Happy Birthday to Ringo Starr, who turns 73-years-old on Sunday (July 7th)!!! Coming soon will be Ringo's children's book based around his 1969 Beatles Abbey Road classic, "Octopus's Garden." The book, which will feature artwork by Aliens Love Pants illustrator Ben Cort, will be published in the UK on October 24th and here in the States in January 2014. The first edition will come with a previously unheard track and a reading of the story by Ringo.
In 2012, Ringo released his 17th solo studio album, the critically acclaimed, Ringo 2012, and has already started work on its followup.
With nearly 13 All Starr Band tours and eight studio albums under his belt over the past two decades, Ringo told us that he's happy at how his solo career has shaped up over the years: "I'm sort of in a groove. So I do the record, I do the tour, I do the record, do the tour. And as I said before, as long as I can sit behind (the drums) and stand up and do the gig -- I'm on."
Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey in Liverpool, England on July 7th, 1940. His father, a local baker, left the family when he was only three-years-old. Always a sickly child, Ringo was in and out of hospitals most of his early life, suffering at various times from pleurisy, a ruptured appendix, and, at the age of six, even falling into a coma for several days. He recovered, however, and by 1960 he was the top drummer in Liverpool, playing with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes. Ringo explained how he got his world famous nickname: "Where I come from, in Liverpool, people get nicknames. And I was wearing a lot of rings. And first of all, they started calling me 'Rings.' And then when we went to Butlins Holiday Camp, we changed our names, we all took cowboy names, and I thought 'Ringo Starkey' wasn't quite cowboy enough, so I started calling myself 'Ringo Starr.' And I've been Ringo ever since." In August 1962 he joined the Beatles, becoming one of rock's most influential drummers. He also sang lead on a dozen Beatles songs, including "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Act Naturally," "Yellow Submarine," "With A Little Help From My Friends," and "Octopus's Garden." Legendary Beatles producer George Martin recalls slighting Ringo the first time he met him, by insisting that session drummer Alan White drum on the Beatles' debut single, "Love Me Do": "I didn't even know the guy was coming. I'd had this fellow, Pete Best, and I didn't. . . I thought we could do better and I booked a good session drummer (Andy White) to replace him, and then the boys turn up with a fellow called 'Ringo Starr.' And they say, 'He's our new drummer.' And I said, 'No, no he's not. I booked this fellow. We're paying good money for this chap. I'll let your fellow in later on, but I want to be sure of this track.'"
Paul McCartney recalled that having a Ringo vocal on a Beatles album was done for the love of his fans: "We always wanted to include him in it, because, see, with the Beatles, we all had our little group of fans. And so we always thought it was a good idea to try and include at least one song from Ringo for his fans. We did have to sort of encourage him and say 'Come on, man, y'know. . .' And he got into it after a while. He was always very disparaging about his own singing, But, y'know, we'd write something like, 'With A little Help From My Friends,' and he'd. . . it's only Ringo that can sing that."
Ringo says that during the Beatles' whirlwind career, there was never a point where he paused to consider the long-term effect of the band on either his or their fans' lives: "Even though we felt 'Yes, we're established and we've conquered all these countries, and we're sellin' a lot of records and they all love us,' it was not a thought (that) it's going to end tomorrow -- (or) it's going to go on forever. I never had that thought. It was just happening now, y'know? It wasn't like making plans for the future. It was just on this roll and we were all in our early 20's and we were just going with it."
Ringo Starr was initially the most successful of the solo Beatles after the band broke up, enjoying seven straight Top Ten hits, including the 1973 Number Ones "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen."
Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney all contributed songs to Ringo's solo career, he says it was he and George Harrison who shared the most intimate creative connection: "We did 'It Don't Come Easy,' and 'Back Off Boogaloo,' and 'Photograph' all in a similar time. It was great! I mean, I was sellin' records, and makin' good music, and hanging out with a lot of good musicians, but everyone was like 'Oh! My God -- Ringo's Number One!' Y'know, 'cause they're all like 'Oh, John's Number One' -- fine, it's expected. But 'Ringo's Number One?!' It was really funny in its way because I was just out there doing music."
Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band will next perform on October 29th in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ringo is set to play two more U.S. dates this year, and will appear with the All Starrs on November 22nd and 23rd at Las Vegas' Palms Casino Resort.
Ringo current All Starr Band includes returning All Starrs Todd Rundgren, saxophonist Mark Rivera, Mr. Mister's Richard Page, and drummer Gregg Bissonette. New to Ringo's band are Santana and Journey co-founding keyboardist Gregg Rollie, and Toto's co-founding guitarist Steve Lukather.
Photo Courtesy of PRPhotos.com