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Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr MBE (born Richard Starkey; 7 July 1940) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. On most of the band's albums, he sang lead vocals for one song, including "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine" and their cover of "Act Naturally". He also wrote the Beatles' songs "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden", and is credited as a co-writer of others, such as "What Goes On" and "Flying".Starr was twice afflicted by life-threatening illnesses during his childhood, and as a result of prolonged hospitalisations, fell behind scholastically. In 1955, he entered the workforce and briefly held a position with British Rail before securing an apprenticeship at a Liverpool equipment manufacturer. Soon afterwards, he became interested in the UK skiffle craze, developing a fervent admiration for the genre. In 1957, he cofounded his first band, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group, and they earned several prestigious local bookings before the fad succumbed to American rock and roll by early 1958.When the Beatles formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. After achieving moderate success with them in the UK and Hamburg, he quit the Hurricanes and joined the Beatles in August 1962, replacing Pete Best. Starr played key roles in the Beatles' films and appeared in numerous others. After their break-up in 1970, he released several successful singles including the US number four hit "It Don't Come Easy", and the US number ones "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen". In 1972, he released his most successful UK single, "Back Off Boogaloo", which peaked at number two. He achieved commercial and critical success with his 1973 album Ringo, which was a top ten release in both the UK and the US. Although he continued to record and remained a familiar celebrity presence, by 1975 his solo career had diminished in importance. He has been featured in a number of documentaries, hosted television shows, narrated the first two seasons of the children's television series Thomas & Friends and portrayed "Mr Conductor" during the first season of the PBS children's television series Shining Time Station. Since 1989, he has successfully toured with twelve variations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.Starr's creative contribution to music has received praise from drummers such as Phil Collins and Steve Smith, who commented: "Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity. Ringo's popularity brought forth a new paradigm ... we started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect ... His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song." In 2011, Rolling Stone readers named Starr the fifth-greatest drummer of all time.1970sOn 10 April 1970, McCartney publicly announced that he had quit the Beatles. Starr released two albums before the end of that year: Sentimental Journey, a UK number seven hit composed of his renditions of many pre-rock standards that included musical arrangements by Quincy Jones, Maurice Gibb, George Martin and McCartney, and the country-inspired Beaucoups of Blues, engineered by Scotty Moore and featuring renowned Nashville session musician Pete Drake.Starr played drums on Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), Ono's Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970), and on Harrison's albums All Things Must Pass (1970) and Living in the Material World (1973). In 1971, Starr participated in the Concert for Bangladesh, organised by Harrison, and with him co-wrote the hit single "It Don't Come Easy", which reached number four in both the US and the UK. The following year he released his most successful UK hit, "Back Off Boogaloo", which peaked at number two (US number nine). Later that year he made his directorial debut with the T. Rex documentary Born to Boogie. In 1973, he earned two number one hits in the US: "Photograph", a UK number eight hit that was co-written with Harrison, and "You're Sixteen", written by the Sherman Brothers. Starr's third million-selling single and his second US chart-topper, "You're Sixteen" was released in the UK in February 1974 where it peaked at number four in the charts.In November 1973, Starr released Ringo, a commercially successful album produced by Richard Perry that featured writing and musical contributions from Harrison, Lennon and McCartney. The LP yielded the hit song "Oh My My", a US number five that was Starr's fifth consecutive top-ten hit. The album reached number seven in the UK and number two in the US. Goodnight Vienna followed in 1974 and was also successful, reaching number eight in the US and number 30 in the UK. The album earned Starr a pair of top-ten hits with his cover of the Platters' "Only You (And You Alone)", which peaked at number six in the US and number 28 in the UK, and "No No Song", which was a US number three and Starr's seventh consecutive top-ten hit. During this period he became romantically involved with Lynsey de Paul. He played tambourine on a song she wrote and produced for Vera Lynn, "Don't You Remember