On this day in 1940, Richard Starkey Jr., known to the world as Ringo
born in Dingle, Liverpool, England. He was a sickly child, raised by
mother and stepfather in a poor neighborhood. His first job was for
Railways, but he soon began drumming with the popular beat group
Rory Storm & the Hurricanes.
When the Beatles decided to fire original drummer Pete
Best, they selected Starr, who they had known and respected, as his
replacement. Although his drum part wasn't used on the Beatles'
recording of "Love Me Do," Starr was with the band throughout its
the most popular and influential rock group in history.
Starr provided the
easygoing charm in Beatles films such as "A Hard Day's Night" and
drumming that the band depended on for all of its classic albums.
bulk of the Beatles repertoire was written by the legendary
of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Starr sang a few of their tunes,
1967's "With A Little Help From My Friends," and wrote a few catchy
such as 1968's "Don't Pass Me By" and 1969's "Octopus's Garden," by
But when the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Starr wasn't as prepared as
Beatle George Harrison -- who had written more extensively and
other musicians, including Indian instrumentalists -- to chart a solo
course. Starr recorded an album of early pop standards, 1970's
Sentimental Journey, and a platter of country tunes, that same
Beaucoups of Blues. Both amounted to nothing more than
experiments. He then had two top-10 hits, 1971's "It Don't Come
1972's "Back Off Boogaloo," which added to his confidence as a solo
What followed was the 1973 Ringo album. Produced by
pop/rock veteran Richard Perry, the disc featured a number of
catchy tunes, several written by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, as
well as a few composed by Starr himself. Starr was a big pop star
that year with three top-10 hits from the
album, the #1 "Photograph," the #1 "You're Sixteen" and the #5 "Oh
My My." The 1974 album Goodnight Vienna, which included
more help from the ex-Beatles and a song composed by Elton John
and Bernie Taupin, was a hit, too, spawning the popular singles "Only
You" and "No No Song."
But this superstardom was
short-lived for the solo Starr. His good-natured, novelty-ish songs
to wear thin, though he continued releasing albums until 1981. He
starred in a few films, including "Caveman" with his second wife,
Barbara Bach. After entering alcohol rehabilitation in the '80s, Starr
resurfaced with his "All-Star Band," a touring troupe that at various
times included Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh and the Rascal's Felix
among others. They played Starr's songs as well as their own. In the
mid-'80s, Starr also provided narration to the popular British TV
series "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" and appeared in ads for
products as wine coolers.
In the '90s, Starr attempted to resuscitate his
recording career with Time Takes Time, a 1992 album that
much of a splash. A higher profile accompanied this year's release of
Vertical Man, Starr's first album for Mercury Records. The
includes appearances by McCartney and Harrison. Starr and his band
begin touring in August.
Lennon once told Playboy magazine: "Ringo was a
star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met. Ringo was a
professional drummer who sang and performed and was in one of
the top groups in Britain ... So Ringo's talent would have come out one
way or the other. I don't know what he would have ended up as --
whatever that spark is in
Ringo, we all know it but we can't put our finger on it. Whether it's
acting, drumming or professional singing, I don't know. There's
in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced as an
Other birthdays: Warren Entner (the Grass Roots), 54; Jim Rodford
(Kinks/Argent), 53; David Hodo (Village People), 51; and Larry
"Rhino" Reinhardt (Iron Butterfly), 50.