By Joe Cuhaj
I’ll admit it. I’m a Beatles fan. Lines from their movies pop out of my mouth during conversations. I bore people with Beatle facts when something even remotely related to the band is mentioned.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not as rabid as the character Richard “Ringo” Klauss was in the Steven Spielberg movie, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, inanely spouting answers to trivia questions trying to win tickets to see the Fabs on the Ed Sullivan Show.
With Ringo Starr preparing to visit Morristown on June 27, I was asked to present a few little known Ringo facts so that you, too, can amaze your friends. I apologize to those Richard Klausses out there who already know this, but play along, won’t you? So, here we go:
- Ringo’s first gig was with another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The band called his drum solos Starr-Time.
- Ringo was the first to play the character of Mr. Conductor on the PBS children’s show Shining Time Station. The show also featured Ringo telling the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine to America’s kids. He was replaced the second season by his conductor cousin, comedian George Carlin.
- According to Ringo, the song Back Off Boogaloo was inspired by T-Rex guitarist, singer, and songwriter Marc Bolan, whose catch phrase became the title of the song. Ringo says he dreamed the beat and lyric to the song after spending a lot of time with Bolan. When he woke up he tried to record the song on a cassette recorder but the batteries were dead so he stole some from his kids’ toys.
- The idea for Octopus’ Garden came to Ringo during a trip to Sardinia where he had calamari at a restaurant. The waiter explained to him how some species build “rock gardens” (walls of rock) to protect themselves and poof, a song was born.
- Ringo was the first Beatle to split from the band. As the story goes, in 1968 he decided to call it quits and rang the others with the news. He told Paul: “You guys are so tight, I just don’t fit in,” to which Paul replied: “I thought it was me?” He called George, who replied, “I thought it was me!” He finally called John, who gave the same response: “I thought it was me!” Reluctantly, Ringo returned to the studio and found his drum kit smothered in flowers as a welcome-home gesture.
- Born Richard Starkey, Ringo Starr’s doppelganger in The Rutles was Barry Wom, born as Barrington Womble.
- Ringo is the only ex-Beatle not in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame for his solo career. (That needs to be changed!)
- Ringo has had more solo U.S. hits than any other ex-Beatle. (Sorry, Sir Paul. Wings don’t count for this quiz!)
- Ringo accepted the role of Locke Walls in the CBS television network’s soap opera Guiding Light but backed out at the last minute and was replaced by actor Jeremy Slate.
- The first song Ringo had a hand in writing was What Goes On, featured on the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album.
- Ringo’s unique drumming style is attributed to his being left-handed but playing right-handed, which gives his playing some unusual breaks.
- Ringo became the first Beatle grandfather with the birth of his son Zak’s daughter, Tatia.
- His brother-in-law is guitarist Joe Walsh who is married to Ringo’s wife Barbara Bach’s sister, Marjorie.
Ringo’s All-Starr Band in Morristown is Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Journey, Santana), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera and Gregg Bissonette. Todd Rundgren talks with us about Ringo and the Beatles in this podcast.
Mahwah native Joe Cuhaj is arguably the world’s second-best lefty drummer, after Ringo, his idol. Joe is an author of nature guides in his adopted home state, Alabama, and a history of baseball in Mobile. His next book will explore the cultural impact of the space race.