About Maureen Starkey (Cox)
She was the first wife of The Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr. They married in 1965 and divorced in 1975. The couple had three children, Zak, Jason and Lee.
Born as Mary Cox in Liverpool, the only child of Joseph Cox, a ship steward, and Florence Barrett, Mary left school at 16 and changed her name to Maureen when she began her career as a trainee hairdresser in Liverpool. She was also known as "Mo" to her friends.
Starkey became a regular at the Cavern Club, where The Beatles often played. She developed a crush on the new drummer and got his autograph, but it was not until three weeks later that Ringo took any notice of her. Once he did, they went out regularly together on his days off. Beatles performances were sometimes violent, with fans vying for the band members' attention, and Starkey was threatened when some of the fans figured out that she was dating Ringo: she was viciously scratched on the face by a fan on 14 February 1963 as she was waiting in Ringo's car outside the Locarno where the Beatles played that night. In September 1963, Cox , with her parents' permission, holidayed in Greece with Ringo, Paul and Jane Asher, their last peaceful and anonymous vacation before the Beatles' fame made privacy impossible. In January 1965, Ringo proposed marriage to Cox at the Ad Lib Club in London.
Marriage to Ringo:
The eighteen-year-old Cox married Ringo Starr on 11 February 1965. Their first child, Zak Starkey, was born on 13 September 1965. They had two more children, Jason on 19 August 1967 and Lee on 11 November 1970. During this time, Maureen was very much a part of Ringo's life, and they did everything together. She sang backup vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and was, along with Yoko Ono, in attendance at the rooftop concert in 1969 (Paul can be heard saying "Thanks, Mo," in reference to Maureen's audible cheering after the final performance of "Get Back".)
The very first song in the Beatles' Apple Records catalogue was a special private recording sung by Frank Sinatra as a favour to Ringo Starr as a 22nd birthday gift for Maureen in 1968. Sammy Cahn rewrote Lorenz Hart's lyrics to "The Lady Is a Tramp" and personalised them about Maureen (who was a great Sinatra fan). Sinatra recorded the song in Los Angeles, and only a few copies were pressed before the master tape was destroyed. Ringo surprised Maureen with the one-of-a-kind single on 4 August 1968. Any surviving copies of the disc would be counted among the most priceless artifacts of Beatles/Sinatra memorabilia. A poor quality copy of the song began circulating in collector circles. It is now available on several bootleg albums. In a 2005 interview with Andre Gardner on WMGK Radio in Philadelphia, former Beatles business manager Peter Brown described extensively his role in getting Sinatra to do the record. Cahn plays piano while Sinatra sings the reworked lyrics. They are the only two performers on the song.
Despite all of the marriage problems the couple faced, such as Maureen's affairs, which is mentioned in Pattie Boyd's biography Wonderful Tonight, Maureen Starkey did not want a divorce. Her husband, however, simply wanted out. Maureen eventually accepted. On 17 July 1975, the divorce was finalised on the grounds of Ringo's affair with an American model, Nancy Lee Andrews.
Maureen gradually created a new life for herself and the children, but the Starkeys remained a family unit. A friend commented: "Ringo never lost that place in his heart for Maureen. He'd only lost that person that fell in love with her". On the third anniversary of their divorce in 1978 Ringo and Maureen with their children attended a party together setting off press speculation that they were reconciling. Maureen married Isaac Tigrett, of Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues fame, on 27 May 1989 in Monaco. They had one daughter together: Augusta King Tigrett, born 4 January 1987 in Dallas, Texas.
Maureen Tigrett died of complications from treatment for leukemia, aged 48, on 30 December 1994 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. She had recently received bone marrow from her son Zak. Her four children, mother Flo, husband Isaac Tigrett and ex-husband Ringo were all at her bedside when she died. Ringo was devastated by her death and a friend commented to the press: "She took a part of Ringo with her when she died last week. There was so much of Ringo that he had lost over the years which only Maureen held in her heart". Paul McCartney wrote the song "Little Willow", which appears on his 1997 album Flaming Pie, in her memory, and he dedicated it to her children.
Maureen Cox's Timeline
August 4, 1946
February 11, 1965
July 17, 1975
May 27, 1989
December 30, 1994
Seattle, WA, USA