Hamburg Ringo had gave up his welder trainee job and was many years unemployed sitting his idle days in Cavern, Jacaranda or in the office of Mersey Beat. Those days Ringo, who had always adored the wild west started to develop the idea about moving to America.
After a short hiring in Tony Sheridan's back-up he joined again into Rory Storm and The Hurricanes and left with them to south Skegness on their every-year gig at Butlin's vacation camp. That while the Beatles decided to take Ringo as their drummer.
By the phone John told him that Beatle-pay was 25 pounds a week. For that Ringo had to comb his hair ahead and cut his beard. His whiskers he was allowed to keep.
Ringo Starr, born Richard Starkey, was the drummer in the Beatles from 1962 to 1970 and thus one of the most famous musicians of the '60s. Though the least prominent member of the quartet, he distinguished himself as an occasional singer of good-natured material and as an actor. Upon the group's split, Starr went solo with two novelty projects: the first, an album called Sentimental Journey, found him covering pre-rock standards, and the second, Beacoups of Blues, was a country music collection.
Starr then scored Top Ten hits with two non-album singles, "It Don't Come Easy" in 1971 and "Back off Boogaloo" in 1972. In 1973 he paired with producer Richard Perry 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. Almost as successful was the 1974 follow-up, Goodnight Vienna, which featured the hits "Only You" and "No No Song."
Starr continued to release albums through 1981, though with diminishing success. His 1983 album 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, and in 1989 he toured with his "All-Starr Band." In 1992, he signed to Private Music and released a new studio album, Time Takes Time. Vertical Man, his first album for Mercury, followed in 1998, as did a disc culled from his performance on the VH1 Storytellers series. Starr's first seasonal effort, I Wanna Be Santa Claus, appeared a year later.
BEATING THE MYTH
Ringo Starr replaced the famously ousted Pete Best as the Beatles' drummer in August 1962, on the eve of the band's dazzling emergence from Liverpool.
A myth has long persisted that because Ringo was the last to join the group, he was just lucky, incidental to the Beatles' sound and success.
Today, the man who put the beat in Beatles is fast approaching 65. He has, according to published reports, undergone three shoulder surgeries this year just to be able to continue playing the drums in that familiar, cross-handed, deceptively simple way of his.
Recently Capitol released the Beatles' first four American albums on compact disc, in mono and stereo. September saw the publication of Ringo's own valentine to his old mates - "Postcards From the Boys" (Chronicle Books), a coffee-table book reproducing the fronts and backs of alternately sweet, silly and sad dispatches he received from his fellow Beatles spanning 1965 to the mid-'90s.
Ringo's book of postcards, paradoxically enough, reinforces the stubborn misconception that his three great claims to fame are named John, Paul and George.
The postcards from his friends might feed the myth - but those early albums he recorded with them don't.
There's one thing about the Beatles that still needs to be said. It can fit on a postcard: Ringo Starr was a musical genius. His drumming revolutionized pop music and was indispensable to the Beatles' artistic alchemy and commercial dominance.
It is a tribute to this legendary performer's self-effacing nature - his unassuming personality and uncanny knack for knowing how much, or how little, was needed to build and release tension in a song - that the world has showered every last superlative on the Beatles' output without ever fully recognizing the contribution of the fourth man, the noncomposer, the novelty vocalist - the comic relief.
The myth holds that the Fab Four could have made it with any passable yahoo planted behind them, simply keeping the beat to those indestructible Lennon-McCartney gems.
Didn't they replace Ringo on "Love Me Do"? Didn't some other guy (Name: Jimmy Nicol) put on the suit and play in Ringo's place for six tour dates in spring 1964? And didn't the girls scream just as loud? And didn't Paul McCartney play drums on "Ballad of John and Yoko"?
All true - and all irrelevant.
Ringo Starr revolutionized pop drumming not once, but twice.
Turn on oldies radio sometime, and give a close listen to the drumming on any top-40 hit from the PBE (pre-Beatles era). There is no comparison. It's a quantum leap from even the best of the lot to the muscularity, crisp, cracking sharpness, boxy backbeat bigness, the exciting, lunging aliveness that Ringo brought to - you name it - any up-tempo tune off those first four American albums.
There are only a handful of PBE hit songs that even approach - forget equal - the innovations Ringo wrought from 1963 to 1965. The drumming on the great '50s hits - seminal records by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and the rest - was rooted in the jazz-swing tradition, from which so many of the era's session drummers hailed.
In the early '60s, there were a few hints of what was to come: the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back," with its interplay of snare drum and handclaps; Nino Tempo and April Stevens' "Deep Purple," with its steady, easy-rocking rhythm; and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' "Walk Like A Man," with its complex, constantly changing rhythms.
