“Ultimately what’s most impressive about Ringo Starr isn’t what he’s been, but rather who he is,” wrote Rolling Stone rock critic David Wild, “the man’s great heart and soul, his wit, and wisdom.” Indeed, his music has always emanated from his warmth, humor, and exceptional skill, manifesting in songs we know and love: “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “Octopus’s Garden,” “Photograph,” “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Back Off Boogaloo,” “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine),” “Don’t Go Where the Road Don’t Go,” “No-No Song,” and “Never Without You,” to name a few. Since beginning his career with The Beatles in the 1960s, Ringo has been one of the world’s brightest musical luminaries. He has enjoyed a successful, dynamic solo career as a singer, songwriter, drummer, collaborator, and producer – releasing 19 solo studio albums to date. He is also an acclaimed actor appearing in over 15 films. Drawing inspiration from classic blues, soul, country, honky-tonk and rock ‘n’ roll, he continues to play an important recording, touring, and unofficial mentoring role in modern music.
Born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940, he knew “at a very young age” what he wanted to do. “When I was 13, I only wanted to be a drummer,” remembers Ringo. Four years later, he joined the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Band, and in 1959 hooked up with the Raving Texans, who later became Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Just three years after that, Ringo was asked to join The Beatles. Worried that he might cost the Hurricanes a summer-long residency if he left, he delayed his departure until they could find a replacement. On August 18, 1962, Ringo Starr officially joined Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison in what would become one of the most important popular music acts of all time, or as Ringo says, “the biggest band in the land.”
In 1970, EMI released Ringo’s first solo album, Sentimental Journey. It was exactly that: a record of the music he’d grown up with and which remained close to his heart. (He later said, “I did it for my Mum.”) Ringo followed up a year later with Beaucoups of Blues, a country and western album recorded in Nashville in just two days with pedal steel player and producer Pete Drake. That same year, The Beatles disbanded.
But Ringo’s passion for creating music continued to propel him and those around him forward. In 1971, he began his unprecedented run as the first solo Beatle to score seven consecutive Top 10 singles, starting with “It Don’t Come Easy.” His second hit single, 1972’s “Back Off Boogaloo,” was written with and inspired by T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan. Ringo released his eponymous smash hit album in 1973. It yielded three top 10 singles, including the No. 1 hits “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine).” The Ringo album also marked the first time since The Beatles’ break-up that all four band members participated in the same project (though not at the same time).
The 1970s also saw Ringo expand on his film career, which began in the 1960s with The Beatles films, A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, Help! in 1965, and Magical Mystery Tour in 1967. In 1968, he starred in Candy and in 1969 he co-starred opposite friend Peter Sellers in the critically acclaimed Magic Christian. In 1970, the documentary Let It Be was released, and in 1971 Ringo starred in Blindman. In 1974, he joined his best friend, Harry Nilsson, in The Son of Dracula, narrated Harry’s animated film The Point, and appeared in Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. In 1973 he co-starred as a Teddy Boy in That’ll Be The Day, in 1975 in Ken Russell’s Lisztomania, and in 1976 joined The Band for their legendary final concert filmed by Martin Scorsese, The Last Waltz.
Between 1974 and 1978, Ringo released such hits as the Top 10 singles “Only You (And You Alone)” and “No-No Song,” and the albums Goodnight Vienna (1974), Blast from Your Past (1975), Rotogravure (1976), Ringo the 4th (1977), and Bad Boy (1978), which was complemented by a television special, Ognir Rats, with Art Carney, Angie Dickinson, Carrie Fisher and Vincent Price. In 1979, he appeared in the documentary on The Who, The Kids Are All Right, and in 1981 Ringo starred in Caveman, where he met and soon married his beautiful co-star, Barbara Bach. “I fell in love with her the moment I saw her getting on the plane, and I’ve been blessed that she has loved me since.” That same year he recorded Stop and Smell the Roses, his most critically acclaimed record since Ringo, followed two years later by Old Wave, for which he teamed up with producer Joe Walsh of the Eagles. In 1984 he appeared in Paul McCartney’s film Give My Regards To Broad Street.
