ARISE, Sir Ringo!

The news has leaked that Ringo Starr is to receive a knighthood for services to music and charity in the New Year Honours List.

At the age of 77, he will become the second of The Beatles to be knighted after Sir Paul McCartney, some 52 years after the Fab Four were honoured by the Queen with MBEs. John Lennon famously sent his back to Buckingham Palace in 1969 in protest against Britain’s support of America in the Vietnam war and over UK involvement in the “Nigeria-Biafra thing”, as he called the civil war in that country.


RINGO coined the phrase A Hard Day’s Night, which became the title of The Beatles’ No.1 hit. His fine comedic performance in the film of the same name showed that he could act, sing and play his drums, about which more later. It also showcased his outgoing personality, and he went on to have the central role in the second Beatles film, Help!

With his distinctive large nose and cheeky grin, Starr looked different from the other three Beatles even under their moptops, and he was also much given to “Ringoisms”, malapropisms that were actually lyrical. Tomorrow Never Knows and Eight Days a Week were other Ringoisms.

In short, he had a distinctive personality which no drumkit could hide.


BORN Richard Starkey in Liverpool in 1940, he had a troubled childhood, twice surviving illnesses that were often fatal in those days – peritonitis caused by appendicitis and tuberculosis. His father, also Richard, left the family and Starr was raised by his mother Elsie and stepfather Harry Graves, of whom he was very fond. Graves encouraged Starr’s growing musical awareness as a teenager. From the outset he was interested only in drumming and percussion, and he largely taught himself the basics.

His illnesses hampered his education and he left school early, doing a couple of dead-end jobs before Graves secured him an apprenticeship as a machinist where he worked alongside Roy Trafford, a huge fan of skiffle music. They soon joined a skiffle band, with Starr playing the washboard before Graves bought him proper drums.

Ringo was soon a key member of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, an up-and-coming Liverpool band who went to Hamburg in 1960 for a club residency where Ringo, who had changed his name while with the Hurricanes, first met the other Beatles.

Original Beatles drummer Pete Best was fired in the summer of 1962 and John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were adamant that they wanted Starr. Thus the Fab Four was born.


STARR really could play the drums as well as anybody in the 1960s music scene. His back beat was renowned and he is regularly named in lists of the top ten drummers of all time.

He knew the basics of songwriting and proved it as a Beatle with Octopus’s Garden, while he was lead vocalist on Yellow Submarine and With a Little Help from My Friends.

As The Beatles began to drift apart, Starr became more and more involved in film acting, playing everybody from the Pope in Lisztomania to the lead role in slapstick comedy Caveman. It was on the set of the latter film in 1981 that he met Barbara Bach, the model and actress who had played opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me. Starr was divorced from his first wife Maureen Cox, and he and Bach have been together ever since. Their joint creation of charity The Lotus Foundation is part of the reason for Starr’s knighthood.


NOT unless you count two of the biggest-selling singles of the 1970s, Photograph and You’re Sixteen, a string of albums over the last 40 years, owning his own record label, and making countless guest appearances on other musicians’ albums. He has twice been inducted in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, once as a Beatle and once in his own right.

He is still idolised as a Beatle – Liverpool Council wanted to knock down the building in which he grew up, but after a huge outcry from Beatles fans they had to take it down brick by brick and rebuild it elsewhere.