When", and he inspired another De Paul song, "If I Don't Get You the Next One Will", which she described as being about revenge after he missed a dinner appointment with her because he was asleep in his office.Starr founded the record label Ring O'Records in 1975. The company signed eleven artists and released fifteen singles and five albums between 1975 and 1978, including works by David Hentschel, Graham Bonnet and Rab Noakes. The commercial impact of Starr's recording career subsequently diminished, although he continued to record and remained a familiar celebrity presence. In 1976, Polydor Records released Ringo's Rotogravure, an album that featured compositions by McCartney, Lennon and Harrison. Although the album and its accompanying singles failed to chart in the UK, the LP produced two minor US hits, "A Dose of Rock 'n' Roll" (number 26) and a cover of "Hey! Baby" (number 74), and achieved moderate sales, reaching a chart position of 28. This inspired Polydor to revamp Starr's formula; the results were a curious blend of disco and 1970s pop, Ringo the 4th (1977). The album was a commercial disaster, failing to chart in the UK and peaking at number 162 in the US. In 1978 Starr released Bad Boy; the album reached a disappointing number 129 in the US and failed to chart in the UK.1980sFollowing Lennon's murder in 1980, Harrison modified the lyrics of a song he had originally written for Starr, "All Those Years Ago", as a tribute to their former bandmate. The track, which included vocal contributions from both Paul and Linda McCartney and Starr's original drum part, peaked at number two in the US charts, and number 13 in the UK. In 1981, Starr released Stop and Smell the Roses. The LP contained the Harrison composition "Wrack My Brain", which reached number 38 in the US charts, but failed to chart in the UK. Lennon had offered a pair of songs for use on the album: "Nobody Told Me" and "Life Begins at 40", but following his death, Starr did not feel comfortable recording them. Soon after the murder, Starr and his girlfriend Barbara Bach flew to New York City to be with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono.From 1984 to 1986, Starr narrated the children's series Thomas & Friends, a Britt Allcroft production based on the books by the Reverend W. Awdry. Starr also portrayed the character Mr. Conductor in the programme's American spin-off Shining Time Station, which debuted in 1989 on PBS. He left after the first season. In 1985, he performed with his son Zak as part of Artists United Against Apartheid on the recording, Sun City. In 1987 Starr played drums on the song "When We Was Fab", from Harrison's album Cloud Nine. The song, which was co-written by Harrison and Jeff Lynne, charted in the top 30 in both the UK and the US. The same year, Starr, Harrison and Lynne joined Eric Clapton, Elton John, Phil Collins and Ray Cooper in a performance for the Prince's Trust charity.During October and November 1988, Starr and Bach attended a detox clinic in Tucson, Arizona, each receiving a six-week treatment for alcoholism. On 23 July 1989, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band gave their first performance to an audience of ten thousand in Dallas, Texas. The band consisted of Starr and a varying assortment of musicians who had been successful in their own right with popular songs at different times. The concerts interchanged Starr's singing, including selections of his Beatles and solo songs, with performances of each of the other artists' well-known material, the latter incorporating either Starr or another musician as drummer.1990sThe first All-Starr excursion led to the release of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band (1990), a compilation of live performances from the tour. In the same year, Starr recorded a version of the song "I Call Your Name" for a television special marking the 10th anniversary of John Lennon's death and the 50th anniversary of Lennon's birth. The track, produced by Lynne, features a supergroup composed of Lynne, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh and Jim Keltner.The following year, Starr made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons episode "Brush with Greatness" and contributed an original song, "You Never Know", to the soundtrack of the John Hughes film Curly Sue. In 1992, Starr released his first studio album in nine years, Time Takes Time, which was produced by Phil Ramone, Don Was, Lynne and Peter Asher and featured guest appearances by various stars including Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson. In 1994, Starr began a collaboration with the surviving former Beatles for the Beatles Anthology project. They recorded two new Beatles songs built around solo vocal and piano tapes recorded by Lennon and gave lengthy interviews about the Beatles' career. Released in December 1995, "Free as a Bird" was the first new Beatles single since 1970. In March 1996, they released a second single, "Real Love". Harrison refused to participate in the completion of a third song.Starr guested on two songs from McCartney's 1997 album, Flaming Pie. McCartney had written a song about Starr's ex-wife Maureen, who died in 