He paid his dues because he wanted to sing the blues, and more than any other rock ‘n’ roll drummer, Ringo Starr knew that fame didn’t come easy.
Sure, he achieved stardom as a member of The Beatles, who took England by storm in 1963 and followed it up by spearheading the “British Invasion” to the United States in 1964. But the man born Richard Starkey Jr. in Liverpool on July 7, 1940, was a sickly child who spent a year in the hospital due to peritonitis and two years in a sanitarium for pleurisy.
The oldest Beatle has led a charmed life. Here are some fun facts about Ringo:
His nickname came from his penchant for wearing several rings.
Starr played drums for several bands in Liverpool before joining the Beatles, most notably with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes from 1959 to 1962.
He joined the Beatles on Aug. 18, 1962, replacing Pete Best.
When the Beatles went into the EMI studios on Sept. 4, 1962, to record their first single, “Love Me Do,” producer George Martin was unhappy with Starr’s ability, He subsequently hired session drummer Andy White to play on the single, Rolling Stone reported.
Starr was called upon in several Beatles albums to take the lead vocal, including “Boys” on the band’s debut album in Britain, “I Wanna Be Your Man” on “With the Beatles,” “Act Naturally” on “Rubber Soul” and “Yellow Submarine,” on “Revolver.” On the band’s seminal work, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Starr was the lead singer on “With A Little Help From My Friends.”
Starr had his first writing credit with the Band on the song “Flying” from “Magical Mystery Tour.” All four Beatles received songwriting credits for this instrumental. Starr’s first self-penned composition came on the White Album, “Don’t Pass Me By.” His second came on “Abbey Road” with “Octopus’ Garden.”
As a solo artist, Starr hit No. 1 in Canada and No. 4 in the United States with his 1970 song, “It Don’t Come Easy.” Starr performed the song at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971, but forgot some of the lyrics during the live show and mumbled them.
Other Starr hits include “Photograph,” “You’re Sixteen” (both No. 1 hits in 1973), “Only You,” “The No No Song” and “Back Off Boogaloo.”
Starr has appeared in 15 films, beginning with “Candy” in 1968 and “The Magic Christian” the following year. He met his future wife, Barbara Bach, on the set of “Caveman,” which was released in 1981.
Starr was nominated for 27 Grammy Awards and won nine times during his career. He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award as a member of the Beatles.
He won an Academy Award in 1971 for Best Musical Score with his Beatles bandmates for “Let It Be.”
On Jan. 20, 1988, Starr and the other Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was inducted as a solo artist on Apr. 18, 2015.
On Dec. 17, 2017, Starr became the second Beatle knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Paul McCartney was knighted by the queen in 1996.
Information from wire services and Ringo Starr’s website was used in compiling this report.