Richard Starkey was born in a small two-story terraced house in the Dingle area of Liverpool, on July 7, 1940 to parents Elise and Richard Starkey Sr, making him the oldest Beatle, three months older than John. His father was originally a Liverpool dock worker, and later worked in a bakery where he met Ringo's mother. His parents divorced in 1943, where his mother received custody of him.
Richard went to St. Silas Infants' School where many illnesses plagued him. One time, a ruptured appendix, which became an inflamed peritoneum forced him to have the first of several operations. He went into a coma for two months, during which several more operations were made. One day after waking from his coma, he tried to hand a toy bus to the boy in the next bed. Richard fell over on the floor causing a concussion. It would be several more months before Ringo would leave Royal Children's Infirmary.
Returning to school was very difficult; he had tremendous amounts of work to make up and received a reputation of being stupid. At the age of thirteen, Richard caught a cold which turned into chronic pleurisy causing him to stay at Myrtle Street Hospital. Lung complications ensued which resulted in him staying at the Heswall Children's Hospital until 1955.
Around this time Elise had married Harry Graves who Ringo referred to as "Step Ladder". Young Ringo had a couple of jobs before his drumming career. He had a job as delivery boy for British Rail, and then took on a job as barman on a ferry to New Brighton before becoming a trainee joiner at Henry Hunt and Sons. His first drum kit came to him by way of Harry. The fire was now lit.
At an early age Richard began playing drums. He would bang on anything he could get his hands on. Ringo invented muffling drums. Before Ringo, drummers didn’t have dead ringers they just let the drums ring out. Ringo would put blankets or pillowcases in or on his drums. Ringo also popularized how drummers hold their sticks. Instead of using the traditional grip, Ringo used the matched grip and it became very popular.
Like the other Beatles, Richard also eventually became caught up in Liverpool's Skiffle craze. After starting his own group with Eddie Miles called The Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1957, he joined "Rory Storm & the Hurricanes". Rory Storm was a showman and he insisted that Richard add some flare to his act by giving him a new name. Ringo was adopted because of his fetish for rings and because it sounded “cowboyish” and last name Starr was adopted so that his drum solos could be billed at “Starr Time”.
The Hurricanes became one of the most popular groups in Liverpool and they topped the bill at Hamburg's Kaiserkeller club, above The Beatles. Ringo had thought about leaving The Hurricanes and joining another group called "The Seniors". After a brief lull period, Ringo decidedo fill the spot of drummer for The Hurricanes once again. Ringo, feeling like he was going nowhere, thought about taking up his apprenticeship at Hunt's again, but fate stepped in.
Every once in a while, when he was with Rory Storm, Ringo would fill in for Pete Best if he didn't show up. The Beatles had just signed with Parlophone and George Martin didn't like Pete as their drummer describing him bluntly as "not good". Ringo joined the Beatles on August 18, 1962. Rory Storm was magnanimous about the theft of his drummer, but Pete Best fans were upset, holding vigils outside Pete's house and rioting at the Cavern Club, shouting "Pete Best forever! Ringo never!"
Ringo finally was accepted as the 4th Beatle and at one time was the most popular member of the group with American fans. He also proved to be more of a natural actor than any other members of the group and received favorable reviews for his performance in "A Hard Day's Night". Because of this, Ringo was placed in the center of the spotlight in The Beatles second film "HELP!” Incidentally, “A Hard Day’s Night” originally called “Beatlemania” was derived from something that Ringo had said after a particularly long and grueling recording session.
Ringo married his long-time girlfriend Maureen Cox on February 11, 1965 and the couple was to have three children: Zak, Jason, and Lee. The couple divorced in July 1975. Ringo then married Barbara Bach.
Playing with The Beatles, Ringo at first had the same problem as George did which was getting his songs noticed. Mainly John and Paul would write a song or two for him to sing on a particular album. Such songs were: "Boys", "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Honey Don't", "Act Naturally", "What Goes On", "Yellow Submarine," and "With A Little Help From My Friends.” The two original compositions were "Don't Pass Me By", and "Octopus's Garden".
When the Beatles broke up, Ringo had a very successful solo career working with such people as: Harry Nilsson, BB King, Carly Simon and The Beach Boys. He also put out eight albums and thirteen singles. The first two albums were Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blues. The two non-album singles "It Don't Come Easy" in 1971 and "Back off Boogaloo" in 1972 hit the Top Ten. In 1973 he paired with producer Richard Perry and, with assistance from the three other ex-Beatles, made RINGO, which had two #1 hits, "Photograph", and "You're Sixteen." "Oh My My," a Top Ten hit, was also included. His 1974 record, Goodnight Vienna, which featured the hits "Only You," and "No No Song." Starr continued to release albums through 1981, but his success declined. His 1983 album Old Wave did not find a US distributor. Then in 1992 he released Time Takes Time.
Ringo also appeared in various TV shows, including his own special, "Ringo", a TV mini-series "Princess Daisy" with his wife Barbara, a cameo on the Simpson’s and voice-overs for the children's TV series "Thomas The Tank Engine" as well as acting for such films as: The Magic Christian, Blindman and Born to Boogie.
He experienced drinking problems, which resulted in him and Barbara attending a clinic. He reappeared on the scene sober with an All-Starr Band to tour America and Japan. It was so successful that he formed another All-Starr Band in 1992, which began an American and European tour in June 1992. Members comprised his son Zak, guitarists Dave Edmunds, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren and Joe Walsh, saxophonist Tim Cappello, bassist Timothy B. Schmit and keyboards player Burton Cummings. In 1997, he gave the All-Starr band another go ‘round. The band consisted of such musicians as Peter Frampton, Jack Bruce (of Cream fame), and Gary Brooker from Procol Harem.