1994, called "Little Willow" and asked Starr if he would play on another song, "Beautiful Night". The day after the "Beautiful Night" session, the two recorded a jam session, which developed into another song, "Really Love You", notable for being the first official release ever credited to McCartney/Starkey. In 1998, he released two albums on the Mercury label. The studio album Vertical Man marked the beginning of a nine-year partnership with Mark Hudson, who produced the album and, with his band the Roundheads, formed the core of the backing group for the album. In addition, many famous guests joined on various tracks, including Martin, McCartney and, in his final appearance on a Starr album, Harrison. Most of the songs were written by Starr and the band. Joe Walsh and the Roundheads joined Starr for his appearance on VH1 Storytellers, which was released as an album under the same name. During the show, he performed greatest hits and new songs and told anecdotes relating to them.2000sStarr was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2002, joining an elite group including Buddy Rich and William F. Ludwig, Sr. and Jr. On 29 November 2002 (the first anniversary of Harrison's death), Starr performed "Photograph" and a cover of Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't" at the Concert for George held in the Royal Albert Hall, London. In 2003, Starr formed Pumkinhead Records with All-Starr Band member Mark Hudson. The label was not prolific, but their first signing was Liam Lynch, who produced a 2003 LP entitled Fake Songs.Starr served as an honorary Santa Tracker and voice-over personality in 2003 and 2004 during the London stop in Father Christmas's annual Christmas Eve journey, as depicted in the annual NORAD tracks Santa program. According to NORAD officials, he was "a Starr in the east" who helped guide North American Aerospace Defense Command's Santa-tracking tradition.In 2005, Liverpool's City Council announced plans to demolish Starr's birthplace, 9 Madryn Street, stating that it had "no historical significance". The LCC later announced that the building would be taken apart brick by brick and preserved.Starr released Liverpool 8 in 2008, an album produced by Dave Stewart, Mark Hudson and Starr. Hudson was the initial producer of the recordings but was replaced by Stewart after a falling out with Starr. According to the journalist Peter Palmiere, the partnership between Hudson and Starr ended because of Starr's insistence on using synthesised sounds, for which Stewart is known, whereas Hudson wanted real guitars, pianos and strings. On 10 October 2008, Starr posted a video on his website stating that he would not be signing autographs after 20 October 2008. He stated that he is too busy and that anything after that date sent to any address will not be signed.On 4 April 2009, Starr reunited with McCartney at the David Lynch "Change Begins Within" Benefit Concert at Radio City Music Hall. After separate performances from Starr and other artists, McCartney's set came last, and towards the end he announced "Billy Shears", whereupon Starr joined him to perform "With a Little Help from My Friends" and, with all performers, "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Cosmically Conscious".Starr appeared on-stage during Microsoft's June 2009 E3 press conference with Yoko Ono, McCartney and Olivia Harrison to promote The Beatles: Rock Band video game. In November 2009, Starr once again performed the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine for "The Official BBC Children in Need Medley". This is the first number 1 UK hit Starr has been involved in since the Beatles disbanded in 1970 (not counting guest appearances on other singles by other artists).2010sIn 2010 Starr self-produced and released his fifteenth studio album, Y Not, which included the track "Walk with You" and featured a vocal contribution from McCartney. Later that year, he appeared during Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief as a celebrity phone operator. On 7 July 2010, Starr celebrated his 70th birthday at Radio City Music Hall, New York with another All-Starr Band concert, topped with friends and family joining him on stage including Yoko Ono and his son Zak: McCartney made a surprise appearance.Starr recorded a cover of Buddy Holly's "Think It Over" for the tribute album Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, which was released on 6 September 2011. On 30 January 2012, he released the album Ringo 2012. Later that year, Starr announced that his All-Starr Band would tour the Pacific Rim during 2013 with select dates in New Zealand, Australia and Japan; it would be his first performance in Japan since 1996, and his debut in both New Zealand and Australia. In January 2014, Starr reunited with Paul McCartney for a special performance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards performing the song "Queenie Eye" at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.InfluencesDuring his youth, Starr had been a devoted fan of skiffle and blues music, but by the time he joined the Texans in 1958, he had developed a preference for rock and roll. He was also influenced by country