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." Ironically, the story of Ringo's evolution from former Beatle to successful solo artist is still best told from the beginning.
Ringo Starr's music, as a solo artist and as a Beatle, is permeated with his personality. His warmth and humor, and his exceptional musicianship have given us songs we all know and love, including "With A Little Help From My Friends," "Don't Pass Me By," "Octopus' 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," "The No No Song," and "Never Without You."
Since beginning his career with The Beatles in the 1960s, Ringo Starr has been one of the world's brightest musical luminaries. He has enjoyed a successful and dynamic solo career as a singer, songwriter and drummer, an active musical collaborator, and as an actor. Drawing inspiration from classic blues, soul, country, honky-tonk and rock 'n' roll, Ringo continues to play an important role in modern music with his solo recording and touring.
"When I was thirteen, I only wanted to be a drummer," remembers Starr. Four years later at age seventeen, he joined the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Band. In 1959, Starr hooked up with the Raving Texans, which later became Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. In 1962, while playing a summer gig with Storm, Starr was asked to join The Beatles. Worried that he might cost his bandmates the summer gig if he left, Starr delayed his departure until after they found themselves a replacement. On August 18, 1962, Ringo Starr officially became a Beatle.
In 1970, Starr released his first solo record with EMI, entitled Sentimental Journey, which was exactly that - a sentimental record capturing the music he grew up with (he later said "I did it for my Mum"). The following year, Starr released Beaucoups Of Blues, a country and western album that he recorded with Pete Drake in Nashville in just two days. That same year, The Beatles broke up.
Starr's passion for creating music continued to propel him forward, and in 1971 he began his unprecedented run as the first solo Beatle to score seven consecutive Top 10 singles, starting with the release of "It Don't Come Easy," with a B-side of "Early 1970." His second hit single, "Back Off Boogaloo"/"Blindman" followed in 1972, and was written with and inspired by T Rex frontman Marc Bolan. In 1973, Starr released his self-titled smash hit Ringo, which yielded three Top 10 singles, including the #1 hits "Photograph"/"Down and Out," and "You're Sixteen (You're Beautiful And You're Mine)"/"Devil Woman." Ringo also marked the first time since the breakup that all of The Beatles participated in the same project, though not at the same time.
Between the years 1974 and 1978, Starr continued to release more hits, including the Top 10 singles "Only You"/"Call Me" and "The No No Song"/"Snookeroo" 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 with Art Carney and Carrie Fisher.
In 1981, Starr recorded Stop and Smell the Roses, his most critically acclaimed record since Ringo, followed by Old Wave in 1983, for which he teamed up with producer Joe Walsh. A hits collection, Starr Struck: The Best Of Ringo Starr, Vol. 2, was released in 1989.
The 1990s saw Starr release some of the best records of his career, and he also found consistent success as a live act with his revolving All Starr Band. The concept for the All Starr Band was first presented in 1989. "I got a message from a guy named David Fishof asking if I'd be interested in putting a band together. 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 Eagle Joe Walsh, E-Streeters 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 and yielded Starr's first live album, simply titled Ringo and His All Starr Band, released in 1990. "I've said this over and over again, but I love being in a band," says Starr.
In 1992, Starr released Time Takes Time and The New York Times hailed it as "Starr's best: more consistently pleasing than Ringo, it shows him as an assured performer and songwriter." Later that same year, Starr put together his second All Starr Band, which featured Burton Cummings, Dave Edmunds, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren, Timothy B Schmidt, Starr's son Zak Starkey, and Joe Walsh. This tour marked the first time Starr had toured Europe since he'd done so with The Beatles. The second All Starr Band also yielded a new concert album, Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band - Live From Montreaux.
Starr's third All Starr Band in 1995 toured the U.S. and Japan, and again featured Zak Starkey as well as John Entwistle, Felix Cavaliere, Mark Farner, Billy Preston, Mark Rivera and Randy Bachman. In 1997, Starr released Ringo Starr and His Third All Starr Band, Vol. 1, and he also assembled his fourth All Starr band with Gary Brooker, Jack Bruce, Peter Frampton, Simon Kirke and Mark River. They toured the U.S. and Europe, and in 1998, Starr, with his All Starr Band, became the first former Beatle to play in Russia.
