Ringo Starr was the final piece of the jigsaw for The Beatles, and his arrival helped the group on their ascendency immeasurably. When Starr agreed to play with the band, the drummer didn’t overthink his decision and had no idea of the grand plans that lay on the horizon.
At the time of his decision to join the band, Starr was one of the most in-demand percussionists in Merseyside, and he knew The Beatles well. Intriguingly, it wasn’t England where they would first meet. Germany was a crucial part of the origin story of ‘The Fab Four’, and Hamburg is where they cut their teeth on stage. Additionally, it’s also where Ringo would come into their lives.
During this period, Starr was playing with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, a band who were then more successful than The Beatles. The Beatles initially refused the lucrative offer to go to Germany because they were too busy due to a prior arrangement with the holiday park, Butlins, before adjusting their schedule to honour both commitments.
Over this time in Europe, Starr grew close with The Beatles, and his adept skills left a strong impression on his temporary bandmates. Meanwhile, Pete Best’s relationship with the group had grown fractured, and he rarely associated with the rest of the band in his free time. They longed for somebody who could not only be an asset musically but a vital member of the gang too, and recruiting Ringo made perfect sense as he filled both roles required.
Starr officially joined the group eight months on from Hamburg, and his arrival was met with discontent from their loyal legion of fans who felt sorry for the ousted Best. Shockingly, George Harrison received a black eye from one disgruntled punter after Starr’s inaugural show at The Cavern, but they’d soon come around to the new man behind the kit.
Starr didn’t overthink his decision to accept their offer and later told BBC 6 Music about the relaxed way it all came about. “I remember it in a way, I was with Rory (Storm and The Hurricanes). I wasn’t with The Beatles, and Brian knocked on the door. He said, ‘The lads have got a gig at The Cavern, and they want a drummer, will you play?’ I said, ‘Sure’. That’s how it happened.”
He continued, “We all knew each other because of Germany, and we were all playing the same songs, really. I played Litherland Town Hall, and there were three bands, and the other two drummers didn’t turn up so I just sat with everybody, and just changed jackets.”
Starr then wistfully reminisced, “Those days were so great to be a musician and the all-night sessions in Liverpool. You’d all finish your gigs, then everybody would converge upon a club, and we’d all jam till 7 or 8 in the morning.”
Imagining The Beatles without Ringo Starr is a challenging task as he was the glue that kept everything together both on and off the stage for the group. He has been unfairly castigated throughout his career when, in truth, the importance of Ringo was unquantifiable.