artists, including Hank Williams, Buck Owens and Hank Snow, and jazz drummers such as Chico Hamilton and Yusef Lateef, whose compositional style inspired Starr's fluid and energetic drum fills and grooves. While reflecting on Buddy Rich, Starr commented: "He does things with one hand that I can't do with nine, but that's technique. Everyone I talk to says 'What about Buddy Rich?' Well, what about him? Because he doesn't turn me on." He stated that he "was never really into drummers", but identified Cozy Cole's 1958 cover of Benny Goodman's "Topsy Part Two" as "the one drum record" he bought.Starr's first musical hero was Gene Autry, about whom he commented: "I remember getting shivers up my back when he sang, "South of the Border". By the early 1960s he had become an ardent fan of Lee Dorsey. In November 1964, Starr told Melody Maker: "Our music is second-hand versions of negro music ... Ninety per cent of the music I like is coloured."DrummingThe overall effect of Starr's drumming contribution to the Beatles has received high praise from notable drummers and fans, while Starr has acknowledged the technical limitations of his drumming for the band, and commented: "I'm no good on the technical things ... I'm your basic offbeat drummer with funny fills ... because I'm really left-handed playing a right-handed kit. I can't roll around the drums because of that." Beatles producer George Martin stated: "Ringo hit good and hard and used the tom-tom well, even though he couldn't do a roll to save his life", although Martin later added, "He's got tremendous feel. He always helped us to hit the right tempo for a song, and gave it that support – that rock-solid back-beat – that made the recording of all the Beatles' songs that much easier." Starr commented: "I've always believed that the drummer is not there to interpret the song", comparing his drumming to painting, he stated: "I am the foundation, and then I put a bit of glow here and there ... If there's a gap, I want to be good enough to fill it."In 2011, readers of Rolling Stone magazine voted Starr as the fifth-greatest drummer of all time. Journalist Robyn Flans, a long-time contributor with Modern Drummer magazine, writing for the Percussive Arts Society stated: "I cannot count the number of drummers who have told me that Ringo inspired their passion for drums". Drummer Steve Smith commented on Starr's musical contribution:Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity. Ringo's popularity brought forth a new paradigm in how the public saw drummers. We started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect. One of Ringo's great qualities was that he composed unique, stylistic drum parts for the Beatles' songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song.Starr influenced Phil Collins, the drummer for Genesis, who said: "Starr is vastly underrated. The drum fills on the song "A Day in the Life" are very complex things. You could take a great drummer today and say, 'I want it like that.' He wouldn't know what to do." In September 1980, Lennon told Rolling Stone:Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met. Ringo was a professional drummer who sang and performed and was in one of the top groups in Britain, but especially in Liverpool. So Ringo's talent would have come out one way or the other ... whatever that spark is in Ringo, we all know it but can't put our finger on it. Whether it's acting, drumming, or singing, I don't know. There's something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced as an individual ... Ringo is a damn good drummer.In his extensive survey of the Beatles' recording sessions, historian Mark Lewisohn confirmed that Starr was both proficient and remarkably reliable and consistent. According to Lewisohn, there were fewer than a dozen occasions in the Beatles' eight-year recording career where session breakdowns were caused by Starr making a mistake, while the vast majority of takes were stopped owing to mistakes by the other three Beatles. Starr is considered to have influenced various modern drumming techniques, such as the matched grip, tuning the drums lower, and using muffling devices on tonal rings, as well as placing the drums on high risers for visibility as part of the band. According to Ken Micallef and Donnie Marshall, co-authors of Classic Rock Drummers: "Ringo's fat tom sounds and delicate cymbal work were imitated by thousands of drummers."SingingStarr sang lead vocals for a song on most of the Beatles' studio albums as part of an attempt to establish a vocal personality for each band member. In many cases, Lennon or McCartney wrote the lyrics and melody especially for him, as they did for "Yellow Submarine" from Revolver and "With a Little Help from My Friends" on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. These melodies were tailored to Starr's limited baritone vocal range. Starr's backing vocals are heard on songs such as "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Carry That Weight". He is also the lead vocalist on his compositions "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden". In addition, he also sang lead on "I Wanna Be Your Man", "Boys", "Matchbox", "Honey Don't", "Act