Who Is Ringo ?

As we reviewed the various comments people have made about Ringo through the years, terms like "down-to-earth" and "nice" came up repeatedly. This is intended as a sampling of those who know, once knew, or interviewed Ringo, including Beatles manager Brian Epstein, longtime friend Harry Nilsson, wife Barbara Bach, former wife Maureen Tigrett, son Zak Starkey, Beatles records producer George Martin, drummers Max Weinberg and D. J. Fontana, and All-Starrs Nils Lofgren and Burton Cummings -- to name a few of those quoted here.

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"Three decades after he first shook his mop-top behind a cymbal and flashed that lop sided grin at the world, Ringo Starr has all but incorporated the word lovable into his name. Few figures in rock have made so many people smile and not through any excessive expense of effort. No. Ringo's secret is an amused who me acceptance of fame and fortune." -- journalist Ira Robbins of Newsday(7/15/95)

"He's very laid back and very generous. His idea is that you're not backup musicians playing Ringo songs, but a band that plays everybody's music as well as we can." -- Nils Lofgren, quoted in an interview with journalist Gary Graff of The Philadelphia Inquirer(July 1995). Nils toured with Ringo in 1992 and was the opening act for several concerts during the 1995 tour.

"About the most remarkable thing Ringo has is this unique and very funny way of looking at the world. He is absolute master of the one-liner. ... Ringo's quirky vision comes out particularly in his use of language." -- George Martin, producer of the Beatles' albums and author of Summer of Love(1994)

"Ringo Starr is easily the best known comic member of a rock band. A beat-steady drummer and an occasional vocal, Starr showed a natural comedic acting power." -- Don Quellette in Pulse magazine(Aug. 1994).

"He remains one of the most well-loved bit players in the checkered history of popular music. The consistent twaddle that he is in any way stupid or inept is just that. An engaging little man with a penchant for transforming the mundane into the magical, Starr may turn out to be the most subtlety brilliant of the lot. A sparkly bearded Buddha playing out this incarnation with humor and compassion." -- Geoffrey Guilliano in The Lost Beatle Interviews(1994).

"He just generates such good will, everybody always just always has great memories of Ringo. There wasn't anybody who had anything bad to say about him. They all laughed. They all had great stories they could remember. They all loved the guy. He has such a charm to him that he is just so likable. Everybody just loves him." -- Matt Hurwitz, who did the liner notes for Ringo's Old Wave and Stop and Smell the Roses, during a 1994 interview with Good Day Sunshine.

"Whatever happened between Rich and me, he's been a good father to our kids." -- Maureen Cox Starkey Tigrett in McCall's magazine (May 1993).

"As the Beatles matured musically, their position in the World of music, fashion, and politics increased, with that growth came power, and with that came the we-can-do-whatever-we-want activities. It was a time when the Fab Four were seen for what they really were -- mere mortals. Throughout that period, it was a rock-solid Ringo that helped anchor the group's image. It was his down-to-earth common sense and stability that, in the face of these public activities, kept the Beatles from flying out of orbit in much of the public view. ... As always, Ringo remains the most human. Perhaps from the one from whom the least was expected the most has been given. -- Ray Hardy, writing a review of Ringo Starr: Straight Man or Joker in Good Day Sunshine(1993)

"Dad is a fun guy to be around. I always have a laugh and a good time when I'm with him, but the thing I admire about him most is the way he cleaned up his act. . . . It took courage and bottle, real bottle, to face up to it and sort it out. We used to hang out together and have a beer and it's no different now, execpt we don't ahve the beer. We still have a laugh. The drink isn't necessary." -- Zak Starkey, Ringo's son (in a 1992 interview).

"The other Beatles may have reached greater individual heights, Ringo Starr is doing just fine, thank you. As the fuzzy headed drummer of the Beatles, he had no pretensions in the old days -- and he has no pretensions now. He is still a court jester without peer. Adding a colorful vaudevillian element to a business that sorely needs a jab in the ribs ... He hasn't lost his ability to entertain with a friendly geezer-like presence that would bring a smile to the most hopeless Scrooge." -- Steve Morris, writer for The Boston Globe(6/23/92).

"Ringo is, in the nicest sense, a clown with a warm and typically Liverpuddlian sense of humor." -- Ray Coleman on The Lost Lennon Tapes - #206(1992).

"Both in public and, it appears, privately Ringo's unassuming good-natured personality provided a crucial balance between John's razor sharp wit, Paul's stagy coyness, and George's somber posturing." -- Ted Greenwald in The Beatles Companion(1992).

"You realize now how much personality this guy has. He's charming to work for. He disarms any arrogance or condescension. There is no arrogance with this guy." -- Burton Commings, during an interview for In Concert(1992). He toured with Ringo in 1992.

