Happy Birthday Ringo Starr: Celebrating the Legendary Beatles’ Musician’s 81st

by Amy Myers

As the drummer of the legendary Beatles, Ringo Starr has much to celebrate over his lifetime. Today, he turns 81 years old.

In honor of the rock-pop star, we’d like to take a look back at how he joined The Beatles and became the star he is today.

Ringo Starr Was Originally a Band Substitute

Before the world knew him as Ringo Starr, he was Richard Starkey, drummer for the Liverpool rock band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr met The Beatles in 1960 in Hamburg, Germany, where he was performing with his band.

After becoming more acquainted with the band members, acted as the fill-in for then-drummer, Pete Best, when he couldn’t make the shows. However, in 1962, producer George Martin informed The Beatles that they needed to replace Best. They had only one drummer in mind that they wanted to join the band.

That same year, Starr replaced Best for good, completing the foursome of mop-headed, talented boys. His new name came to fruition because of his infatuation with large, statement rings and his quick rise to stardom.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Ringo Starr has fellow Beatles member George Harrison to thank for his permanent spot in the band.

“To me it was apparent,” Harrison said. “Pete kept being sick and not showing up for gigs so we would get Ringo to sit in with the band instead, and every time Ringo sat in, it seemed like ‘this is it.’ Eventually, we realized, ‘We should get Ringo in the band full time.'”

Paul McCartney was just as supportive of the decision.

“We really started to think we needed ‘the greatest drummer in Liverpool,'” McCartney said. “And the greatest drummer in our eyes was a guy, Ringo Starr…”

Starr Struggled to Feel Like a Permanent Part of The Beatles

However, even with the seal of approval from the three other band members, Ringo Starr still struggled to feel accepted in the eyes of fans and producers.

Early fans notoriously mourned the exit of The Beatles’ original drummer, chanting and raising signs that read, “Peter Forever, Ringo Never.”

At the same time, producers were unsure of Starr’s professional capabilities. During the recording of the 1962 hit song, “Love Me Do,” producers gave Starr a tambourine instead of a pair of drum sticks. They instead opted to use a drummer named Andy White for the track. Starr, forlorn yet dedicated to the band, dutifully played the elementary instrument.

However, through determination and pure talent, Ringo Starr eventually won over both fans and producers. There was no dramatic moment in which the world accepted Starr as the fourth and final member of The Beatles. Instead, Starr allowed the world to fall in love with his puppy-dog eyes and steady hand on the drums.

Needless to say, it didn’t take very long for people to say, “Pete who?”