Naturally", "Good Night" and "What Goes On".CompositionStarr's idiosyncratic turns of phrase, or Ringoisms as they became known, such as a hard day's night and tomorrow never knows, were used as song titles by the Beatles, particularly by Lennon. McCartney commented: "Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical ... they were sort of magic". As well as inspiring his bandmates' creativity in this way, Starr occasionally contributed lyrics to unfinished Lennon–McCartney songs, such as the line "darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there" from "Eleanor Rigby".Starr is credited as a co-writer of "What Goes On", "Flying" and "Dig It". On material issued after the break-up, Starr received a writing credit for "Taking a Trip to Carolina" and received joint songwriting credits with the other three Beatles for "12-Bar Original", "Los Paranoias", "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)", "Suzy Parker", heard in the Let It Be film, and "Jessie's Dream", from the Magical Mystery Tour film.Personal lifeWhen Starr married Maureen in 1965, Beatles manager Brian Epstein served as best-man, with Starr's step-father Harry Graves and fellow Beatle George Harrison as witnesses. Soon afterwards, the couple's matrimony became the subject of a US novelty song, "Treat Him Tender, Maureen", by the Chicklettes. Starr and Maureen had three children together: Zak (born 13 September 1965), Jason (born 19 August 1967) and Lee (born 11 November 1970). In 1971, Starr purchased Lennon's former home, Tittenhurst Park at Sunninghill in Berkshire and moved his family there. Following Starr's repeated infidelities, the couple divorced in 1975. Maureen died from leukaemia in 1994.In 1980, while on the set of the film Caveman, Starr met actress Barbara Bach; they were married on 27 April 1981. In 1985, he was the first of the Beatles to become a grandfather upon the birth of Zak's daughter, Tatia Jayne Starkey. Zak Starkey is also a drummer, and during his father's regular absences, he spent time with the Who's Keith Moon. Zak has performed with his father during some All-Starr Band tours.Starr and Bach split their time between homes in Cranleigh, Surrey; Los Angeles; and Monte Carlo. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, Starr was listed at number 56 with an estimated personal wealth of £150m.Awards and recognitionDuring the 1965 Birthday Honours for Queen Elizabeth II, Starr and the other Beatles were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE); they received their insignia from the Queen at an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 26 October. He and the other Beatles were cumulatively nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer for their performances in the 1964 film A Hard Day's Night. In 1971, the Beatles received an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the film Let It Be. In 1988, the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the 50th Grammy Awards, Starr, George Martin and his son Giles accepted the Best Compilation Soundtrack award for Love. On 9 November 2008, Starr accepted a Diamond Award on behalf of the Beatles during the 2008 World Music Awards ceremony in Monaco.The minor planet 4150 Starr, discovered on 31 August 1984 by Brian A. Skiff at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell Observatory, was named in Starr's honour. Starr was nominated for a 1989 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his role as Mr. Conductor in the television series Shining Time Station. On 8 February 2010, he was honoured with the 2,401st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. It is located at 1750 North Vine Street, in front of the Capitol Records building, as are the stars for Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. He became Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2013.FilmsStarr has received praise from critics and movie industry professionals regarding his acting; director and producer Walter Shenson called him "a superb actor, an absolute natural." By the mid-1960s, Starr had become a connoisseur of film. In addition to his roles in A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), Magical Mystery Tour (1967), Yellow Submarine (1968) and Let It Be (1970), Starr also acted in Candy (1968), The Magic Christian (1969), Blindman (1971), Son of Dracula (1974) and Caveman (1981). In 1971, he starred as Larry the Dwarf in Frank Zappa's 200 Motels and was featured in Harry Nilsson's animated film The Point! He co-starred in That'll Be the Day (1973) as a Teddy Boy and appeared in The Last Waltz, the Martin Scorsese documentary film about the 1976 farewell concert of the Band.Starr played The Pope in Ken Russell's Lisztomania (1975), and a fictionalised version of himself in McCartney's Give My Regards to Broad Street in 1984. Starr appeared as himself and a downtrodden alter-ego Ognir Rrats in Ringo (1978), an American-made television comedy film based loosely on The Prince and the Pauper. For the 1979 documentary film on the Who, The Kids Are Alright, Starr appeared in interview segments with fellow drummer Keith Moon.


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