The second and best drummer of The Fab Four, Richard Starkey,better known as "Ringo", became the best known drum player in the history of Rock. He and his 3 friends changed the world of music.
Richard Starkey was born in a small two-story terraced house in the Dingle area of Liverpool on July 7, 1940, making him the oldest Beatle, three months older than John. His father, who's name was also Richard, was originally a Liverpool dock worker, and later worked in a bakery where he met Ringo's mother Elsie. His parents broke up in 1943, Ringo was only 3, and Elsie later married Harry Graves, who little Richie called his "step ladder". Although remaining cheerful throughout his childhood, it was filled with hospital time and care, for appendicitis at 6, at which time he went into a coma for two months, and a cold which developed into pleurisy when he was only 13, causing him to miss much school. By fifteen he could just barely read and write.
Like the other Beatles, young Ritchie also eventually became caught up in Liverpool's Skiffle craze. After starting his own group called The Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957, he joined The Raving Texans in 1959, a quartet which played while Rory Storm sang. During this time, he got the nickname Ringo, because of the rings he wore, and because it sounded "cowboyish", and the last name Starr so that his drum solos could be billed as "Star Time". Ringo first met the Beatles in Hamburg in October 1960 while performing. Ringo joined the Beatles on August 18, 1962. Rory Storm was magnanimous about the theft of his drummer, but Pete Best fans were upset, holding vigils outside Pete's house and rioting at the Cavern Club, shouting "Pete Best forever! Ringo Never! His health would cause him problems later; he missed three quarters of the 1964 tour of Scandinavia, Holland, the Far East and Australia, to have his tonsils out.
When the Beatles hit America in 1964, Ringo was undoubtedly the favorite Beatle. His picture usually outsold the other's pictures at their concerts and Ringo usually received three times as much fan mail as the others. Probably his name and unusual appearance had something to do with this popularity, being the most easily identified Beatle. After the Beatles quit touring in 1966, Ringo opted to stay at home as the family man he had become, enjoying the state-of-the-art house he had never even imagined owning when he still lived in the Dingle. Ringo and his wife Maureen eventually had three children, Zak, Jason and Lee. Because of Ringo's ease in front of the camera, he began to get involved with the other roles outside of the Beatles. Unfortunately, his choice of scripts weren't always the best. Ringo was the first Beatle to temporarily quit the band in 1968 when he finally got fed up with the infighting and with being ignored by the others. He was lured back by the others who draped his drumkit in flowers to welcome him. When the Beatles broke up in 1970, Ringo had the least idea of what direction to go in. He couldn't just join another band because he was so much more famous that any band he could join. Creatively, Ringo had been mostly in the background as a Beatle, but Ringo surprised everyone by emerging as a successful solo artist in the early 1970s. His 1973 hit album Ringo featured all four former Beatles.
Rough times were ahead through. Ringo and Maureen divorced in the mid-1970s, and his career took a nose-dive as he succumbed to alcoholism. In 1981 he married his second wife Barbara Bach, a former actress (and Bond girl), but by 1988, he realized he had serious problem and checked himself and Barbara into a clinic. Overcoming his dependency, Ringo got himself back to work. He rediscovered his first love, drumming, formed a band, Ringo's All-Starrs, and toured with success. He also resumed his recording career. The Beatles' first movie, originally to be called Beatlemania, became to be called A Hard Days Night because it was something Ringo had said one evening after a long and particularly grueling session.
Today, Ringo is a real jet-setter, living in Monaco, California, and Britain. He is also once again very active as a performer. To date he has formed 5 All-Starr Band tours and his album 'Vertical Man' was released June 16, 1998 to critical acclaim. Ringo also became the first Beatle grandfather when his granddaughter, Tatia, was born in 1985. Tatia's father, Zak Starkey, has become a well-known drummer in his own right. It looks like things are looking up for the littlest ex-Beatle.
Biography written by Alan Rodriguez.