1998 heralded the release of Vertical Man, which was recorded with Mark Hudson, and marked the first collaboration with Starr and "the Roundheads." It was one of Starr's strongest records, due largely to his deep involvement as drummer, singer, co-writer and co-producer. The release was followed by an appearance at New York City's The Bottom Line and on VH1's "Storytellers," which saw Starr and the Roundheads performing an assortment of his greatest hits, including "It Don't Come Easy," "Photograph," "Back off Boogaloo" and "Don't Pass Me By." The performance was later released on CD, under the same Storytellers title.
1999 began with the creation of the fifth All Starr Band (February 12 - March 29), which consisted 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, which mixed classics ("The Little Drummer Boy") and originals ("I Wanna Be Santa Claus").
The sixth All Starr Band was launched in 2000, made up of Jack Bruce, Eric Carmen, Dave Edmunds, Simon Kirke and Mark Rivera. They toured the U.S. from May 12 to July 1. The following spring, Starr put together the seventh All Starr Band, which featured the first female All Starr, Sheila E, as well as Greg Lake, Roger Hodgson, Ian Hunter, Howard Jones and Mark Rivera. Then, on July 24, 2001, he celebrated more than a decade of All Starr tours with the release of Ringo and His All Starr Band: The Anthology, So FarÉ.
In March 2003, The Roundheads launched the release of Ringo Rama with another impromptu performance at New York's Bottom Line. 2003's eighth All Starr Band hit the road with Paul Carrack, Sheila E., Colin Hay, Mark Rivera and John Waite. This tour resulted in another live CD, Ringo Starr and His All Star Band: Tour 2003 and a DVD.
"For me it works as a great formula, it's just really a great way for me to do it," Starr said about the All Starr experience. "If you look at all the bands I've put together, it's an incredible array of musicians, all these different people. Everyone has hit records, hit songs. The show consists of me upfront 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."
In 2004, Genesis Books announced a limited edition print run of Starr's book, Postcards From The Boys, the proceeds of which went to the Lotus Foundation charity. Starr described the book 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."
Starr's Choose Love album was released in 2005.
On August 28, 2007, Starr's four EMI Music catalog albums, Sentimental Journey (1970), Beaucoups Of Blues (1970), the platinum-certified Ringo (1973) and gold-certified Goodnight Vienna (1974) made their global digital release debuts across all of the world's major digital sales providers. On the same date, Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing released the first-ever career and label-spanning collection of Starr's best solo recordings, PHOTOGRAPH: The Very Best Of Ringo Starr, featuring 20 standout Starr tracks, among them seven Top 10 Pop hits, released between 1970 and 2005 with Capitol, Atlantic, Mercury, Boardwalk, Private Music and Koch. The Collector's Edition adds seven never before released film and video clips on DVD, including original promotional films for "It Don't Come Easy," "Sentimental Journey," "Back Off Boogaloo," among others, and the music video for "Act Naturally" (with Buck Owens).
On January 15, 2008, Starr released Liverpool 8, his first new album with Capitol/EMI since 1974's Goodnight Vienna. Liverpool 8 is available worldwide on CD and digitally, and in the United States, the album is also available as a pre-loaded USB wristband including the entire album, a personal video message from Ringo Starr with behind-the-scenes footage, ringtunes and album art.
Liverpool 8's 12 original tracks were all co-written by Starr and were recorded in England and in California. "The writing of the records is always the same," Ringo explains. "It's the same group of guys and we all sit together and write about what's happening." That "group of guys" who joined Starr on the album's songwriting and recording are (in alphabetical order): Gary Burr, Steve Dudas, Mark Hudson, Sean Hurley, Zac Rae, and Dave Stewart.
Starr has said that as time goes on there is more and more of his personality in his music, and the songs on Liverpool 8 feel personal. His candor, wit and soul are evident in the lyrics and the heartbeat of every song; I always followed my heart and I never missed a beat. Peace and love are Ringo Starr's primary life beats, and Liverpool 8 propels this universal message in each of its evocative songs, which are imbued with joy, insight, reflection and wisdom from the music icon the world knows and loves simply as 'Ringo.'