Ringo Starr, MBE (born Richard Starkey; 7 July 1940) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He sang lead vocals for a song on most of the Beatles' studio albums, including "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine" and their version of "Act Naturally". He is also credited as a co-writer of "What Goes On" and "Flying", and as the sole author of "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden".
Starr was twice afflicted by life-threatening illnesses during his
childhood, and as a result of prolonged hospitalisations, fell behind
scholastically. In 1955, he entered the workforce and briefly held a
position with British Rail before securing an apprenticeship at a Liverpool equipment manufacturer. Soon afterwards, he became interested in the UK skiffle craze, developing a fervent admiration for the genre.
In 1957, he cofounded his first band, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group,
and they earned several prestigious local bookings before the fad
succumbed to American rock and roll by early 1958.
When the Beatles formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. After achieving moderate success with them in the UK and Hamburg, he quit the Hurricanes and joined the Beatles in August 1962, replacing Pete Best. Starr played key roles in the Beatles' films and appeared in numerous others. After their break-up in 1970, he released several successful singles including the US number one hits "It Don't Come Easy", "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen". He achieved commercial and critical success with his 1973 album Ringo,
which was a top ten hit in both the UK and the US. Although he
continued to record and remained a familiar celebrity presence, by 1975
his solo career had diminished in importance. He has been featured in a
number of documentaries, hosted television shows, narrated the first two
seasons of the children's television series Thomas & Friends and portrayed "Mr Conductor" during the first season of the PBS children's television series Shining Time Station. Since 1989, he has successfully toured with twelve variations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
Starr's creative contribution to music has received praise from drummers such as Phil Collins and Steve Smith,
who commented: "Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing
ability and virtuosity. Ringo's popularity brought forth a new
paradigm ... we started to see the drummer as an equal participant in
the compositional aspect ... His parts are so signature to the songs
that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music
and still identify the song." In 2011, Rolling Stone readers named Starr the fifth-greatest drummer of all time.