Ringo Starr, MBE (born Richard Starkey July 7, 1940) is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in August 1962, taking the place of Pete Best.
In addition to his contribution as drummer, Starr featured as lead vocals on a number of successful Beatles songs (in particular, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Yellow Submarine,” and the Beatles version of “Act Naturally”), as co-writer with the song “What Goes On” and solo writer with “Don't Pass Me By” and “Octopus's Garden.”
After the announcement of the break-up of the Beatles in April 1970, Starr released two albums before the end of that year. “Sentimental Journey” featured Starr's renditions of many pre-rock standards and included the arranger talents of Quincy Jones, Maurice Gibb, George Martin and Paul McCartney, among others. His next album, “Beaucoups of Blues,” put Starr in a country context, and included renowned Nashville session musician Pete Drake. He scored hit singles with the #4 “It Don't Come Easy” and #9 “Back Off Boogaloo.”
He participated in the Concert for Bangladesh organized by Harrison in 1971, as well as drumming on Harrison's “All Things Must Pass” and “Living in the Material World,” Lennon's “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” and Yoko Ono's early solo work. Starr then made his debut as a film director with the T. Rex documentary “Born to Boogie.”
The 1973 album “Ringo,” produced by Richard Perry, with participation by the other three former The Beatles on different tracks, was commercially successful. The album “Goodnight Vienna” followed the next year and was also successful. Hits and notable tracks from these two albums included “Photograph” (co-written with George Harrison) and “You're Sixteen” both reaching #1 on the U.S. charts, #5 “Oh My My” and #6 “I'm the Greatest” (written by John Lennon) from “Ringo,” and #6 “Only You (And You Alone)” and #3 “No No Song” from 1974's “Goodnight Vienna.”
In late 1975, these singles and others were collected for Starr's first greatest hits compilation,
“Blast from Your Past,” which was the last album released on Apple Records. Starr's recording career subsequently diminished in commercial impact, although he continued to record and remained a familiar celebrity presence.
Starr signed with Atlantic Records in the mid-1970s, and in 1976 the album “Ringo's Rotogravure” was released. Although yielding two minor hit singles, “A Dose of Rock 'n' Roll” and a cover of “Hey! Baby” the album achieved moderate sales and reached a respectable #28. This caused the label to revamp Starr's formula; the results were a curious blend of disco and 1970s pop.
The 1977 album “Ringo the 4th” was a commercial disaster, reaching no higher than #162 on the charts. Afterward, Starr soon signed with Portrait Records. His stint with Portrait began on a promising note as 1978 saw the release of “Bad Boy,” as well as a network TV special. However, neither was very popular, with “Bad Boy” reaching a disappointing #129 on the U.S. charts. Consequently, Starr did not release another album with Portrait Records.
In 1975, Starr founded his own record label called Ring O'Records, and four albums were released on the label between 1975 and 1978 as well as 16 singles by artists such as Bobby Keys, Carl Grossman, Colonel Doug Bogie, David Hentschel, Graham Bonnet, Suzanne, Johnny Warman, Rab Noakes and Dirk & Stig.
In 1980, Harrison wrote “All Those Years Ago” for Starr to sing on his album “Can't Fight Lightning,” later released as “Stop and Smell the Roses.” Harrison sang a rewritten version himself, including it on his 1981 album “Somewhere in England” following Lennon's murder. Starr, along with Paul and Linda McCartney, played on Harrison's version. “Stop and Smell the Roses” was a well-regarded album, but again did not sell particularly well.
During recording of “Stop and Smell the Roses,” Lennon had offered Starr a pair of songs to use on “Roses” – “Nobody Told Me" and “Life Begins at 40.” However, following Lennon's murder, Starr did not feel comfortable recording them. The former was released posthumously under Lennon's name on the album “Milk and Honey,” while the latter's painfully ironic lyrics kept it unissued until 1998's “John Lennon Anthology.”
In 1987, Starr drummed on the George Harrison song “When We Was Fab” from his album “Cloud Nine." The song, co-written by Harrison and Jeff Lynne, charted in the Top 30 in both the U.K. and the U.S.
In July 1989, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band gave their first performance to an audience of ten thousand in Dallas, Texas. The band consisted of Starr and a varying assortment of musicians who had been successful in their own right with popular songs at different times. The concerts interchanged Starr's singing, including selections of his The Beatles and solo songs, with performances of each of the other artists' well-known material, the latter incorporating either Starr or another musician as drummer.
The success of the initial All-Starr tour led to the release of “Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band,” a compilation of live performances from the tour, in the fall of 1990.
Starr released his first studio album in nine years with 1992's “Time Takes Time.” The album was produced by four of the top producers in music, Phil Ramone, Don Was, Jeff Lynne and Peter Asher, and featured guest appearances by various stars including Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson.
In 1998, he released two albums on the Mercury label. The studio album “Vertical Man” marked the beginning of a nine-year partnership with Mark Hudson, who produced the album and, with his band The Roundheads, formed the core of the backing group for the album. In addition, many famous guests joined on various tracks, including Martin, McCartney, and – In his final appearance on a Starr album before his death – Harrison. Most of the songs were written by Starr and the band.
“Ringo Rama” was released in 2003 and featured guest performances by the likes of Willie Nelson, Charlie Haden, Van Dyke Parks, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Shawn Colvin, Timothy B. Schmit, and Eric Clapton. With Harrison's late 2001 passing before “Ringo Rama” was started, Starr composed “Never Without You” in tribute to his friend, having Clapton perform the guitar solo duties. “Choose Love” followed in 2005 and featured s Billy Preston and Chrissie Hynde as its most notable guests.
In January 2008, the studio album “Liverpool 8,” produced by Dave Stewart, Mark Hudson and Starr himself, was released. Mark Hudson was the initial producer of the record but was replaced by Stewart after a falling out with Starr. In January 2010, he released his fifteenth studio album “Y Not.” Two years later, in January 2012, he released the album, “Ringo 2012” featuring contributions from Joe Walsh, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, Van Dyke Parks, Edgar Winter, Ann Marie Calhoun, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and others.