July 7, 2011

RINGO ROCKS AT 71

Happy Birthday to Ringo Starr! The former Beatle is still rocking at age 71 on a tour throughout eastern and western Europe. Concert info at his official website here. Ringo Starr, born Richard Starkey, had rough beginnings in the Dingle section of Liverpool, with serious illnesses and "hard knocks with rival gangs." The skiffle craze carried him into a lifetime career in entertainment when he formed Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957. He joined the Raving Texans in 1959- renamed Rory Storm and the Hurricanes as Rock music prevailed as the dominant form. Ringo's band was quite popular in Liverpool and Hamburg, where life on the road brought him into contact with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. Won over by Ringo's steady beat, warmth and humor, The Beatles eventually welcomed him as their new drummer on August 18, 1962. Photo below (looking slightly like a proto-Jason King) by Richard Avedon.


Many of Ringo's best post-Beatles songs are about relationships and include a number of collaborations with fellow-Beatles and other friends from the industry. The songs lyrically express Ringo's emotions of love and loss for the people in his life. The cream of his work is quite touching and down-to-earth, a quality that speaks to his early passion for country music (Ringo's second solo album, Beaucoups of Blues (1970), was a collection of country songs). Ringo spent his wild years in the 1970s, making mayhem with pals Keith Moon, Marc Bolan, and appearing in two all-star Rock events, George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh and The Band's The Last Waltz.
Starting with his acclaimed performance in A Hard Day's Night (1964), Ringo has also had a long movie career, including Candy (1968), the cover story of the current issue of Cinema Retro magazine. Ringo's IMDB page here.

Ringo has collaborated often with his fellow Beatles on projects since the band's split in 1970.
Stop and Smell the Roses (1981) was planned to include all four members of the Beatles. Ringo recorded with George Harrison and Paul McCartney in 1980, but John Lennon was killed in December before the two could meet in the studio. The record includes Harry Nilsson, Stephen Stills, Al Kooper, Ronnie Wood, and ends poignantly with promo spots for gun control. Photo below with wife (and James Bond girl) Barbara Bach (The Spy Who Loved Me) at the premiere of Cirque du Soliel's LOVE show in Las Vegas in 2006.


If you haven't explored Ringo's work lately, here are a some essentials. I hope you will spend some time with Ringo on his birthday. Cheers, Ringo!

Films: A Hard Days Night (1964), Help (1965), The Magic Christian (1969), The Point! (1971), Caveman (1981), Ringo Starr VH1 Storytellers (1998).

Beatles Tracks: I Wanna Be Your Man, Boys, Act Naturally, Tomorrow Never Knows, Rain, With a Little Help From My Friends, Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day in the Life, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road (album).

With Fellow Beatles: Beautiful Night (McCartney/George Martin), All Those Years Ago (Harrison/McCartney), John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (album), Take it Away (McCartney), When We Was Fab (Harrison).

Ringo Solo Tracks: Early 1970, Step Lightly, It Don't Come Easy, Photograph, Goodnight Vienna (reprise), Back Off Boogaloo, Never Without You, King of Broken Hearts, Liverpool 8, Harry's Song.


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