But these fade in comparison to the furious machine-gun precision on display in "Please Please Me," the rolling thunder and raining-cymbal attack on "She Loves You," the controlled chaos of "It Won't Be Long" the Latin-hard-rock fusion driving "I Feel Fine."
Simply put: No rock drummer had ever played quite the way Ringo did, with the combined strength of his snapping snare and bass-drum backbeat. He also offered unusual, convention-shattering fare such as the beats on "Ticket To Ride" and "In My Life."
By the time the wave caught up with Ringo - in the form of more technically proficient speed demons such as The Who's Keith Moon and percussive maestros including Led Zeppelin's John Bonham - the happy-go-lucky Beatle was already onto a whole new thing, also without equal in the charting pop music of the day. This was his elegant and highly intuitive exploitation of the tom-toms, not only for "fills" - the little spaces between chord changes where drummers typically show off - but as the continuous stuff of the song itself.
It started on "She Said, She Said," with its slurred, manic fills; grew on "Hello, Goodbye," where the fills began expanding into whole verses (check out what Ringo's playing while Paul sings "Why why why why why why do you SAY goodbye"); and reached its apex on songs such as "Come Together" and "Sun King," where Ringo virtually surfed during verses.
Modern Drummer magazine has recorded that Ringo is responsible for more people taking up the drums than any other musician in history, a fact that speaks as much to Ringo's art - his unique, damnably deceitful, head-swaying illusion of making it look easy - as to his proximity to John and Paul.
How many other artists - public figures of any stripe - can take a glance behind them and see so much created in their image?
Let's look back at some of Ringo's non-musical pursuits, from film actor to filmmaker, restaurateur to artiste:
1972: After dabbling in front of the camera a few times -- in the Beatles films, in "The Magic Christian" with Peter Sellers, in Frank Zappa's "200 Motels" -- Ringo stepped behind it to direct "Born to Boogie," a marathon concert film about pioneering glam rock band T. Rex. The film was painstakingly restored for a DVD release earlier this month, including a nifty studio scene featuring Ringo, T. Rex's Marc Bolan and Elton John jamming on "Tutti Frutti."
1974: John Lennon's fabled "lost weekend" was in full swing, and lots of celebs went along for the wild ride, including Ringo and buddy Harry Nilsson. Ringo joined Nilsson for the latter's "Pussy Cats" record, then the two made a wacky documentary about their legendary carousing titled "Harry and Ringo's Night Out." It was never released.
1975: Ringo appeared as the pope in Ken Russell's film "Lisztomania," in which the character of the great classical pianist Liszt (played by Roger Daltrey) actually says, "Piss off, Brahms!"
1977: In his first dabbling in children's entertainment (if you don't count "Yellow Submarine" and "Octopus's Garden"), Ringo provided the voice for Scouse the Mouse for an animated special and an album of the same name.
1978: Ringo played a European movie director in Mae West's final film, "Sextette" (with a wild cast including everyone from Timothy Dalton and Tony Curtis to Alice Cooper and Regis Philbin). He also appeared in Martin Scorsese's concert documentary about the Band, "The Last Waltz."
1981: Ringo starred in the primitive comedy "Caveman," on the set of which he met his future wife, Barbara Bach. Meanwhile, Ringo became part owner of a cable TV company in Liverpool.
1983: Ringo hosted a 26-part weekly radio show called "Ringo's Yellow Submarine," a series about Beatles music.
1984: All aboard! Ringo narrated the animated series "Thomas the Tank Engine" for Britain's ITV. The series lasted until 1991. Later in the year, Ringo hosted "Saturday Night Live," the only Beatle to do so. One of the skits featured fans snapping up Beatles memorabilia at an auction -- $45,000 for a Lennon guitar pick, $110,000 for a Paul McCartney toothbrush, $800 for Ringo himself.
1985: A star-studded TV adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" found Ringo playing the Mock Turtle.
1987: Ringo appeared at the opening of the Brasserie, a restaurant in Atlanta in which he had co-ownership, and joined an impromptu jam session with Isaac Hayes, Jermaine Jackson and Jerry Lee Lewis. Also that year, at the height of his alcohol dependency (later successfully treated), he appeared in a series of ads for Sun Country Classic Wine Coolers.
1989: Ringo played the part of the tiny Mr. Conductor in the children's TV series "Shining Time Station," for which he was nominated for an Emmy.
1995: Swipe it! Ringo created a painting for the Private Issue credit card, the company that sponsored his summer tour. The painting itself brought $33,000 when it was auctioned to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That year, Ringo also designed a line of drumsticks for the ProMark signature series.
2005: On Sunday, Ringo, 64 (still needed, still fed), opened an exhibition of his computer art at Pop International Galleries in Manhattan. The show features 14 different images, all signed. Starr said he started doing computer art to keep him occupied while he was on the road touring.
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