Wednesday, July 2, 2014

7 Days of Starr Day 2- Early Music



Before reading this post it might help if you read Day 1 of 7 Days of Starr about his childhood.
“Music possessed me and I got out.”-Ringo Starr, The Anthology

Ringo had outgrown his illness after age sixteen, but a few years before his sixteenth year he was diagnosed with pleurisy it was in this hospital visit he had grown a liking to drums. Prior to the hospital he had seen drums in a music store on Park Road, the store had all instruments like guitars, banjos and what not but it was the drums that he was drawn too but they were too expensive. He was given a harmonica by his grandfather when he was seven, a mandolin and banjo, and a piano was around but he never had much interest in any of them. It had to be the drums; that was it. When he was in the hospital he started hitting cabinets next to the bed with cotton bobbins, there was nothing else to do. A teacher would come in and teach the child patients, one subject would be music where the kids would be allowed to play percussion instruments like triangles, tambourines, and the drums; Ringo would only play if he could play the drums. 



He bought his first drum for thirty shillings. His uncle played banjo or harmonica and his grandparents played mandolin and banjo, and he would play his drum. When he was fifteen he began singing in choir. His favorite music at the time was The Four Aces’ ‘Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing’, Eddie Calvert, and David Whitfield. Hank Williams was another favorite of his, he had a love for country. When Skiffle was coming out he became a fan of Johnnie Ray but he found his hero when he was sixteen, Frankie Laine; Bill Haley and Carl Perkins later became other favorites of his. When he met Roy Trafford, years later, they would soon share the same love for music and ease on their teddy boy days to become musicians. 
"Ritchie joined the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group with Ed Miles, the boy who lived next door. Roy Trafford and Johnny Dougherty - they all worked together in the same place. Eddie used to take his guitar to work every day. He was a smashing fellow - if ever a lad should have got somewhere he would have. I believe he's the Hank Walters & His Dusty Road Ramblers."-Elsie Gleave, The Mersey Beat
Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group
At age seventeen the skiffle sound had boomed thanks to Lonnie Donegan and The Vipers. Roy Trafford, Eddie Miles (a lathe operator where Ringo and Roy worked and would go by the name Eddie Clayton), John Dougherty, Frank Walsh, and Ringo started their own skiffle group. His first band was called the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. It was around this time that Ringo had received his first drum kit for Christmas from his family. With his drums he took three lessons from an older man, after three lessons it became too routine for Ringo and he never returned. After his lessons and he set up the drums in his bedroom; he only played their twice due to complaints from the neighbors. The band started playing at the factory where they worked, then moved onto doing weddings, which lead to them soon being regulars at Peel Street Labour Club along with appearances at the Cavern Club. 

At age eighteen Ringo began thinking about emigrating to the United States with his friend Johnny and live with one of his favorite Blues musicians, Lightinin’ Hopkins; Ringo even got paper work from the Embassy to go. By this time he was beginning to become well known as a drummer in Liverpool’s best bands like The Darktown Skiffle Group then with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes leaving his band with Eddie and Roy who had become wrapped up in their own personal lives of starting families and focusing more on their careers.
 “I thought Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were great. They were the first ones in Liverpool who really wanted to get into rock’n’roll.” -Ringo Starr, Anthology
Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
Ringo auditioned for Rory; a blonde haired, front man singer, with guitarist, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Byrne (“…was Liverpool’s Jimi Hendrix.”), in 1958 after Ringo had bought his new drum kit, an Ajax single-headed kit from Frank Hessy’s music shop. On first impression Ringo looked tough to the Hurricanes, as he still dressed in his Teddy boy apparel. That was the impression Ringo got often, even when The Beatles met him, they were a bit frightened by him because of his appearance. Ringo passed the audition and became known as one of the greatest drummers in Liverpool during the time, everyone wanted him; some groups didn’t even want Ringo as a drummer, they wanted him as a bassist or anything they could get him to play. 

