This Day in Music, August 18: Starr in The Beatles

By , Contributor

On this day in 1962, Ringo Starr made his debut with The Beatles at the Horticultural Society dance in Birkenhead, England, having had a two-hour rehearsal in preparation. This was the first appearance of The Beatles as the world would come to know them: John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

It must be hard being Ringo Starr. When you think, he’s best remembered for his eight short years with The Beatles. He’s done so much since then, but that’s all anybody wants to talk about.

We all know and love his dulcet tones on The Beatles songs “With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", and "Octopus's Garden". We sort of put up with knowing they’re the naff tracks on the albums, but it’s Ringo!

Starr has described himself as "your basic offbeat drummer with funny fills", technically limited by being a left-handed person playing a right-handed kit. He’s being modest; Ringo is a great drummer; his playing was an integral ingredient that made up The Beatles’ sound. From the early pop songs to the psychedelic and groundbreaking period, Ringo would always inject his own personality and playing on the tracks. Listen for yourself to “Strawberry Fields” or “Rain” while the reluctant drum solo he delivered on Abbey Road is perfect.

Phil Collins, who was himself influenced by Starr, said, “Ringo is vastly underrated. The drum fills on the song 'A Day in the Life' are very complex things. You could take a great drummer today and say, 'I want it like that.' He wouldn't know what to do.” In 2011, Starr was picked as the fifth best drummer of all time by Rolling Stone readers, behind drummers such as John Bonham and Keith Moon.

After the announcement of the break-up of The Beatles on 10 April 1970, Starr released two solo albums before the end of that year. Sentimental Journey featured Starr's renditions of many pre-rock standards and included the arranging talents of Quincy Jones, Maurice Gibb, George Martin, and McCartney, among others. His next album, Beaucoups of Blues, put Starr in a country context. He scored hit singles with "It Don't Come Easy" in 1971 (US #4) and "Back Off Boogaloo" in 1972 (US #9), the latter of which was his biggest UK hit, peaking at #2. He achieved two No.1 hits in the US, with "Photograph" (co-written with Harrison) and "You're Sixteen."

Starr has also fronted his All-Starr band since 1990, touring the US to sold-out crowds. The All-Starr band have included some great players: Joe Walsh, Dr. John, Billy Preston, The Band's Levon Helm and Rick Danko, Nils Lofgren, Clarence Clemons, Peter Frampton, Edgar Winter, Todd Rundgren, Dave Edmunds, Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles), and Jim Keltner.

He was the voice behind the children’s TV series Thomas The Tank Engine, and he appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial. Starr also had a mad moment when in 2008, he posted a video on his website stating that he would not be signing autographs after 20 October 2008. He stated that he was too busy and that anything after that date sent to any address will not be signed. He also upset the people of Liverpool after saying he missed nothing about his home city.

Anyway, Richard Starkey, we are so pleased you decided to join John, Paul, and George all those years ago. Between you, you changed the face of popular culture as we know it, but you don’t need me to tell you that. And you were the best actor in The Beatles!

Ringo, we still love you.

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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