Can you believe it: this man is 70 years old today
Today is Ringo Starr's seventieth birthday.
I remember when 70 was an age at which not even the most delusional could kid themselves that they were still young, or even middle-aged. Perhaps if you make it to 100 you can look back at 70 as your relative youth. But even now, fifteen years away from that milepost (assuming I make it), it's hard for me to fathom that Ringo fucking Starr is seventy. It isn't just that when people my age think of the Beatles, they think of four young guys from England who turned the world upside down in 1964. I mean, LOOK at him! Sure, this photo is from two years ago, but still. Does this look like a sixty-eight-year-old man?
When the Beatles were young, there were "John girls", "George girls", and "Paul girls". The John girls were the artists and poets who became political activists. The George girls went on to embrace New Age spirituality. Paul girls were those who were either very conventional or desperately wanted to fit in. (Your humble blogger, at the age of nine, was in that last category.) But only a very few geekettes had the self-confidence to truly be Ringo girls.
Ringo always seemed like the village idiot of the Beatles. He wasn't even a particularly good drummer. He was homely, he never seemed particularly bright, but he was clearly always aware of, and thankful for, his incredible good fortune. Here's a guy who could have been at best (no pun intended) just a footnote to American musical history (Do YOU remember Rory Storm and the Hurricanes? I thought not), but instead sat in on a session one day in 1961 and the rest is history.
It's hard to say if Starr's happy-go-lucky nature, which resulted in a slew of almost novelty songs in the Beatles' oeuvre, allowed him to live a life relatively untouched by the hazards of fame, or if he is a case of the Lord looking out for babies and fools. Consider the murder of John Lennon, at George Harrison dying painfully of cancer and being exploited by his own doctor, at Paul McCartney's disastrous attempt to recapture what he had with Linda Eastman by marrying a lookalike -- and how THAT ended up. Then look at Ringo Starr. He's married almost thirty years to Barbara Bach, he's had a consistent, if hardly revolutionary career, he's done fun projects like the "Shining Time Station" children's show, and he continues to tour every year with a ragtag band of has-beens, almost-wases, and who-the-fuck-is-thats.
No one will ever say that Ringo Starr was an influential musician, though he was part of a group that was. But on this, his seventieth birthday, we could do worse as role models than to look at a man who's managed to avoid almost all of the pitfalls of being a rock star, and see the face of a happy man in late life.
Happy birthday, Ringo!
Labels: birthdays, music