Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey at 9 Madryn Street, Dingle, Liverpool, England, the son of Elsie (née Gleave) and Richard Starkey, a confectioner. His paternal grandfather was born with the surname "Parkin", and later adopted his stepfather's surname, "Starkey". Starr's parents split up when he was three years old, and his mother subsequently married Harry Graves, who encouraged his interest in music. Starr attended an Evangelical Anglican church during his childhood. He was afflicted by illness for much of his early years. When aged six, he had appendicitis, which developed complications, causing him to fall into a coma. At thirteen, he developed chronic pleurisy and was admitted to a sanatorium for two years. After this extended hospital visit he did not return to school. The periods of hospitalization left him behind scholastically, and as a result he was ineligible to attend grammar school or even sit its Eleven plus qualifying examination. Earlier, Starr attended St Silas, a Church of England primary school in High Park Street, close to his home in Admiral Grove; singer Billy Fury attended the school at the same time. Later, Starr attended Dingle Vale Secondary Modern School, leaving in 1955. While there, he showed an aptitude for art and drama as well as practical subjects including mechanics. Starr's health problems had another enduring effect in the form of allergies and sensitivities to food, and when The Beatles travelled to India in 1968, he took his own food with him.
Like John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Starr became caught up in Liverpool's skiffle craze. In 1957, he and his friend Eddie Miles formed the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. In 1959, he joined the Raving Texans, now adopting the stage name "Ringo Starr" because of the rings he wore and because it sounded "cowboyish", and his drum solos were billed as "Starr Time". By October 1960, the band was renamed Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and while they were performing in Hamburg, Starr met The Beatles. On 16 October 1960 he drummed in Hamburg with Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, recording with them for the first time to back Hurricanes singer Lu Walters.
After returning to the UK, Starr sat in for Pete Best as The Beatles' drummer on 18 August 1961 and 5 February 1962. The Beatles removed Pete Best as their drummer on 16 August 1962, after Best had played in the early recording sessions at EMI Studios.
Starr's first performance as a full Beatle was on 18 August 1962 at a Horticultural Society dance at Port Sunlight. After his appearance at the Cavern Club performance as a full Beatle the following day, Best's fans were upset at his sacking, holding vigils outside Best's house and fighting at the club, shouting 'Pete forever! Ringo never!'George Harrison received a black eye from one of the fans.
When he arrived at EMI Studios for the second time on 11 September, Starr was shocked to find another drummer there, session drummer Andy White who was commissioned by producer George Martin. Using sessions drummers familiar with studio techniques was a normal procedure for studio recordings in those days. Starr's view at the time was that Andy White was brought in because he thought George Martin viewed him as crazy. Of the 4 September rehearsal session, Starr stated, "He [George Martin] thought I was crazy and couldn't play. Because when we were doing 'Please Please Me', I was actually playing the kit and in one hand I had a tambourine and a maracas in the other, because I was trying to play the percussion and the drums at the same time, because we were just a four piece band". Starr also stated, "I thought, 'That’s the end, they’re doing a Pete Best on me.'"
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Drum Dungeon Bio - RINGO STARR
Richard Starkey, MBE (born 7 July 1940), better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr belonged to another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in 1962, taking over from Pete Best. In addition to his contribution as drummer, Starr featured as lead singer on a number of successful Beatles songs (in particular, "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", and The Beatles version of "Act Naturally"), as co-writer with the song "What Goes On" and primary writer with "Don't Pass Me By", and "Octopus's Garden".
As drummer for The Beatles, Starr was musically creative, and his contribution to the band's music has received high praise from notable drummers in more recent times. Starr described himself as "your basic offbeat drummer with funny fills", technically limited by being a left-handed person playing a right-handed kit. The handicap became a unique aspect of Starr's playing ability and style.
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Drummer Steve Smith said that Starr's popularity "brought forth a new paradigm" where "we started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect" and that Starr "composed unique, stylistic drum parts for The Beatles songs".
Starr is the most documented and critically acclaimed actor-Beatle, playing a central role in several Beatles films, and appearing in numerous other movies, both during and after his career with The Beatles. After The Beatles' break-up in 1970, Starr achieved solo musical success with several singles and albums, and recorded with each of his fellow ex-Beatles as they too developed their post-Beatle musical careers. He has also been featured in a number of TV documentaries, hosted TV shows, and narrated the first two series of the children's television series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. He currently tours with the All-Starr Band around the U.S.
