Happy Birthday to Ringo Starr, who turns 72-years-old in Saturday (July 7th)!!! Ringo & his All Starr Band will perform tonight (July 6th) at Atlanta's Fox Theatre and Ringo will ring in his birthday during his show on Saturday at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Earlier this year, Ringo released his 17th solo studio album, the critically acclaimed, Ringo 2012. 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.
With nearly 12 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."
Back in 2008, on his 68th birthday, during his appearance to CNN's Larry King Live, Yoko Ono called in to serenade the legendary Beatles drummer with a rendition of "Happy Birthday." She ended the song wither her signature vibrato "Yoko voice" which Ringo lightheartedly imitated. "(sings) Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Ringo. Happy birthday to you. And many more."
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.'" 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."
George's widow Olivia Harrison says that George and Ringo shared a truly deep and loving relationship: "If you were his friend, you were his friend, and he gave everything. Y'know, you weren't sort of a friend, or y'know, kind of a friend. If you were in his world, that was it, you had the 'A' key to everything. But of course Ringo was probably his best friend."
Ringo was the only Beatle to perform on solo albums by all the other former Beatles, adding percussion to John Lennon's 1969's single "Give Peace A Chance," and drumming on both the '69 followup "Cold Turkey" and his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. Ringo went on to play on four of Paul McCartney's albums, and on seven of George Harrison's solo albums.
Ringo was the focal point of the Beatles' first two movies, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965), and embarked on a solo acting career in 1967 and eventually appeared in 10 films, including The Magic Christian (1969), That'll Be The Day (1973), and Caveman (1981). He teamed up with McCartney again for the short The Cooler (1981) and McCartney's 1984 big-budget flop Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984).
Paul McCartney -- who surprised Ringo onstage in New York City in 2010 during his 70th birthday concert -- told us that while compiling his recent McCartney Years DVD featuring his solo videos, he was particularly fond of several clips that featured Ringo: "'Take It Away,' it's lovely to see him and 'Beautiful Night' -- he very kindly agreed to be the drummer in those, he'd done 'Take It Away.' It was just fabulous, y'know (Beatles producer) George Martin even appears in one of them." In 1984 Ringo became a star to a whole new generation, thanks to his role of "Mr. Conductor" on the PBS children's program Thomas The Tank Engine And Friends.
After years of substance abuse, Ringo entered rehab in 1989, returning to the road later that year with his ever-changing All Starr Band. He has toured regularly ever since.
In 1995 he reunited with Paul McCartney and George Harrison for The Beatles Anthology.
He has been married twice, first to Liverpool hairdresser Maureen Cox, from 1965 to 1975. The couple had three children, Zak, Jason, and daughter Lee. His oldest son, 46-year-old Zak Starkey, has drummed for the Who since 1996 and is considered among the top rock drummers of his generation.
In April 1981 Ringo married actress Barbara Bach, who co-starred with him in Caveman. Bach's sister Marjorie is currently married to Ringo's close friend, former producer, and original All Starr Band-mate Joe Walsh.
Starr has released 16 solo studio albums since 1970.
His 1976 album, Ringo's Rotogravure, was the last album to feature all-new material written by all four ex-Beatles. The album also marked the last time that John Lennon entered a recording studio prior to his five-year retirement to become a "house husband."