Richard Starkey turns 75 today. Most folks know Starkey as Ringo Starr, drummer for THE band of the century, The Beatles.
He wasn't an original member, and was on the verge of being fired shortly after taking over on the drums. When producer George Martin wanted to replace him, the other three refused to go along with the idea.
Ringo is also the oldest Beatle, born three months before John Lennon, and the other left-hander in the group.
He says it kept him from playing drums like other stars of the day. As he put it, "All my fills start in the wrong place, because I'm a left-handed drummer playing a right-handed kit." Paul McCartney is also left-handed.
Starr was replaced as drummer on at least three occasions. During the group's second recording session, Ringo was relegated to playing tambourine and maracas, as Andy White provided the beat for the songs "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You."
When Starr came down with tonsillitis in 1964, session man Jimmie Nicol filled in while The Beatles toured the Far East.
McCartney also played drums on several tracks, simply because Ringo wasn't in the studio that particular day. Paul can be heard on "Back in the USSR" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko."
Ringo didn't sing a lot of The Beatles hits, but two of the bigger ones come to mind, "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Yellow Submarine."
He actually asked McCartney to change the lyrics in the former, swapping "…would you throw tomatoes as me?" to "…would you stand up and walk out on me?" Starr thought the original lyrics would prompt fans to throw vegetables at him.
Ringo had a successful solo career, turning out hits like "Photograph", "You're Sixteen" and "It Don't Come Easy." It was good enough to get him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, all four of The Beatles are now in the hall as individuals.
Happy birthday Ringo!