Thursday, July the 7th is the 71st birthday of one of the most well known drummers in music history. Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, survived childhood illnesses, grew up in a rough neighborhood, and joined what would become the biggest band in the world: The Beatles. Though some may have doubted his talent (the best drummers are always underrated), he went on to a successful solo career that has spanned over 40 years. Let’s take a look at some of his career highlights.
On “P.S. I Love You”, the B side of their first single, producer George Martin hired session musician Andy White to play the drums because he doubted Starr’s abilities, but Ringo contributed to the track by taking over the maracas.
He soon proved to be an excellent drummer, and an extremely popular member of the band. It has been said that during their years together, Ringo received the most fan mail. Each album would feature at least one song in which he sang lead, like this cover of the Shirelles’ “Boys”.
Critics praised his acting in A Hard Day’s Night, leading to his starring role in the Beatles’ next movie, Help!. One of the highlights of its soundtrack album was his rendition of Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally”.
A lifelong country music fan, he sang lead on their cover of Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox”. It hit No.17 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart.
When asked about his first-ever co-songwriting credit on “What Goes On”, Ringo joked that he only wrote “about five words” of it. Featured as the flip side of the No. 3 hit “Nowhere Man”, some pressings of the single didn’t even mention him!
He has said that he thinks “Rain” features his best drumming, adding, “I feel as though that was someone else playing. I was possessed! I think I just played amazing.”
On the second track of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, he sings under the “alias” of “Billy Shears”.
He also sang lead on the closing track on The Beatles (White Album), “Goodnight”.
1968’s Candy would be the first of many more film roles for Starr that were not Beatles-related projects.
When Starr first met the rest of the Beatles, he told them he hated drum solos. Ironically, his only drum solo for the group appeared on their last recorded album.
Still friends, all of his former bandmates contributed their time and talent to Ringo’s first solo album, Sentimental Journey. Here we have his cover of “Stardust”, which was arranged by Paul.
“It Don’t Come Easy” was his first solo hit, hitting No. 4 in the US.
He directed the T. Rex documentary Born to Boogie, and based his “Back Off Boogaloo” on comments the band’s lead singer made to him during a dinner.
“Oh My My” was the last single off 1974’s successful Ringo album.
Despite being released years before he would enter rehab, there is an anti-drugs and alcohol message in his cover of “The No No Song”.
His later albums weren’t as commercially successful, but he had some popular singles like, “A Dose of Rock N Roll”.
In 1978, CBS gave Ringo his own hour-long TV special, which also featured George Harrison and some notable Hollywood actors.
His Stop and Smell the Roses album was originally going to include two songs written by John Lennon: “Life Begins at 40” and “Nobody Told Me”. Lennon’s tragic death changed all that, but the album featured this track, written by George Harrison.
He played a version of himself in the Paul McCartney-starring Give My Regards to Broad Street.
July 23rd, 1989 marked the first concert by “Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band”. Though the all-Starr line-up changes throughout the years, the tours continue.
Starring in many commercials throughout the years, this 1995 one for Pizza Hut is one of his most memorable.
Ringo appeared on Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie album with “Really Love You”, the first song to carry the McCartney/Starkey songwriting credit.
Vertical Man’s “King of Broken Hearts” is a little-known gem in his catalogue, and one of my personal favorites.
During the Concert for George charity event, he performed a hit written by his late friend, “Photograph”.
He was an honorary NORAD “Santa-tracker” for the 2003 and 2004 Christmas seasons.
Ringo’s 2008 Liverpool 8 album was his first to be released on CD, MP3, and USB wristband. The title track is an ode to his birthplace.
At the “David Lynch Change Begins Within Benefit Concert”, Paul and Ringo performed on stage together for the first time in decades.
With the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, Ringo can add “video game character” to his resume!
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon devoted an entire show to Starr’s appearance in 2009.
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame early last year.
He recently announced on British television that he is working on a new album, which will feature another song about his hometown, “In Liverpool”.
// Notes from the Road
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