Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr, the world's most famous drummer, turns 76 years old today. A 76-year-old Beatle? Does anyone else out there feel as old as me?
Some call Ringo Starr the luckiest guy in history. Others call him the greatest drummer in rock history. Not only was Ringo an awesome drummer, but his great wit and easygoing personality helped define the Beatles. There is just no way the Beatles would ever have been "the Beatles" without the great Ringo.
Ringo is the oldest Beatle (three months older than John), the shortest Beatle (5' 8") and the last to join the band. Okay, let's take a look at a few facts you may not have known about the one and only Mr. Ringo Starr.
1. He was a very sickly child. Ringo spent a majority of his youth in hospitals and sanatoriums because of severe bouts with pleurisy and tuberculosis. He learned to play the drums by drumming in a hospital band in his ward.
2. At the age of six, Ringo's developed appendicitis. His appendix burst and he was in a coma for ten weeks.
3. Ringo was so sick as young boy, three times his doctors told his mother he wouldn't survive the night. He was indomitable and did survive. Because of his incredible ability to survive, his grandfather's nickname for him was “Lazarus.”
4. He underwent several operations for his ill health. The other Beatles never knew about his health history until all four were swimming together one day and the others saw all the operation scars on Ringo's stomach.
5. Ringo suffers from many different allergies. He also has a very weak stomach. He hates and won't eat tomatoes, onions, Chinese food or any spicy foods.
6. He also hates motorcycles, traveling early in the morning, and setting up his drums in a hurry.
7. He hates shaving too. This is the reason he has almost always sported a beard or mustache after the Beatles stopped touring in 1966.
8. He chose the Beatles over the Dominoes. Ringo was offered to join the Beatles in August of 1962. He got another offer from another local band called the Dominoes at the same time. The Beatles offered him more money (25 pounds a week to the Dominoes’ offer of 20 pounds.)
9. In 1961, a year before he joined the Beatles, Ringo and a friend actually tried to emigrate to America. They wrote to the state of Texas about leaving England and moving there. According to Ringo, there were just too many forms to sign and they abandoned the idea.
10. In 1964, when the Beatles first came to America, Ringo was actually the most popular Beatle. At least he received the most fan mail of the four.
11. He was the first Beatle to leave the group. Frustrated during the sessions for The Beatles (the White Album) sessions in August of 1968, Ringo left the group and went for a holiday in Sardinia. It was there that he wrote his biggest hit for the Beatles “Octopus' Garden.” When he returned, his drums were coated with flowers (they were put there by George).
12. Ringo was the first Beatle to smoke marijuana. On August 28, 1964, the Beatles were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan at the Delmonico hotel in New York. It was Ringo who took the first puff of the infamous weed after being offered a hit by Dylan.
13. He is the only Beatle who was never busted for drugs. Ringo recorded a radio spot against "dangerous drugs" in the 1970's.
14. Sometimes he'd have to follow the Fab Four's rear ends. During several Beatle concerts, the noise grew so loud from the screaming fans, Ringo couldn't hear his comrades singing. He developed a technique where he would watch the other three's rear ends as they moved during concerts, and would use this as a barometer to drum and keep the beat.
15. In 2002, Mr. Richard Starkey was inducted into the prestigious Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. Ringo joined fellow inductees Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and William Ludwig (Ringo always uses Ludwig drum kits.)
16. In 2015, Ringo was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the Beatles had been inducted as a group in 1988). But now Ringo was (finally) elected on his own
(YouTube link) Drummers salute Ringo Starr. NSFW language.
Not too shabby for the world's most famous, beloved, and influential drummer. Happy Birthday, Ringo!