“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’ 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, 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 18 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 “at a very young age” he knew from very early on 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 with Pete Drake in just two days. 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, “Back Off Boogaloo” followed in 1972, and 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 #1 hits “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine). The album Ringo also marked the first time since The Beatles’ break-up that all 4 band members participated in the same project (though not at the same time).
The 1970’s also saw Ringo expand on his film career, which began in the 1960’s with The Beatles films, Hard Days Night in 1964, Help! In1965 followed by 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 Scorcese, The Last Waltz.
Between 1974 and 1978, Ringo released such hits as the Top 10 singles “Only You (And You Alone)” and “The 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 Broadstreet. A hits collection, Starr Struck: The Best Of Ringo Starr, Vol. 2, was released in 1989.
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-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, 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 Montreaux. 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 release 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.
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 5th 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 6th 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 7th 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. 2003’s 8th group of All Starrs — Paul Carrack, Sheila E., Colin Hay, Mark Rivera and John Waite — hit the road, their tour resulting in another live album, Ringo Starr and His All Star Band: Tour 2003 and DVD. “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 2004 run 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 Music Catalog Marketing 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.
Ringo released Liverpool 8, his first new album with Capitol/EMI since 1974’s Goodnight Vienna, in 2008. He co-wrote its 12 original tracks, recording them in the UK 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 Theater in Los Angeles with a show recorded and later released as a live DVD by UMe. That summer also launched a tradition of celebrating his birthday, July 7, in and with the public and a global call to action for to say, think or do “Peace & Love” at Noon your local time, the birthday wish being a moment of “Peace & Love” would spread around the world. The first event occurred outside the Hard Rock Café in Chicago.
Y NOT, the first album Ringo himself 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 US, 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 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 9 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 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, was published that December. It featured over 300 photos and 15,000 words of text.
On January 20, 2014 Ringo Starr’s musical legacy was celebrated when The David Lynch Foundation honored him with the ‘Lifetime of Peace & Love Award’. The event included star-studded tributes to Ringo’s extensive catalog that was broadcast on AXS July 13, 2014. 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 Arnoff.
January 26, 2014 saw Ringo perform his song “Photograph” on the GRAMMYS, followed by him jumping on the kit during his old band mate, Paul McCartney’s performance. Ringo and Paul then performed together again the following evening, this time playing several songs for the Emmy Award-nominated taping of CBS’ “The Beatles, A Grammy Salute; The Night That Changed America,” celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their first U.S. visit and appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was broadcast on the exact anniversary, February 9, 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 LA, 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 gathered fans 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 went back out on the road performing 21 shows in 31 days throughout North America.
Throughout his career he has received 9 Grammys, has twice been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame first as a Beatle and then as solo artist. Between 1970 and 2015 Ringo has released 18 solo studio records. He has acted in over 15 films, received an Academy Award, and was 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 for the Foo Fighters PR shots.
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 on the autobiographical 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.’