Ringo bustin' a groove with Sheila E at one of his All-Starr band rehearsals.
Paul McCartney joins Ringo on stage for Ringo's 70th birthday 2010
Ringo singing "Act Naturally" LIVE with Beatles
Ringo, backstage rehearsing with his 2010 "All Starr" band
Ringo on being a lefty drummer who learned how to play on a right-handed kit.
Starr generally sang at least one song on each studio album as part of an attempt to establish the vocal personality of all four members. In some cases, Lennon or McCartney wrote the lyrics and melody especially for him, as they did for "Yellow Submarine" from Revolver and "With a Little Help from My Friends" on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. These melodies were tailored to Starr's baritone vocal range. Starr's backing vocals are heard on songs such as "Carry That Weight", and "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill".
The Beatles used Starr's unusual turns of phrase, or "Ringoisms" as they became known, such as "a hard day's night" and "tomorrow never knows", and turned them into songs. Recalling this, McCartney said, "Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical... they were sort of magic...". As well as inspiring his bandmates' creativity in this way, Starr occasionally contributed his own lyrics to unfinished Lennon and McCartney songs, such as the line "darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there" in "Eleanor Rigby". Frustrated at times of being the odd man out in the group in regard to songwriting, Starr commented in The Beatles Anthology that when he presented a song to The Beatles, it would often sound to the other three Beatles like a popular song of the day. Starr did eventually begin composing, and is credited with "Don't Pass Me By" (on The White Album) and "Octopus's Garden" (on Abbey Road) as sole songwriter.
His disgust with the band's tensions and boredom at waiting around to contribute during the sessions for the White Album caused him to quit the group temporarily. He spent two weeks with actor Peter Sellers on the latter's yacht, Amelfis, in Piraeus, where he wrote "Octopus's Garden". He did not return for two weeks, even though the other Beatles urged him to come back: Lennon sent telegrams, and Harrison set up flowers all over the studio for Starr's return saying "Welcome home". Starr's name also appears as a co-writer for the Rubber Soul track "What Goes On" along with Lennon and McCartney, while the songs "Flying" (on the Magical Mystery Tour album) and "Dig It" (on Let It Be) are listed as being written by the entire group. On issued material after the break-up, Starr wrote "Taking a Trip to Carolina" from the second "bonus" CD of Let It Be... Naked, and received joint songwriting credits with the other three Beatles for "12-Bar Original", "Los Paranoias", "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)", "Suzy Parker" (heard in the Let It Be film), "Jessie's Dream" (heard in the Magical Mystery Tour film) and The Beatles' version of "Free as a Bird".
On the 3rd of June 1964, the day before a scheduled tour, Starr collapsed during a photo session for the Saturday Evening Post in Barnes, London. Stricken with a 102-degree fever and tonsillitis, he was rushed to the hospital. During this time, Starr was temporarily replaced for the Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong and Adelaide concert dates by shy 24-year-old session drummer Jimmie Nicol. At first, George Harrison didn't want Starr to be replaced and refused to go on the tour without Starr, but Brian Epstein and George Martin convinced Harrison to begin the tour. Starr was discharged from the hospital on June 11th, and he rejoined the group in Melbourne on June 15th 1964. Ultimately, Starr had his tonsils removed during The Beatles' Christmas vacation period later in the year. Starr would later admit that he feared that he would be permanently replaced during his illness.
While Starr himself has been the first to acknowledge the technical limitations of his drumming for The Beatles, the overall effect of his contribution has received high praise from notable drummers. Starr said, "Whenever I hear another drummer I know I'm no good. I'm no good on the technical things, I'm your basic offbeat drummer with funny fills. The fills were funny because I'm really left-handed playing a right-handed kit. I can't roll around the drums because of that." George Martin's version was, "Ringo hit good and hard and used the tom-tom well, even though he couldn't do a roll to save his life", although Martin later added, "He's got tremendous feel. He always helped us to hit the right tempo for a song, and gave it that support—that rock-solid back-beat—that made the recording of all The Beatles' songs that much easier." Lennon, asked if Starr was the best drummer in the world, jokingly replied, "He's not even the best drummer in The Beatles!", but also said, "Ringo's a damn good drummer. He always was a good drummer. He's not technically good, but I think Ringo's drumming is underrated the same way as Paul's bass playing is underrated." McCartney sent Starr a postcard on 31 January 1969 (the day after the band's performance on the roof of Apple Studios) stating: 'You are the greatest drummer in the world. Really.' This postcard is included in Starr's book Postcards From The Boys.
