Tuesday, July 1, 2014

7 Days of Starr Day 1- Parents, Childhood, Illness

To honor the worlds greatest drummer, seven short days in July will be dedicated about the life, wives, and legacy of Ringo Starr, as done with 9 Days of Lennon, 25 Days of Harrison, and 18 Days of McCartney.

Ringo and Elsie
7 July, 1940 Richard Starkey was born at 9 Madryn Street, Liverpool 8 to Elsie Gleave and Richard; 
“There was a light at the end of a tunnel and I had to get to, and I came out like that, and then I was born. There was lots of cheering. In fact my mother used to say that because I was born, the Second World War started. I don’t know what that meant, really; I never understood it, but that’s what she used to say.  I suppose it was the only way they could celebrate, and it could be true-you never can tell.”-Ringo Starr, Anthology
 His parents worked together at a bakery and were married in 1936; the couple lived in a six room home in a rough, poor section of the city known as Dingle where their only child was born. Elsie and Richard both enjoyed singing and dancing but after their son was born their usual outings came to a halt as Elsie took the role of a protective mother.  At age three his father left them and only reconnected with him about five times,
 “I have no real memories of my dad. I only saw him probably five times after he left, and I never really got on with him because I’d been brainwashed by my mother about what a pig he was. I felt angry that he left.” -Ringo Starr, Anthology
He and his mother moved to 10 Admiral Grove, only a street over from where he was born, soon after his father left.  Admiral Grove had two bedrooms, one for his mother and one for himself. His grandparents, his father’s parents, lived on Madyrn Street and would have a close relationship with Ritchie, as he was now called.
"My grandmother was a big woman, Annie (I never called her Annie, of course), and my granddad was a little guy. He’d maybe have a drink or whatever and get into things, and she would roll her sleeves up, clench her fists, take up a boxing pose and say, ‘Come on, Johnny! Don’t talk to me like that – get over here, you little bastard.’ A big girl, she was, scrubbing steps and all, surviving.”-Ringo Starr, Anthology

 His grandfather was born a Parkin but his mother remarried when he was a kid to a man with the last name Starkey, the Ringo Starr we know today is actually a blood Parkin, not a Starkey. John Parkin Starkey was a character, throughout the whole war he would sit in this one chair. The world could be ending and he’d sit in his chair which lead to Ritchie being curious about the chair and would sit in it, 
“He’d come in, and he would only point and I’d have to move. But, of course, because it was his, it was the only thing I wanted.”-Ringo Starr, Anthology
 John also loved horses, watching the horse races and yelling when they had lost. His grandfather even made him a train once,that would move allowing his grandson to ride on it. As an only child Ritchie had grown a special bond with his mother and grandparents. 

The Dingle was one of the roughest areas in Liverpool with madness such as gangs and fights, robbers, beatings. As kids they were alright, no one would touch them, same with the elders, “If someone beat up an old lady back then, all the gangs in the neighborhood would come and find him and beat the fuck out of him. They would not let that go down.” Growing up he formed his little group with two of his friends, Brian Briscoe, and Davy Petterson. The three would go anywhere and everywhere together, playing at the bombie’s as their playground, walking to parks, woods, Speke. When Richard finally got a bike the three would start biking to Wales. The three use to chase after buses, knowing the schedules of each on that went by. 

St. Silas’s School was the first school Ritchie attended. The school wasn’t too far from his home and he’d walk back to Admiral Grove for lunch where he’d announce “We’ve got a holiday. That’s it for today, mum.” He got away with it for a little while until his mother had looked out the window to see all of his classmates walking back towards the school. School didn’t become a habit for Ritchie, he only spent about five years attending it. As a child he suffered from a very weak immune system starting at age six and a half when he was at home his appendix burst, the doctor was called in and he was taken in an ambulance to the hospital where they put him in for his operation. Before his appendix was about to be taken out they asked him if there was anything they could get him. He asked for a cup of tea which they wouldn’t give him, they told him he could get it after he gets out of the theatre

“It was ten weeks later they gave me the cup of tea, because that’s how long it took for me to come round.” - Ringo Starr, Anthology

The doctors then went in to examine him and found out he had peritonitis; he had another operation where the doctors claiming that he had died three times. In and out of consciousness he spent a full year in the hospital where his father came to visit him just before his birthday. His dad made a list of all the things his son wanted but never returned to visit him again. 

Being in the hospital for about six months had had been making a very good recovery but encountered pain once again as his stitches were ripped opened after he fell out of his cot reaching for his toy bus he had gotten for his birthday. It took him about six more months in the hospital after his accident and then a few to recover which lead to him missing two years of school. When he finally went back to school he was always behind and hated it. Him and his friends use to walk around the park and write their own excuse notes but would get caught because they couldn’t spell. Ritchie himself didn’t learn how to read till he was nine year old when he was taught by his mother’s friend, Annie’s daughter Marie Maguire. He later attended Dingle Vale Secondary Modern School; he left at age thirteen due to him being so behind. 

Harry, Elsie, and Ringo
When Richie was about eleven years old, Harry Graves a painter and decorator at Burtonwood, started dating his mother. Harry would buy little gifts like DC comics and the Richie and Harry would discuss music, Harry asking “Have you heard this?” and introduce big band music or Sarah Vaughan. When Richie was thirteen his mother asked what he thought about Harry, Ringo was angry at first and felt awful being in the position but said that he liked Harry and Elsie were married in 1953.

Growing up his wanted to be a tramp, just roam around from place to place. On a more practical scale he also wanted to be a sailor, see the world by water and stop at different ports buying items like camel saddles, records, clothes, and other items from other countries. He joined Sea Scouts where he was allowed to play with rifles and run drills with other kids; he was soon kicked out because ran away with a rifle. When he was thirteen things became clear and he realized what he wanted was to get out of Admiral Grove and go somewhere new. He loved parks and wanted to be somewhere greener with sea and space.
His first job had nothing to do with either of his early ambitions of being a tramp or sailor; instead he worked at a sweet shop for a man named Len, who was good friends with Ringo’s new step-father. A little while after he had a job as a messenger boy, then he worked for a steamer at St Tudno, from there he worked as an apprentice for an engineer which he liked because the army wouldn’t take apprentices and he was petrified of being drafted. As he learned to be an engineer he met a lifelong friend, Roy Trafford. Roy and him would go out together, start dressing the same, and would start their own gang. They were teddy boys, everyone had to be part of a gang or group and they were teddy boys, Ringo dressed in black, Roy dressed in blue. By the age of sixteen he was dressed and acted as a teddy boy and he’d grow up getting into fights - he wasn’t that good of a fighter but he could run and that’s what really mattered in some situations.
“I didn’t knife or kill anyone, but I got beaten up a few times – mainly by the people I was with. It’s that terrible gang situation where if you’re not fighting an outsider you get crazy and start fighting among yourselves, like mad dogs. It was vicious. I have seen people lose their eyes; I have seen people stabbed; I have seen people beaten with hammers.”- Ringo Starr, Anthology
 He had an outfit that his cousin had given him, old clothes like a long jacket, tight pants, and crepe-soled shoes.
Teddy Boy Ringo
Check back tomorrow for Day 2 of 7 Days of Starr for his early music.

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