Sir Ringo Starr turns 80 on Tuesday (July 7), a momentous occasion that will be celebrated with a YouTube concert to honour The Beatles’ legacy and fundraise for groups including Black Lives Matter. Live performances and unseen footage will be broadcast during ‘Ringo’s Big Birthday Show’ thanks to “a little help” from his friends including Sir Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow and others. The drummer joined The Beatles after Pete Best was sacked in 1962 and while fans were initially displeased with the line-up change they soon grew to adore the musician. Unearthed accounts from the band’s formative years reveal the story behind his nickname ‘Ringo’ and the previous monikers he had too.
Sir Ringo Starr, born Richard Starkey Jr, was first known as “Ritchie” – a shortening from his adoring mother Elsie.
Later, he would be known as “Rings” because of his penchant for wearing a lot of jewellery – most notably on his fingers, according to a 2017 MentalFloss article.
He later settled on “Ringo” because it sounded a bit more like a “cowboy” after he became passionate about country and western music.
Before the drummer joined The Beatles, he played for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes where his solos were dubbed “Starr time” – a twist on his last name.
In the 2000 book ‘The Beatles Anthology’, George Harrison reportedly felt “it was apparent” that Ringo had to join them.
He realised: “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 realised, ‘We should get Ringo in the band full time.'”
Paul was reported to have thought that the band needed “the greatest drummer in Liverpool” to be a success and concluded they had found him.