Drummer Steve Smith extolled Starr's qualities beyond the technical, in terms of his musical contribution as drummer:
“Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity. Ringo's popularity brought forth a new paradigm in how the public saw drummers. We started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect. One of Ringo's great qualities was that he composed unique, stylistic drum parts for The Beatles' songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song.”
Phil Collins, the drummer for Genesis, who was himself influenced by Starr, said:
“Starr is vastly underrated. The drum fills on the song "A Day in the Life" are very complex things. You could take a great drummer today and say, 'I want it like that.' He wouldn't know what to do.”
In September 1980, John Lennon had this to say about Starr:
“Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met. He was a professional drummer who sang and performed and had Ringo Starr-time and he was in one of the top groups in Britain but especially in Liverpool before we even had a drummer. So Ringo's talent would have come out one way or the other as something or other. I don't know what he would have ended up as, but whatever that spark is in Ringo that we all know but can't put our finger on -- whether it is acting, drumming or singing I don't know -- there is something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced with or without The Beatles. Ringo is a damn good drummer.”
Many drummers acknowledge Starr as an influence, including Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes, Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Jen Ledger of Skillet, Orri Páll Dýrason of Sigur Rós, Max Weinberg of the E Street Band, Danny Carey of Tool, Liberty DeVitto of Billy Joel's band, Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, Eric Carr of Kiss, Phil Rudd of AC/DC, the former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Pedro Andreu of Heroes del Silencio and others.
In his extensive survey of The Beatles' recording sessions, Mark Lewisohn confirmed that Starr was both proficient and remarkably reliable and consistent. According to Lewisohn, there were fewer than a dozen occasions in The Beatles' eight-year recording career where session 'breakdowns' were caused by Starr making a mistake, while the vast majority of takes were stopped owing to mistakes by the other three members. Starr is considered to have influenced various modern drumming techniques, such as the matched grip, placing the drums on high risers for visibility as part of the band, tuning the drums lower, and using muffling devices on tonal rings.
Starr drummed on all but five of the band's released tracks that feature drumming. For the band's second recording session with Starr as a member on 11 September 1962, producer George Martin replaced the studio-inexperienced Starr with session drummer Andy White to record takes for what would be the two sides of The Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do" backed with "P.S. I Love You". Starr played tambourine on "Love Me Do" and maracas on "P.S. I Love You" for this session. McCartney took over the drums on "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence" from the White Album (1968) after Starr had walked out, and also played the drums on "The Ballad of John and Yoko", recorded on 14 April 1969, since only he and Lennon were immediately available to record the song. Starr commented that he was lucky in being "surrounded by three frustrated drummers" who could only drum in one style.
After The Beatles break-up, Ringo continued his solo career started while the beatles were still together. Many hit songs, whether collaborative or penned himself, were recorded over his many years in the business. Performing on many songs with friends, and a variety of guests on his own multitude of records, Ringo has kept busy right up till the present.
Ringo also had great success with his "All Starr Band", bringing together top industry names joining him on stage taking turns performing the songs that made them famous. He has toured with his very successful All Starr's in various incarnations for years, even in 2010 not slowing down a bit at age 70, and don't be suprised if you see a new tour in 2011 and beyond.
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."
On January 15, 2008, Starr released Liverpool 8, his first new album with Capitol/EMI since 1974's Goodnight Vienna. Liverpool 8 is available worldwide on CD and digitally, and in the United States, the album is also available as a pre-loaded USB wristband including the entire album, a personal video message from Ringo Starr with behind-the-scenes footage, ringtunes and album art.
Liverpool 8's 12 original tracks were all co-written by Starr and were recorded in England and in California. "The writing of the records is always the same," Ringo explains. "It's the same group of guys and we all sit together and write about what's happening." That "group of guys" who joined Starr on the album's songwriting and recording are (in alphabetical order): Gary Burr, Steve Dudas, Mark Hudson, Sean Hurley, Zac Rae, and Dave Stewart.