In 1989, Ringo assembled his first All Starr Band, and he found consistent success as a live act with his revolving All Starrs. “I got asked if I’d be interested in putting a band together,” Ringo would later recount. “I had been thinking the same thing, and so I went through my phone book, rang up a few friends and asked them if they’d like to have fun in the summer.” Those friends included Joe Walsh, E-Streeter’s Clarence Clemmons and Nils Lofgren, former Band members Rick Danko and Levon Helm, Dr. John, Billy Preston, and Jim Keltner. The tour met with great success, yielding his first live album, Ringo and His All Starr Band, in 1990. “I’ve said this over and over again,” Ringo remarked, “but I love being in a band.”
The 1990s saw some of the best records of Ringo’s career. In 1992, he released Time Takes Time, which The New York Times hailed as “Starr’s best: more consistently pleasing than Ringo, it shows him as an assured performer and songwriter.” Later that year, Ringo put together his second All Starr Band, featuring Zak Starkey (his son), Burton Cummings, Dave Edmunds, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren, Timothy B. Schmidt, and Joe Walsh. It marked the first time Ringo had toured Europe since his Beatles days. The band’s second incarnation also yielded a new concert album, Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band – Live from Montreux. The third All Starr Band toured the U.S. and Japan in 1995, again featuring Zak Starkey, as well as John Entwistle, Felix Cavaliere, Mark Farner, Billy Preston, Mark Rivera and Randy Bachman; Ringo Starr and His Third All Starr Band, Vol. 1 was released in 1997. The fourth band — with Gary Brooker, Jack Bruce, Peter Frampton, Simon Kirke, and Mark Rivera — toured the U.S. and Europe, and with them, Ringo became the first former Beatle to play in Russia.
The year 1998 brought the release of Vertical Man, recorded with Mark Hudson, and the first collaboration between Ringo and “the Roundheads.” It was one of his strongest records, due largely to his deep involvement as drummer, singer, co-writer, and co-producer. He followed with an appearance at NYC’s Bottom Line and on VH1’s “Storytellers.” 1999 began with the creation of the fifth All Starr Band, consisting of Gary Brooker, Jack Bruce, Timmy Cappello, Simon Kirke, and Todd Rundgren. In October that year, Starr released the irrepressibly festive holiday album I Wanna Be Santa Claus, mixing classics like “The Little Drummer Boy” with originals like the title track. The sixth All Starr Band was launched in 2000 and featured Jack Bruce, Eric Carmen, Dave Edmunds, Simon Kirke, and Mark Rivera touring the U.S. together. The following spring, Ringo put together the seventh band, including the first female All Starr, Sheila E, as well as Greg Lake, Roger Hodgson, Ian Hunter, Howard Jones, and Mark Rivera. He celebrated more than a decade of All Starr tours with the release of Ringo and His All Starr Band: The Anthology, So Far.
In 2003, the Roundheads launched the release of Ringo Rama with another impromptu Bottom Line performance. Ringo’s eighth group of All Starrs — Paul Carrack, Sheila E., Colin Hay, Mark Rivera, and John Waite — hit the road in 2003; their tour resulting in another live album and DVD, Ringo Starr and His All Star Band: Tour 2003. “If you look at all the bands I’ve put together, it’s an incredible array of musicians, all these different people,” Ringo said of the All Starr experience. “Everyone has hit records, hit songs. The show consists of me up front, and then I go back behind the kit and support the others. It’s just good music, and I’m having a lot of fun, and that’s what it’s all about – great music and fun.”
Genesis Publications printed a limited edition run in 2004 of Ringo’s book, Postcards from the Boys; the proceeds of which went to the Lotus Foundation charity. He described it as “a presentation of postcards John, Paul, and George have sent me over the years. What’s incredible about them is that some are actual art pieces.” His Choose Love album, full of inspired songs of innocence and experience, was released in 2005. Two years later, Capitol/EMI released the first-ever career and label-spanning collection of Ringo’s best solo recordings, PHOTOGRAPH: The Very Best of Ringo Starr, featuring 20 standout tracks released between 1970 and 2005.
In 2008 Ringo released Liverpool 8, his first new album with Capitol/EMI since 1974’s Goodnight Vienna. He co-wrote its 12 original tracks, recording them in the U.K. and California, and the title track became the first in a series of autobiographical songs. That summer, he toured with his 10th All Starr Band — Gregg Bissonette, Colin Hay, Billy Squier, Hamish Stuart, Edgar Winter, and Gary Wright, across the U.S. and Canada, winding up at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles with a show recorded and later released on DVD by UMe. That summer, he also launched a tradition of celebrating his birthday on July 7, by joining with the public in and with the public in a global call to action for all to say, think or project “Peace & Love” at noon in their local time, with Ringo’s annual birthday wish being a moment of “Peace & Love,” that spreads around the world. The first event occurred outside the Hard Rock Café in Chicago.
