About Richard Starkey
Better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, the English musician, singer-songwriter, and actor 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") and as songwriter with the songs "Don't Pass Me By", "What Goes On" 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. 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 children's television series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. He currently tours with the All-Starr Band, making stops in such cities as New York and Boston, MA.
Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey at 9 Madryn Street, Toxteth, 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.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 traveled 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 by 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.' "
Starr married Maureen Cox in February 1965, and they had three children Zak (b. 13 September 1965), Jason (b. 19 August 1967), and Lee (b. 17 November 1970); the couple divorced in 1975, and Cox died in 1994. In 1980, on the set of the film Caveman, he met actress Barbara Bach, who played the role of Major Anya Amasova (female lead and main 'Bond girl') in The Spy Who Loved Me. They were married on 27 April 1981, just a few weeks after the release of Caveman. Starr resides in Los Angeles and also maintains homes in Cranleigh, Surrey and Monte Carlo.
His son, Zak, is a prolific drummer, who until August 2008 was a semi-official member and drummer in Oasis—one of the many bands influenced by The Beatles. Starr arranged for Zak to receive drumming instruction from Zak's idol, The Who's late drummer Keith Moon, who was Zak's godfather and a close friend of Starr's. Zak also performs with The Who live (such as during the Super Bowl XLIV Halftime show in 2010) and sometimes in the studio. In 1985, Starr was the first of The Beatles to become a grandfather upon the birth of Zak's daughter, Tatia Jayne Starkey. Zak has performed with his father during some All-Starr Band tours.
Like fellow ex-Beatle McCartney, Starr is a vegetarian. Unlike McCartney, who is vegetarian for ethical reasons, Starr is vegetarian because of stomach problems he had in the past. Starr was left-handed until he became ambidextrous when, during his childhood, his grandmother helped him learn to write with his right hand.