Childhood & Early Life
Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940, in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, to Elsie Gleave and Richard Starkey. By the time he turned four, the family had moved to another neighborhood. His parents separated and got divorced in a year
Following his parents’ divorce, his mother took up a number of jobs to make ends meet. Tragedy struck when young Starkey, aged six, developed appendicitis and slipped into a coma for three days. He recovered completely only after a year.
After his discharge from the hospital in 1948, his mother did not allow him to go to school. Till the age of eight, Starkey was unschooled. As a result, he fared poorly in academics.
In 1953, disaster struck the family once again, when Starkey contracted tuberculosis. Subsequently, he was admitted to an infirmary for nearly two years. In order to stimulate motor activity and enhance quicker recovery, the hospital encouraged the patients to join the hospital band and indulge in music. This was when he began to develop an interest in drumming.
Meanwhile, in 1953, his mother married an ex-Londoner named Harry Graves, who introduced Starkey to soundtracks by Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Shore, and Billy Daniels. When he was discharged from the hospital, he chose not to return to school and preferred to stay at home. He then started listening to music and displayed keen interest to learn it.
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He was briefly employed with the ‘British Rail.’ However, since he was unable to pass the physical examination, he was out of work and was given unemployment benefits.
He then did a number of odd jobs. Sometime around 1956, he worked as an apprentice machinist for an equipment manufacturer. While he worked there, he became friends with Roy Trafford, who was also interested in music.
He began his musical career with a Skiffle band where he was given the nickname ‘Ringo’ because of the number of rings that he wore. He joined Al Caldwell’s Skiffle group ‘Texans’ before joining the band ‘Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.’ By now, he had adopted the stage name ‘Ringo Starr,’ and his drum solos were allocated as ‘Starr Time.’
In 1960, he met the Liverpool band ‘The Beatles’ and joined them two years later, replacing Pete Best. Soon, he was on the path of success with his new band members, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney.
In 1962, Starr had his first professional recording experience with the ‘Beatles.’ They recorded their first single ‘Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You’ and followed it up with ‘Please Please Me’ the next year. With the release of their first album, ‘The Beatles’ created a frenzy which subsequently led to ‘Beatlemania.’
Starr also provided vocals for the song ‘Boys.’ By the early-1960s, the group had already made headlines across the Atlantic. In 1964, they composed music for a comical documentary film titled ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ where Starr had an acting role.
In 1965, Starr was once again given a chance to prove his acting abilities in a film titled ‘Help!’ He also provided vocals for the single ‘Act Naturally.’ He received critical acclaim for his poker-faced one-liners and performance.
After suffering from an illness for a brief period, Starr became more isolated than ever from the group and feared that they might have substituted him. In 1966, for their seventh album ‘Revolver,’ he performed a single titled ‘Yellow Submarine’ as its lead singer.
Following a brief period of creative differences with ‘The Beatles,’ he decided to spend time on other projects, including a film titled ‘The Magic Christian’ in 1969.
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The next year, the ‘Beatles’ split after Paul McCartney’s announcement that he was leaving the group. Starr’s association with one of the greatest groups in musical history also ended with the group’s disbandment.
He began his solo career in 1970, and released his solo album ‘Sentimental Journey.’ The next year, he decided to experiment with country music for the album, ‘Beaucoups of Blues.’
From 1971 to 1974, apart from recording albums, Starr was also involved in other creative pursuits. He appeared in films like ‘200 Motels,’ ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ and ‘Son of Dracula.’ He also produced the documentary ‘Born to Boogie.’
In 1975, he founded his own record label company, ‘Ring O’ Records.’ For the next three years after its formation, the company signed on a number of artists, including Rab Noakes, Graham Bonnet, and David Hentschel.
From 1977 to 1978, his albums ‘Ringo the 4th’ and ‘Bad Boy’ became commercial disasters in the world of music.
In 1981, he starred in the comedy film ‘Caveman,’ alongside Barbara Bach. The same year, he released his eighth solo studio album ‘Stop and Smell the Roses.’
In 1984, he teamed up with Paul McCartney for the musical drama ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street.’ He also hosted the children’s series ‘Thomas & Friends’ for the next two years.
In 1989, ‘Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band’ gave their first performance to a jam-packed audience in Dallas, Texas. The band’s members were all successful artists in their own right.
In 1990, the group released their first official live album ‘Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band’ which was a compilation of all their live performances. The next year, he made a cameo appearance in one of the episodes of the popular TV show ‘The Simpsons.’
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In 1992, he released his studio album ‘Time Takes Time’ which featured guest performances by a number of artists. Two years later, he began working on the ‘Beatles Anthology’ project along with other members of the ‘Beatles.’
‘Free as a Bird,’ one of the singles that Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Starr worked on, released in 1995 after Lennon’s death, and became a huge hit. The following year, another single titled ‘Real Love’ did equally well on the charts and went on to become a big hit.
In 2003, he formed ‘Pumkinhead Records’ with his ‘All-Starr’ band member, Mark Hudson. Three years later, he was featured on Jerry Lee Lewis’ duet album ‘Last Man Standing’ where he performed a cover of ‘Sweet Little Sixteen.’
In 2008, Starr released another solo album titled ‘Liverpool 8.’ Two years later, he released another studio album titled ‘Y Not.’ The same year, he became part of the ‘Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief.’
In 2012, he released the album ‘Ringo 2012.’ The same year, the ‘All-Starr’ band announced that they would be touring the Pacific Rim the next year.
Starr joined McCartney for a performance at the 56th ‘Annual Grammy Awards’ in Los Angeles, where they performed the song ‘Queenie Eye’ on January 2014.
His 18th studio album ‘Postcards from Paradise’ was released on 31 March 2015. In 2017, he released his 19th studio album ‘Give More Love.’