"He had a genial expansive manner when dealing with people -- an all-embracing good natured disposition to the world at large, but he wasn't one to see his confidences betrayed. There was a pluckiness about him, a no-nonsense way of dealing with things as they came along. Ringo was a small guy with a big heart." -- photographer Robert Freeman, author of The Beatles: A Private View(1990)

"When Ringo lost his early inferiority complex within the Beatles, his natural humor emerged, usually in the form of witty one-liners, which even John Lennon found hard to follow. Unlike the others, he remained even-tempered and placid throughout the stormiest Beatlemania years. He avoided quarrels, demanded very little in terms of VIP attention, and there was never a trace of pretension or precariousness in his makeup." -- Tony Barrow in Bealtes Monthly(Feb. 1988)

"He's so kind. He's polite and nice to everyone. ... Richie can be stuborn. You can't fabricate charm, and Richie has charm. He's so loving and giving and generous, always thinking about others." -- Barbara Bach, Ringo's wife (in an interview during the mid-1980s).

"Of all the Beatles, it was fitting that Ringo would be the one to remain amicable terms with the others in the aftermath of the group's breakup, when the polar friction between John and Paul was strongest. He was, after all, always the innocent, the quiet one, the bloke who was always just doing his job and the least inclined toward politics in the group." -- Martin Torgoff in The Compleat Beatles(1985).

"Ringo was the home body, always less publicly visible than the others. To the world he was shy, soft, puerile, down-to-earth, funny, friendly, cute, lovable, vulnerable. Appropriately, the music his friends created for him, in addition to being perfectly tailored for his range and style embodied the above characteristics as well as reflected his tastes." -- Martin Torgoff in The Compleat Beatles(1985).

"I tell you Ringo was the nicest man in the world. We did basically all country tunes, and he did whatever the producer told him. A guy with his power could have said, "Yeah. Get the hell out of here," but he didn't. He said, "What do you want me to do." -- D. J. Fontana, a fellow drummer, said in The Big Beat (1984) by Max Weinberg.

"Richard Starkey's sense of humor has always enabled Ringo Starr to carry on. He's a funny man and his timing for a joke is as sharp as his drumming." -- Max Weinberg, author of The Big Beat(1984).

"He's one of the dearest friends you can have in life, and I hope he considers me one of his best friends." -- Harry Nilsson, as quoted by Geoffrey Giuliano in The Beatles: A Celebration(1984)Ringo is the godfather of some of Harry's children.

"Ringo turned out to be such a lovely fellow -- warm, unassuming, and down-to-earth as you please -- that one felt obliged to forgive him his ridiculous name and appearance." -- Pete Shotton in John Lennon: In My Life(1983). Sutton was a friend of John Lennon's.

"Ringo was the least demanding of the four, as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately, on the rare occasions when I got involved in doing things for Ringo, they would go disastrously wrong. I felt awful because he was so super about it, even when there was a nasty cock-up. . . . He was gentle, kind, had a slight inferiority complex, and self-effacing. I liked Ringo very much." -- Alistair Taylor in Beatles Monthly (June 1982).

"He remained placidly even tempered. By nature he was undemanding, kind and friendly ... Ringo was not a sad person. His face was molded into a deceptively unhappy expression. Until he made the muscles move into a deliberate smile." -- Tony Barrow in P.S. We Love You(1982).

"I think he was very important to the Beatles. I began by thinking he was just a passenger, but there was something about him that kept them on the rails. He did have a tremendous wisdom and stability of character which quite often was very important. . . . John said that in an argument all he had to do was really get Ringo on his side and that it would be all right." -- Philip Norman in Beatlefan magazine(1981).

"Ringo Starr was the humblest, most down-to-earth of the Beatles. Like the lovable runt of a litter, he seemed to stir a mother's instinct in female fans. ...Ringo changed the least, always the group's anchor, he remained the simplest and straight-forward of the four. -- Nicholas Scaffner, author of The Boys From Liverpool(1980).

"As Ringo's basic drum beat formed the solid backbone of the Beatles music, his easy going disposition provided the necessary balance in blending the Beatles personalities into a cohesive unit, and his warmth and good nature was the essence of the Beatles public image and was emphasized in the Beatles two motion pictures in which Ringo starred." -- Frieda, Titone, Weiner, authors of Beatles A to Z(1980).

"Above all, Ringo Starr has a refreshing down-to-earth sense of his place in the overall scheme of things. His outrageous sense of humor has not left him." -- Sue Russell in US magazine (1980).

"In a group designed to seem like lads from down the block, Ringo was the most down-to-earth, most genial of the lot. His ready smile was distinguishable from Paul's winning smile because Ringo's was not calculated, not a show biz posture but a genuinely happy expression. He fit the role of drummer symbolically as well as musically. The eye of the hurricane, he stood firm when the others seemed to be going off the deep end." -- John Swenson, author of The Beatles Yesterday and Today(1977).

