Richard Starkey was born on July 7, 1940 in Liverpool, England. The oldest Beatle (three months older than John) was born in a two-story house in the Dingle area to Richard and Elsie Starkey. His father was a Liverpool dock worker, and his mother worked in a bakery. Ringo's parents met in this bakery, and later married. When little Richie was three years old, his parents broke up. Ringo's mother later married Harry Graves, who Ringo called his "step ladder".
Richard was a happy child despite the various hospital visits that filled much of his life. He entered the hospital for the first time at six years of age for a bout of appendicitis. Ringo became quite bored and even a bit lonely when he was in the hospital, so his parents brought him two toys to keep him entertained. One was a red bus, the other was a small drum...Ringo's first drum! Ringo kept himself well occupied with the drum, but upon noticing the lonely boy in the bed next to him, Ringo decided to give up the pretty red bus. As little Richie leaned out of the bed to give his bus to the other boy, he fell...hitting his head and knocking himself into a coma.
Richard remained in the hospital for around another year, putting him behind in his education. When Ringo finally got out of the hospital, he was seriously behind in his schoolwork. He couldn't read very well, and was put in a class with kids much younger than he was. Ringo became quite unhappy with his schooling situation. At 13, Ringo caught a cold which turned into pleurisy, putting Ringo back into the hospital and further behind in his schoolwork. Ringo also started smoking around this time, probably for something to do. By fifteen he could just barely read and write.
Like the other three Beatles, Ringo became interested with the Liverpool music known as skiffle. Ringo started his own group called the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957. In 1959, Ringo moved on to The Raving Texans, a quartet led by Rory Storm. Ringo became quite a good drummer with the added performance practice, even taking advantage of solos called "Starr Time". Ringo got his nickname here because of the numerous rings he wore on his pinky and ring fingers. The name Starr
was chosen by dropping the "key" from his last name. This gave him the catchy title we know him by today--Ringo Starr.
Rory Storm changed his band name to "The Hurricanes", and they became a big success in Liverpool and Germany. It was in Hamburg in October of 1960 when Ringo first met his fellow Beatles. At the time, Rory Storm's band was much more popular than the "Beetles with an A". Nevertheless, the interest in Ringo Starr led to his joining the band in 1962. Rory Storm was quite unhappy to lose such a great drummer, and Pete Best, the Beatles original drummer, was less than happy to be replaced. Many Pete Best fans rejected Ringo, holding vigils outside Pete's hous and rioting at the Cavern Club. The shout of "Pete Best forever! Ringo, never" were prevalent. Still, there was a wonderful connection between Ringo's drumming style and the music of the Beatles. Ringo's fun-loving attitude was appealing, giving the rest of the Beatles a head-start on their special humour.
Ringo's health would continue to cause problems again later. In 1964 Ringo missed three quarters of the tour of Scandanavia, Holland, the Far East, and Australia, to have his tonsils out. Once this was resolved, the Beatles were underway. Ringo contributed many interesting quotes to the Beatles repertoire, some of which became song titles. "Eight Day's A Week" was written after one of Ringo's expressions. The Beatles' first movie, originally called Beatlemania, was instead called A Hard Day's Night after something Ringo said one evening after a particularly grueling session.
Because he seemed content to sit at the back, Ringo was sometimes considered to be the least important Beatle. He was not one of the main writers, nor was he a strong vocalist. Ringo was only given one song per album, but in my opinion Ringo used this valuable space well. Ringo became an integral part of The Beatles. Not only did his inventive drumming help provide The Beatles distinctive sound, but he fulfilled other very real needs. Ringo was the most down-to-earth member of the Fab Four. Ringo was the friendly Beatle. He recieved more fan mail than any of the others, and he became the mediator in many of the later arguments of the band.
The Beatles benefited from his sensitivity, his sense of humor, and his "peace and love" way of dealing with the world. His modesty and kind heart was as important to the Beatles as John and Paul's musical talents. Ringo always seemed a bit overwhelmed by the success of the Beatles -- as if he were pleasantly surprised by what was happening to him. Ringo really looked upon John, Paul, and George as his three brothers and continues to love them as such today. He gave of himself to them the best that he could with love and without ego. Ringo had his most important dreams come true with the Beatles. The only dream Ringo never fulfilled was to sit in the audience at a Beatles concert.
Ringo has been married twice. First to his long-time girlfriend Maureen Cox. Ringo met Maureen in the Cavern club when he was still with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Ringo and Maureen were married at Caxton Hall in Westminster on February 11, 1965. They had three children, Zak on September 13, 1965, Jason on August 19, 1967, and Lee on November 17, 1970. Ringo and Maureen were divorced in 1975, and sadly Maureen died Decmber 30, 1994 of Leukemia despite a bone marrow transplant from her son Zak. Ringo married Barbara Bach, whom he met on the set of Caveman in 1983. They are still happily married today.
Ringo not only had a successful musical career with the Beatles, but also on his solo efforts and with his All-Starr Band. Ringo has had many great solo hits such as "Photograph", "Back Off Boogaloo", "You're Sixteen", and "It Don't Come Easy". Ringo has worked with many famous and wonderful artists such as Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Peter Frampton, Steven Tyler, Tom Petty, and even Ozzy Osbourne.