Ringo Starr turns 80: the most famous and friendliest drummer

He is the oldest of the Beatles and on Tuesday July 7th he celebrates his eighth decade, surrounded by “peace and love”

He was the last to enter the group and the first to leave. Perhaps “the ugly duckling” of The Beatles , life gave him revenge and he claims to be a happy man. This Tuesday, July 7,  Ringo Starr  turns 80.

On his Twitter accounts ( @ringostarrmusic , with 1.9 million followers) and Instagram ( @ringostarrmusic , with 848 thousand), he closes all his posts with the phrase ” peace & love (paz y amor )”. “I am happy to have been born and to be here,” he says.

Because of the confinement forced by the coronavirus pandemic , this year Ringo will not be able to continue with the tradition that began more than a decade ago , to celebrate his birthday somewhere in the world to promote peace. In Argentina, he blew out the candles when he turned 77, in one of the four times he toured the country with his All Starr Band. In 2011 it was the first and then returned in 2013, 2015 and 2017 .

But even so, there will be a celebration: it will be by streaming and can be seen on its official YouTube channel (in Argentina it will be at 9pm). Participating, among others, are Paul McCartney , Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Sheila E., Joe Walsh, Gary Clark Jr. and, curiously, the Chascomús School Orchestra , with which Ringo has a link since 2017, and for which invited them to join, for three minutes, via Zoom.

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Richard Starkey was born in Liverpool, England, on July 7, 1940 , in the middle of World War II,  three months and two days before John Lennon , one of his future companions on the road in the most famous rock band of all time. .

The pseudonym Ringo Starr came over the years : the name comes from the number of rings he used ( rings, in English) although he also assured that he had chosen it because “it is a dog’s name and I like dogs.” The last name comes from the abbreviation of yours and the word star in English ( star ).

Ringo had a difficult childhood. With an absent father, at six years of age he was in a coma for two months due to peritonitis and at 13, due to pleurisy, he returned to hospital for two years .

Being away from school prevented him from having a formal education, but instead he  learned to play the drums in music classes while he was boarding school . And his stepfather gave him one, second-hand, when he was discharged. The drum set was right-handed and Ringo was left-handed , which led to his particular style of playing.

Before devoting himself entirely to music, Ringo worked as a messenger for the British railways, as a porter on a ferry and as an apprentice assembler in a mechanical company.

In 1960, he was part of the group Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, then super popular in Liverpool. At a concert in Hamburg, Germany, he crossed paths with another band, The Beatles , whose members included John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, on drums. They became friends.

After impersonating Best several times, in 1962, John, Paul, and George decided to kick Pete Best out and call Ringo , hooked on his charisma and sympathy. Starr accepted accepted with the idea of ​​saving to open a barber shop, not very confident in his talent as a drummer and without imagining everything that would come next.

“Ringo was a great drummer. He didn’t excel technically, but he was always excellent ,” George Harrison once said . Something that Paul McCartney confirmed: “Only when we did the first show at The Cavern with Ringo, in 1962, we were a real band. If Ringo was there, you knew that everything would turn out well,” he assured. The drum solo on The End , (from Abbey Road album ) Starr did it in one take.

“I really enjoyed living in the ’60s, when the message of peace and love was born. The Beatles fit perfectly with that,” said the drummer, who assures that his favorite subject of the band is not one of the many famous hits but another lower-profile song, Rain .

Of the four Beatles, Ringo is the one who composed the least and the one who sang the least. In  With a Little Help of my Friends, where his voice appears ,  appealing to his sense of humor, the lyrics say:  “What would you do if I disagreed when singing?” .  Their strong point within the quartet was the drama that brought out in interviews and in the movies , where it always shone like the most fun.



Ringo Starr
Beatles version 1969. Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon (Photo: Reuters

One of their best-known songs, Octopus’s Garden was born in an impasse shortly before the band’s separation. In the middle of a recording, fed up with the friction and the fights, Ringo slammed the door and left . Desperate for his absence, the other three asked him to return, but Ringo was sailing on actor Peter Sellers’ private yacht through the Mediterranean.

