In 1959, he was the drummer with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, the biggest of all the groups in Liverpool, England at that time.
But it wasn’t until October and November of 1960 when Rory Storm & The Hurricanes played alternating sets, seven nights a week, 6 to 8 1/2 hours a night, for eight weeks at a club called The Kaiserkeller in Hamburg, West Germany with another Liverpool group called The Beatles, that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison really got to know Ringo Starr.
Back home, throughout 1961 and into 1962, John, Paul and George maintained their friendship with Ringo. He was the first one they’d call to fill in when drummer Pete Best couldn’t make an engagement. One such date was Monday, February 5, 1962. On this day, Ringo played two shows: lunchtime at The Cavern Club in Liverpool and an evening gig at the Kingsway Club in Southport.
In June of 1962, when The Beatles – John, Paul, George and Pete – auditioned for Parlophone Records, producer George Martin liked everything he heard, except Pete’s drumming. So, in early August, after much discussion, The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein got the very difficult job of telling Pete that he was out. Two years and three days after he’d joined the band known originally as The Silver Beetles, Pete Best played his last performance with John, Paul and George at The Cavern Club on the evening of Wednesday, August 15, 1962.
Brian Epstein also got the job of calling Ringo Starr and offering him the position as full-time drummer for The Beatles.
When Brian called, Ringo was not only still playing for Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, he also had two other offers on the table. King Size Taylor & The Dominoes wanted him to play drums for them and Gerry & The Pacemakers wanted Ringo to be their bass guitar player (even though he had never played bass guitar!).
But Ringo loved playing with John, Paul and George and, as he later said, “We were pals!” Ringo also knew that The Beatles were on the verge of getting a record deal with EMI and to him, “a piece of plastic was like gold, was more than gold.”
And, The Beatles offered him the highest salary, £25 a week, to start.
So, shaving off his beard and getting his hair cut in the style worn by his new bandmates, Ringo said, “Yes.”
On Saturday, August 18, 1962, after a two-hour rehearsal, The Beatles – now officially John, Paul, George and Ringo – took the stage at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight, Birkenhead, England as the headlining act of the Horticultural Society’s 17th annual dance.
Fifty years ago today.
P.S.: While in Hamburg, on Saturday, October 15, 1960, John, Paul and George along with Ringo and Walter Eymond (aka Lou Walters), bassist for The Hurricanes, gathered at a small recording studio called The Akustik (located behind the city’s central railway station) and recorded a version of the George Gershwin/Dubose Heyward song “Summertime.” Only one copy of the nine, 78-rpm discs that were cut is known to still exist.
Information for this post was gathered from The Complete Beatles Chronicle (1992) by Mark Lewisohn; The Beatles Anthology (2000) by The Beatles; and The Love You Make – An Insider’s Story of The Beatles (1983) by Peter Brown & Steven Gaines.