Y NOT, the first album Ringo self-produced, came out in 2010, showcasing collaborations with old and new friends: Paul McCartney among them. Their duet and the album’s stunning first single, “Walk with You,” served as a moving tribute to the power of friendship. Ben Harper also sang on the album; his band supporting Ringo on a promotional tour for the release. Ringo received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and launched a tour with his 11th All Starr Band: Gregg Bissonette, Rick Derringer, Wally Palmer, Richard Page, Edgar Winter, and Gary Wright. Over the following year, the band would tour the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. On July 7, 2010, Ringo celebrated another “Peace & Love” birthday with family, friends and thousands gathered outside the Hard Rock Café in Times Square, New York City. The following year, while on tour with the All Starrs, Ringo held a “Peace & Love” birthday event outside the Hard Rock Café in Hamburg, Germany.
Ringo 2012, again produced by its namesake, featured nine tracks, including new versions of “Wings,” and “Step Lightly.” In June that year, Ringo assembled his 12th All Starr Band — Gregg Bissonette, Richard Page, Steve Lukather, Mark Rivera, Gregg Rolie, and Todd Rundgren — who would, by 2013, tour through the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Mexico, and South America. The live DVD Ringo at the Ryman was recorded with this band as well, on Ringo’s birthday, July 7, 2012. Earlier, they all convened for a moment of “Peace & Love” in front of the Hard Rock Café in Nashville.
In June 2013, The GRAMMY® Museum opened “Ringo: Peace & Love,” a record-breaking undertaking that drew more than 120,000 visitors and was the first major exhibit to focus on a drummer. In September 2013, Ringo was awarded the prestigious French Medal of Honor, being appointed Commander of Arts & Letters in recognition of his musical and artistic contributions.
December 2013 saw the publication of Photograph, a limited-edition collection of never-before-seen material, including Ringo’s photos and exclusive images from his own personal archives. It features over 300 photos and 15,000 words of text.
On January 20, 2014, Ringo’s musical legacy was celebrated when The David Lynch Foundation honored him with the Lifetime of Peace & Love Award. Broadcast by AXS on July 13, 2014, the event included star-studded tributes to Ringo’s extensive catalog. Participating artists included Joe Walsh, Ben Harper, Ben Folds, Brendan Benson, Bettye LaVette, the Head & the Heart, and Jesse Elliot and Lindsey McWilliams of Ark Life, with an equally stellar backing band featuring Don Was, Benmont Tench, Peter Frampton, Steve Lukather, and Kenny Aronoff.
January 26, 2014, saw Ringo perform his song “Photograph” on the GRAMMY® Awards, followed by him jumping on the kit during the performance of his old bandmate, Paul McCartney. Ringo and Paul then performed together again the following evening, this time playing several songs for CBS and The Recording Academy’s Emmy®-winning primetime special, “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A GRAMMY® Salute,” celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their first U.S. visit and appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” It was broadcast by CBS on the actual anniversary, February 9, drawing more than 15 million viewers, and aired again February 12. It has also been broadcast internationally.
In February 2014, Simon & Shuster published Octopus’s Garden, a children’s book based on Ringo’s lyrics. That summer Ringo took the 12th All Starr Band back out on the road, adding another leg in October 2014. “I just love this band, and I’m doing anything to keep it together – we keep looking for places we haven’t played yet, and we’ll end up playing clubs,” Ringo joked with reporters when the band launched the summer dates in June 2014.
In July 7, 2014, Ringo celebrated his birthday with his traditional “Peace & Love” event at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, this time joined by John Varvatos, who revealed Ringo would be the model for his 2014 Fall Fashion advertising campaign, coupled with a social media initiative, #PeaceRocks that raised funds and awareness for the David Lynch Foundation via the Ringo Starr Peace & Love Fund. “I’ve waited a long time to become a male model,” Ringo said with a laugh, “and what a great way to do it – all for a good cause.”
In March 2015, Ringo released Postcards From Paradise (UMe) featuring 11 original tracks and his very first single written and recorded with his All Starr Band, “Island In the Sun.” “I have tried for 25 years from the first All-Starr band to get us to write songs and record. It’s just something that I’ve wanted to do,” Ringo explained. “The song started as a jam at a soundcheck. We all wrote it, and we all played on it, and it’s the first time ever!”