It was there, off the coast of Sardinia, that an octopus served at lunch and some peculiarities of this animal that they told him, inspired him to compose his song . The tour ended, they made peace and the group had a new theme. However, if it is the Top 3 of the most popular songs that he put his voice to, Yellow Submarine certainly itches .

While the Beatles existed and also when they separated, Ringo was the only one who maintained a good relationship with everyone. we were four brothers “, he assured.

In the ’90s, when life as part of the most iconic band in history had already been left far behind, and one of them was no longer there, Ringo remembered that being a Beatle was something that only the four of them could know . “We are the only ones who know each other. The two of them are the only ones who don’t look at me like a Beatle, but at Ringo and, I’m the only one who looks at them just like George and Paul. ”

In the ’70s, when each one made his own way, Ringo, in addition to publishing some solo albums, had a time at the cinema where he was praised for his talent as an actor. He shot a few movies and several commercials, including one in Japan.

But the affable Ringo also went through a dark stage, marked by drugs and alcohol, in the 1980s. “It was a period of bitterness. There were whole years that I do not remember anything. I could have died at any time, ” he said. He got to shave his head and eyebrows, sales of his records fell and there were no offers to act.

In 1988 he decided to go to a rehabilitation process with his second wife, actress Barbara Bach and, already recovered, he returned to work. Also, he became a vegetarian, just like Paul McCartney.

A few years earlier, he had faced one of the hardest moments of his life when, on December 8, 1980, his friend and life brother, John Lennon, was assassinated in New York. Ringo’s relationship with Yoko Ono, then John’s questioned wife, was always the kindest of all the members of the group and that’s why he was the first to know about it.

From the Bahamas, where he was, he first called Cynthia, John’s first wife, and Julian, the musician’s oldest son. Then he flew to New York to comfort Yoko and Sean, the youngest son , with whom he spent an entire afternoon playing while sadness invaded him.

The relationship continues until today and two years ago, when Yoko recreated in front of the New York City Council, the famous “peace bed” that she had represented with John Lennon almost 50 years earlier, she did it accompanied by Ringo and the actor Jeff Bridges.

To be a rock star, Ringo’s love life didn’t have too many ups and downs. In 1965 he married Maureen Cox with whom he had three children: Zak (drummer for The Who and his father’s current band), Jason and Lee. They were ten years together until their divorce. And in 1980, during the filming of the movie The Caveman , with Peter Sellers, Ringo met Barbara Bach , model and former Bond girl, with whom he remains married to this day.

In addition to dedicating himself to charity, Ringo continues to tour the world with his band the Ringo Starr and His All Stars Band. And he has no problem singing all the Beatles songs that the public asks for, in addition to his songs and those of his guests, always famous.

With an optimistic smile always present, Ringo is scared by age. “I’m going to be 80 years old!” He said. “I can’t hide my birthday. Everyone knows when I was born and they know exactly how old I am. That doesn’t embarrass me , ” he said. “When I was a teenager I thought that everyone over 60 would have to be shot because they were useless and when I turned 40, my mother told me: ‘Son, I guess you don’t think like that anymore,’ ” he confessed.

Always involved in the fight for equality, from his Twitter he supported, like Paul McCartney, the protests against racism that began around the world after the murder of George Floyd by a policeman.

” As my brother Paul says, The Beatles have always stood for equal rights and justice and since then I have never stopped working for peace and love. # Blacklivesmatter (black lives are worth), # peaceispossible (peace is possible) “he wrote a few weeks ago on his Twitter. “I send my peaceful, loving and constant support to all who march and defend justice for a better world.”

Appointed Knight of the British Empire two years ago , Ringo’s heart also holds a place for another of his passions: soccer. The former beatle publicly congratulated his team, Liverpool, who were crowned champions of the English league 15 days ago. And of course, he also sent him “peace and love”.

Amelia Warner– After graduating from NYU with a master's degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Amelia Warner mostly covers Entertainment topics, but at times loves to write about movie reviews as well.

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