"He came into his own in the movies, where his natural charm and natural gift for dead pan pathos made him come on like a cross between Buster Keaton and gigantic a stuffed spaniel. ... He held his own and maintained his dignity and self-respect in the company of geniuses -- and maintained their respect as well -- a singer. an actor, a drummer, and a gentleman. -- Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, authors of The Beatles Scrapbook(1976).

"The songs that were subsequently written for him always seemed to emphasize the affection which the others felt for him. With a Little Help From My Friends may have been composed with deliberate irony, but anyway it was the quintessential Ringo song. John and Paul had got Ringo down to a tee. He had such a winning affable personality and so many friends that his own failings were irrelevant since he never needed to do anything on his own." -- Jeremy Pascall, author of The Beatles Story(1974)

"Paul, and to a lesser extent George, slipped quietly toward the establishment. Lennon continues to feel he is the most enlightened Beatle; for the most part, he snatches at whatever is topical and attaches his name to it. Ringo remains a true working-class hero." -- Robert McCabe, author of Apple to the Core(1972)

"He has certainly remained the most approachable Beatle. One can still talk to him because as he says he has changed he still hasn't the barriers around himself." -- Johnny Dean, editor of Beatles Monthly (1969)

"I found Ringo a most sensitive soul both in the early days and now. Personally. . . . I doubt if Ringo is capable of a deep hatred of anything or anybody and once he gets to know you he is capably of a very deep loyalty that is unshaken by any kind of gossip. . . . I felt that Ringo was probably the most evenly happy Beatle. He accepted fan worship with a sunny appreciative smile. He didn't get hung up on way out things. Even the meditation era saw Ringo make the fastest get away to normality. . . . A very genuine down-to-earth fellow as he was before being lifted to the very pentacle of fame and fortune. Some of his off-the-cuff quips have had me doubled up with laughter." -- Peter Jones in Beatles Monthly (April 1969).

"His education was never completed at school or college, yet his intelligence is obviously at least average and his sense of humor is way above average. ... While John rushes from infatuation to infatuation and George skips from obsession to obsession and Paul churns out a continuous flow of creative thinking, Ringo stays in the background, avoids too much decision-making, falls in with group agreements, does his very adequate job behind the drums, and tries to lead as near normal a life as Beatle involvement will allow." -- Tony Barrow, Beatles Monthly (1969).

"Open, guileless, disarming, he will be one of those fortunate people who will be popular at whatever he does." -- Lewis Lister in Rave magazine (1969).

"Possibly Ringo is the bluntest and certainly the most proletarian of the Beatles -- "I am not thick," he defends himself, "I am just uneducated." It's apparently true for he seems less complicated but a good deal more mature than the others. Of all four, he gives the impression of being the most content, satisfied with life and grateful for what he has." -- Julius Fast, author of The Beatles: The Real Story(1968)

"His almost grateful attitude toward the fans is real. He is the waving type. He'll wave from planes, busses, anywhere. " Larry Kane, journalist (1968).

"He's completely open and friendly, the sweetest of them all really. . He's not self-centered in any way. . . ...Ringo is a much stronger personality than he has appeared." -- Hunter Davies, author of The Beatles(1968)

"He never takes credit for things. I think he often underestimates himself. He does forget what good ideas he has had, because he thinks he's not creative. He says it's for the others to have the good ideas, but he's good at many things. He's a good painter. I think films will be very good for him, so I hope they come off. He's great at all things. He's a lovely dancer." -- Maureen Starkey, wife of Richard Starkey, quoted in The Beatles by Hunter Davies (1968).

"Ringo, a thoroughly unpretentious fellow, is also the most innately comic temperament; he is the catalyst and the defoliator of the crew." -- Time magazine (1967)

"Ringo. He's cute. It's the only way to describe him." -- Mary "Aunt Mimi" Smith, John Lennon's aunt, said in 1964.(quoted in The Beatles in New Zealand(1993))

"He has become an excellent Beatle and a devoted friend. He is warm and dry witted, a good drummer and I like him enormously. He is a very uncomplicated, very nice young man." -- Brian Epstein in A Cellar Full of Noise(1964)

"Ringo is very kind. He is always willing to see fans and press reporters. He was immensely thrilled by his fantastic popularity in the United States." -- Diana Bero (Brian Epstein's secretary, quoted in Beatles Monthly, No. 17)

"Ringo is the character of the outfit. If as he claims he was educated at Butlins, he must have come under the influence of some mighty good teachers. He is self-sufficient, self-contained." -- Charles Hamblet, author of Here Are The Beatles(1964)

The End

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