Ringo Starr and the Anxiety of Romantic Childhood

Part of the Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters book series (19CMLL)


There’s a moment in the Beatles’ August 1, 1965 television appearance on “Blackpool Night Out” that beautifully captures Ringo’s Beatle persona. “And now we’d like to do something we don’t often do,” he says during a break between songs. “Give someone a chance to sing who doesn’t often sing. And here he is, all out of key and nervous, singing ‘Act Naturally’ . . . Ringo!” The boys go right into Buck Owens’ bouncy tune about newfound stardom and the secret of making it big in the movies—all he has to do is act naturally. If Ringo is nervous, he hides it well. Though he struggles a bit with pitch control, he is not out of key, and he sings the song with winning humor, all the while maintaining the rock solid beat for which he was famous. The moment is trademark Ringo: skilled and steady, but presented with the disarming self-effacement of a talented child suddenly thrust into the limelight, whose performance acquires extra charm from the touch of uncertainty with which it is carried off.


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© Matthew Schneider 2008

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