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About Ringo Starr

As The Beatles’ resident court jester, Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey, on July 7, 1940, in Liverpool, England) was initially known as much for his jokes as his drumming, shooting off one-liners to the press as effortlessly as he triggered the rapid-fire tom-tom rolls that open “She Loves You.” And his rare lead-vocal turns—whether the droll reading of Buck Owens’ country standard “Act Naturally” or the kid-friendly fantasia of “Yellow Submarine”—only amplified that playful personality. But as The Beatles transitioned from teen idols to experimental artists, Ringo’s backbeats formed the rock-solid foundation from which John Lennon leapt into psychedelic surrealism, Paul McCartney built his cinematic art-pop suites, and George Harrison explored Eastern mysticism. Whenever you hear a rock band described as “Beatlesque,” they’re often emulating one of Ringo’s bouncing-ball grooves; artists like the Beastie Boys and The Chemical Brothers retrofitted his most booming breaks for the rap/rave age. While Ringo may have continued to cultivate the image of jovial entertainer in his solo work, there’s still so much more complexity behind his humor. He uses it as a balm on the 1973 hard life lesson “It Don’t Come Easy,” which he cowrote with Harrison, and he gives voice to Lennon’s bitingly sardonic lyrics on “Goodnight Vienna” and “I’m the Greatest.”