This week saw two important milestones in Beatles history.
John and Paul Meet For the First Time…
On July 6, 1957, 16-year-old John Lennon met 15-year-old Paul McCartney. John was performing with a skiffle group called the Quarrymen at a garden fete of St. Peter’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool. Paul’s classmate from Liverpool Institute Ivan Vaughan, who sometimes played tea-chest bass for the Quarrymen, introduced him to John.
Paul and John chatted with each other for some time. Paul noticed that John’s guitar was out of tune and showed him how to tune it. He also sang a few songs to John. Both were impressed of each other from the get-go.
Later on, John and Pete Shotton, who played washboard for the Quarrymen, were talking about Paul and decided he’d be a great addition to the band. About two weeks later, Pete ran into Paul in the street and invited him to join the Quarrymen. After thinking about the invitation, Paul agreed.
It would take another year and a half before John, Paul, Stuart Sutcliffe (a friend of John’s from art school) and George Harrison (one of Paul’s friends) would become The Beatles. During a residency in Hamburg, Pete Best joined the band as a drummer. He was replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962.
Happy Birthday, Ringo…
On July 7, Richard Starkey, known professionally as Ringo Starr, turned 76 years. Ringo was born in Dingle, Liverpool in 1940. He was initially introduced to music by Roy Trafford in 1957 and played the washboard in a skiffle band. That same year, Ringo’s step father Harry Graves gave him a crude second-hand drum kit as a Christmas present. By late 1959, Ringo was playing the drums in Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, which became one of Liverpool’s leading bands. At that time, he adopted his stage name, Ringo Starr.
Ringo first met The Beatles in Hamburg in October 1960, where The Hurricanes were doing a residency just like The Beatles. He subsequently performed with them during a few stand-in engagements there. On October 15, 1960, he recorded with John, Paul and George for the first time as back-up band for Hurricanes singer Lu Walters. It would take close to two more years before Ringo would join The Beatles to complete the band’s classic line-up.
I think Ringo’s contributions to The Beatles are sometimes under-appreciated. Yes, he did not as write and sing as many songs as John and Paul or George for that matter. But he sang lead on With a Little Help From My Friends and Yellow Submarine, two of the band’s signature songs. He also wrote Don’t Pass Me By and one of my favorite Beatles tunes, Octopus’s Garden. And he has co-writing credits for What Goes On and Flying.
Ringo’s drumming has also gained recognition. In 1998, he was inducted in the publication Modern Drummer’s Hall of Fame. He was named the fifth greatest drummer of all time by the readers of Rolling Stone in 2011. Ringo was also inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hame of Fame: as a Beatle in 1988, accepting the honor together with George Harrison and Yoko Ono (representing John Lennon), and as a solo artist in 2015 – making him one of 21 performers who have been inducted more than once.
Just like Paul, Ringo is still going strong. On March 31, 2015, he released Postcards from Paradise, his 18th studio album. He also continues to perform with his All-Star Band. Drum on, Ringo!