Rory Storm and the Hurricanes

 The Hurricanes started playing at various places, one being at The Cavern Club on Mathew Street, where they were kicked off stage for being a progressive rock’n’roll group rather than a jazz or skiffle group that the audience wanted to hear. It was around 1959 when it had been announced that those born after September 1939 would be safe from being enlisted into war which was fantastic for Ringo, he stopped working at the factory  and decided he was going to be professional with Rory; the DHSS said ‘He left the factory to join a dance band.’. The Hurricanes were offered a gig to play for £16 a week at the rock and Calypso Ballroom in Butlins. His family told him, 
“'You’ll come back in three months, and you’ll only be semi-skilled when you do.'”  -Ringo Starr, Anthology
Ringo’s response was,
 “I don’t care. Drums are my life, I want to be a musicians and I’m going away with Rory to Butlins to fulfill this dream.” - Anthology
They were in Butlins for three months where they decided to give each other names, John Byrne became Johnny Guitar, and this is when Ringo, became Ringo because of the amount of rings he wore. He began calling himself Ringo Starkey, but Starkey didn’t flow well with his new nick name so he dropped with ending and added an extra ‘r’ making Richard Starkey to Ringo Starr.  
Rory Storm and his Rockette?

 The Hurricanes were in Butlins and the right time, the summer months, where they would perform week after week doing their performances of songs like Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and Rory’s athletics of jumping over Ringo’s head after he finished playing the piano that was located behind the drums.  From Butlins The Hurricanes were offered gigs playing at American army bases in France.
 “The problem was we need a girl singer, because the army didn’t want to look at us guys. So we found a blonde girl in Liverpool (whose name I can’t remember) and we went out there and played in all those bases in the wilderness.”-Ringo Starr, Anthology
 It was during this time that the French were fighting the Algerians and once the band got to Paris by train they were forced off, which wasn’t the most welcoming experience but the band overcame that and stayed in cheap rooms; they survived off of hamburgers and Hershey bars that they got at solider prices. By autumn 1960 Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were to play in Hamburg, Germany where everything seemed to fall into place.
 
George, Pete, Paul, John at the Cavern
With gigs in Germany and around venues near their home town Rory Storm and the Hurricanes became the greatest rock 'n' roll group in Liverpool, amongst with another favorite band whose name changed from The Quarrymen to Long John and the Silver Beetles to The Beatles. During this time The Beatles were held together by three guitarist, the leader seeming to be John Lennon who shared the leadership with a chubby cheeked Paul McCartney who had recently picked up bass after their bass player, Stu Sutcliffe, fell in love with a German photographer, and the shy lead guitarist, George Harrison. Behind the three standing at the microphones was drummer, Pete Best, whose mother owns the Casbah Club, a coffee club in the Best's basement where The Beatles played regularly when they weren't playing in Germany or The Cavern. The Beatles were well known due to bookings from their manager, Brian Epstein, in fact The Beatles were already looking for a record label after making an album with another English performer, Tony Sheridan, where they were listed as The Beats. The group went to London where they were shot down by Decca records, read about their experience here. From their they went on to EMI Studios were producer George Martin had made the suggestion that the group was strong but needed a new drummer, with that standing in the way The Beatles had their manager fire Pete. 
"We were cowards. We got Epstein to do the dirty work for us."- John Lennon, Anthology
Ringo and The Beatles
On 12 August, 1962 Brian broke the news to Pete. Six days later Ringo had joined the band after being offered the job two days earlier. When he joined the band the fans were furious, especially the girls who found  Pete  the most attractive one out of all of The Beatles. At gigs the crowd would chant,
"Ringo never, Pete Best forever!"
George was even headbutted and received a black eye outside of the Cavern by a Best fan. But that all died down and Ringo became (in John Lennon's words) The greatest drummer. George described the situation in a joke matter saying, "How many Beatles does it take to screw in a light bulb? Four." Ringo being the fourth piece.




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