Ringo Starr

Richard Starkey
BORN: July 7, 1940, Liverpool, England

Ringo Starr, born Richard Starkey, was the drummer in the Beatles from 1962 to 1970 and thus one of the most famous musicians of the '60s. Though the least prominent member of the quartet, he distinguished himself as an occasional singer of good-natured material and as an actor. Upon the group's split, Starr went solo with two novelty projects: the first, an album called Sentimental Journey, found him covering pre-rock standards, and the second, Beacoups of Blues, was a country music collection.

Starr then scored Top Ten hits with two non-album singles, "It Don't Come Easy" in 1971 and "Back off Boogaloo" in 1972. In 1973 he paired with producer Richard Perry and, with assistance from the three other ex-Beatles, made Ringo, which featured two number one hits, "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen." "Oh My My," a Top Ten hit, was also included. Almost as successful was the 1974 follow-up, Goodnight Vienna, which featured the hits "Only You" and "No No Song."

Starr continued to release albums through 1981, though with diminishing success. His 1983 album Old Wave did not find a U.S. distributor. Starr was also suffering from the excesses of his lifestyle, but by the late '80s he had cleaned up, and in 1989 he toured with his "All-Starr Band." In 1992, he signed to Private Music and released a new studio album, Time Takes Time. Vertical Man, his first album for Mercury, followed in 1998, as did a disc culled from his performance on the VH1 Storytellers series. Starr's first seasonal effort, I Wanna Be Santa Claus, appeared a year later. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

Fresh from a nondescript Liverpudlian musical group known as Rory Storme and the Hurricanes, Ringo Starr made the quantum leap to superstardom in 1962 when he replaced Pete Best as drummer for the burgeoning Beatles. Starr was regarded by many music aficionados as the least creative of the foursome, though he may well have enjoyed the largest fan following -- especially among young ladies who felt the urge to "mother" the diminutive Mr. Starr (though he appeared to be the baby of the group, Ringo was in fact the oldest of the Fab Four). In the Beatles' first two films, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965), most of the comedy material went to Ringo, whose Chaplinesque demeanor and droll, deadpan dialogue delivery paid off in big laughs. Upon the group's breakup in 1970, it was Ringo who fared best as a solo screen actor. He had already brightened up the dull proceedings of Candy (1968) and The Magic Christian (1970); after the Beatles' split, he was seen to good advantage as the Pope in Ken Russell's Lisztomania (1975), as one of Mae West's bewildered amours in Sextette (1978) and as a bumbling Cro-Magnon in Caveman (1979), in which he co-starred with his second wife, Barbara Bach. In 1973, Ringo produced the bizarre horror movie spoof Son of Dracula, appearing onscreen with fellow rock icon Harry Nilsson. A big draw all over again in the 1980s thanks to his All-Star Band tours, Ringo Starr remains a most welcome, if infrequent TV guest star; he has also shown up in several entertaining commercials, including a 1995 Pizza Hut spot in which he co-starred with ex-Monkees Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide