Happy 64th, our Ringo Jul 10 2004
http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0800 ... bjectid=14
By Peter Grant, Liverpool Echo
'WHEN I'm 64' sang Ringo - and this week it happened for the Beatles
drummer, reports Peter Grant.
BILL Harry, editor of MerseyBeat newspaper, has recently completed
the final part of his Fab Four jigsaw.
The author of the John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison
biographies has now published the Ringo Starr encyclopaedia, covering
the life and career of the Dingle-born drummer and oldest moptop.
Say Bill: "It's a Ringo year, indeed. He has his book Postcards out
in October, with money going to charity. And Mark Hannan, an American
fan from Ohio, is funding a special brass plaque, designed by
Liverpool's Fred O'Brien, to be placed at Ringo's childhood home at
10 Admiral Grove on August 27.
"They have asked me to unveil it and it'll be a pleasure because I
always remember Ritchie - as the other Beatles called him - with
In Ringo's first days with the Beatles he felt very much the new boy
and it was mainly George who worked on John and Paul to accept him.
They gradually did, although some of the comments they made about him
at times sounded as if they considered him to be some sort of comic
Says Bill: "I remember one time when the national press accused John
of calling Ringo ugly.
"John wrote me a letter, explaining that a fan had sent them drawings
of each of them. He looked at the picture of Ringo, which was almost
a caricature, and said, 'Isn't he ugly?' and was actually referring
to the bad drawing and not to Ringo himself."
And when John was asked if Ringo was the best drummer in Liverpool,
he remarked: "He isn't even the best drummer in The Beatles."
Ringo really came into his own when the Fab Four arrived in America
and he suddenly found himself to be the most popular Beatle in the
New World, which led to Brian Epstein remarking that "America
His engaging sense of humour came across during the first American
press conference when he was asked: "Ringo, why do you wear two rings
hand?" and he replied "Because I can't fit them through my nose."
And when asked "How do you find America?" he quipped "We went to
Greenland and made a left turn."
Bill says the affection for Ringo was evident from day one. There
were more than 50 tribute records about him, including What's Wrong
With Ringo? by the Bon Tons (who later changed their name to the
Shangri La's) and Ringo Ringo by Daws Butler (the voice of
Huckleberry Hound). Even Rolf Harris recorded Ringo For President.
Says Bill: "For me, of all the Beatles, Ringo was the one who made
the most remarkable journey in becoming one of the most famous men on
"He was born in extreme poverty, deserted by a father when he was
three and reared by a single parent who lavished love on him, but had
to struggle to make ends meet with a job as a barmaid at the Empress
pub in the Dingle."
Ringo suffered extreme ill health and nearly died. He was in a coma
for three months, spent years in hospitals, had barely any schooling
and seemed likely to live his whole life in poverty.
His mum paid a young neighbour, Mary Maguire, to teach him to read
because of his lack of schooling and when he did return to school
after another bout of illness, the other kids called him 'Lazarus'.
Bill says: "Small in stature, Ringo didn't have conventional good
looks at a time when pretty faces were in vogue, particularly in
showbusiness, and he was often the butt of jokes.
"What he did have, despite all that had happened to him, was a gentle
nature, one that wasn't poisoned by anger at his early poor fortune.
He was someone whose cup was half full rather than half empty. He had
a ready sense of humour and his Ringoisms were to inspire the Beatles
in years to come.
"It is a remarkable rags to riches story. A small youth plagued by
ill health, and apparently no prospects, rose above it all, mixing
with the elite, complete with two loving sons and a daughter, married
for the second time to a beautiful film star, Barbara Bach, with
mansions and houses in Monte Carlo, England and Los Angeles,
successfully performing the music he loves with musicians he respects
with The Ringo All Starr band."
And Bill believes Ringo has sex appeal: "I can well understand how,
despite not having the conventional good looks, he had the
personality, humour and warmth which were probably far more appealing
"When he found love, it was constant, particularly in the
relationship with his second wife Barbara, who sees, like a lot of
people before her, that the inner Ritchie is a unique and loving
person who has found a deserved place in the scheme of things."
IT was 40 years ago today - July 10, 1964 - which saw one of the most
heart-warming home-comings in Beatle history.
The lads were in town to celebrate the Liverpool premiere of A Hard
Day's Night at the Odeon cinema in London Road, which brought Ringo's
acting talents to the critics' attention and ensured a movie career
for the "natural actor".
Mark Lewisohn, author of The Complete Beatles Chronicle, says it was
a stunning display of fan worship on the day.
He said: "More than 200,000 people spent some part of the day
greeting the group - a reception that meant a lot to John, Paul,
George and Ringo in their home town."
Television cameras followed the Beatles' every move and they made
news bulletins the world over.
And Mark says that their sense of fun never deserted them, especially
mischievous Mr Lennon: "John treated the massed crowd to 'Sieg Heil'