In April 2015, he was inducted by Paul McCartney into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist for Musical Excellence, performing his songs with Paul, Joe Walsh and Green Day. In July, Ringo returned to Capitol Records for his 75th birthday joined by family, friends and fans gathered for a special “Peace & Love” celebration. In September 2015, Ringo’s book Photograph was released worldwide in a mass hardcover edition. And in October 2015, Ringo and the All Starrs again returned to the road, performing 21 shows in 31 days throughout North America.
In June of 2016, Ringo took the All Starrs back on tour for 20 shows which began in Syracuse, New York, and predominantly focused on markets the All Starrs had not yet played. The tour wrapped at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on July 2, Ringo’s eighth time playing the Greek with his All Starr Band, and on July 7, Ringo joined hundreds of fans and friends in front of Capitol Records for his annual “Peace & Love” birthday event. In October of 2016, Ringo and His All Starr Band toured again, bookending nine dates in Japan and South Korea with 11 U.S. shows spanning the West Coast.
On July 7, 2017, for the fourth consecutive year, Ringo returned to Capitol Records to celebrate his “Peace & Love” birthday. He also revealed that his 19th studio album, Give More Love, would be released September 15 by UMe. Recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles, Give More Love has 10 new tracks featuring collaborations with friends including: “We’re on The Road Again” featuring Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter, and Steve Lukather; “Laughable” co-written and performed with Peter Frampton as well as Benmont Tench, Timothy B. Schmidt, Richard Page, and Amy Keys; “Show Me the Way” co-written and performed with Steve Lukather and with Paul McCartney; “Speed of Sound” co-written with Richard Marx and featuring Steve Lukather, Peter Frampton, and Nathan East; “Standing Still” co-written with Gary Burr; “King of the Kingdom” including performances by Dave Stewart and Edgar Winter; “Electricity” co-written with Glen Ballard and featuring Joe Walsh and Don Was; “So Wrong For So Long” co-written and performed with Dave Stewart; “Shake It Up” co-written and performed with Gary Nicholson and including Don Was and Edgar Winter; and “Give More Love” co-written with Gary Nicholson including Timothy B. Schmidt and All Starrs Richard Page and Gregg Bissonette.
Give More Love also had four bonus tracks: “Back Off Boogaloo,” “You Can’t Fight Lightning,” “Photograph,” and “Don’t Pass Me By.” This version of “Back Off Booglaloo” is based on the original recording Ringo made when he wrote the song. He recently discovered the tape when he moved houses. The other three bonus tracks are collaborations based on performances from Starr’s 2016 “Peace & Love” birthday event. Alberta Cross performed “You Can’t Fight Lightning,” and Vandaveer performed “Photograph” and “Don’t Pass Me By.” Ringo loved their renditions and asked them to each record them for his new album, also adding his own vocals.
In October and November 2017, Ringo was back out on the road with the 12th iteration of the All Starrs, playing 19 U.S. shows that began with an eight-show, mini-residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, and concluded on the East Coast with a penultimate sold-out show at New York’s Beacon Theater.
In December 2017, it was announced that Ringo was selected by Queen Elizabeth II for knighthood for his music and charity work and would be included in her 2018 Honours list. 2018 will see a new incarnation of the All Starrs, with the addition of 10CC’s Graham Gouldman and the return of Colin Hay, who will join Steve Lukather, Gregg Rolie, Warren Ham, and Gregg Bissonette for a summer tour in Europe.
Throughout his career, he has received nine GRAMMY® Awards, and has twice been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — first as a Beatle and then as a solo artist. Between 1970 and 2017, Ringo has released 19 solo studio records. He has acted in over 15 films, received an Academy Award®, and has been nominated as an actor for an Emmy®. Ringo has published three books; had a stint as a male fashion model, and that same year went behind the lens as the photographer for some Foo Fighters’ PR photos.
For all his many creative successes, Ringo is and always will be first and foremost a musician, a drummer. Ringo’s candor, wit, and soul are the lifeblood of his music. As he sang in his autobiographical song “Liverpool 8,” “I always followed my heart, and I never missed a beat.” Peace and love are his life’s rhythm and melody, and he propels this universal message in everything he does: his evocative artwork, his enthused live performances, his legendary songs, all imbued with the joy, reflection, and wisdom of the music icon the world knows and loves simply as “Ringo.”
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