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Ringo Starr flies back to Liverpool to kick-start Capital of Culture

FORTY-SIX years have passed since this photograph was taken, but you can’t mistake the face on the left.

(left to right) Ringo Starr (Ritchie Starkey) (left) and Rory Storm (Alan Caldwell) (centre) with The Hurricanes _240
(left to right) Ringo Starr (Ritchie Starkey) (left) and Rory Storm (Alan Caldwell) (centre) with The Hurricanes _240

FORTY-SIX years have passed since this photograph was taken, but you can’t mistake the face on the left.

Everything is there as we remember it – down to that phantom of a smile under the dark eyes and generous nose.

Soon those features would be clasped in lockets and slipped under the pillows of a million yearning girls.

But just for a moment, we are back in those days when all the culture you needed was found in a bubble-gum pink suit, two-tone hoofers and a cowboy-saloon tie.

Tomorrow he will be back in Liverpool, still a teddy boy at heart, to open the European Capital of Culture celebrations from St George’s Hall.

It is, of course, Ringo Starr, the drummer from Madryn Street on Liverpool’s Dingle/Toxteth border, who would become one of the most famous men in the world.

The lanky, blond chap in the blue suit is Rory Storm (Alan Caldwell), the first great name of Merseybeat. The others are members of his group, The Hurricanes, then the most popular in the city.

They are Johnny Guitar (Johnny Byrne), Lou Walters, Tyrone (Ty) Brian.

This precious photograph was entrusted to the Daily Post by Jimmy Stevens, a father of five from Birkenhead, who was an integral part of that scene with his group, the Beathovens, who appeared regularly at the Cavern.

Jimmy, 65, and still singing and playing the piano, was a close friend of Rory, who gave him the photograph, unusually for the time, in colour. It was a little crumpled, but our photographic experts have restored it. It was taken in 1962, probably outside a tailor’s shop in London Road, Liverpool, known as Eric’s. A few months later, when The Hurricanes were performing at Butlin’s in Skegness, Ringo was invited to join The Beatles.

They had all been together, almost a family, driving to and from the venues in old jalopies in various states of disrepair – the cars, that is. Even now, Jimmy recalls his stuttering friend Rory as an amazingly gifted performer with terrific energy. More importantly, he was a good man.

However, The Hurricanes didn’t enjoy the success that their early popularity merited. Rory died from an accidental overdose of drink and medication in 1972.

The next year, Jimmy seemed destined for the big time. A prolific songwriter, he had been signed up by Robert Stigwood. Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees produced his album, Don’t Freak Me Out, and he toured Japan, the US and other places with the Bee Gees. During this period he sent Ringo a copy of the photo. But Jimmy loved life at home with his wife Cathy. Fame slipped away.

“Rory was great,” says Jimmy. “He had a Vauxhall Cresta and used to give people, including Ringo, a lift home from the Blue Angel. They were fine times.”

The memories may touch Ringo, 67, this weekend. One of his big- gest solo hits was called Photograph.

davidcharters@dailypost.co.uk

 

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