British rock drummer, singer, and actor. As drummer with the Beatles (1962–70), he was one of the best-known people in the world; since the break-up of the group his career has been less exciting.
Born in Liverpool, he became an apprentice engineer in 1959 after an undistinguished school career. After receiving a set of drums as a Christmas present, he joined a skiffle group. This led to a tour in Germany in 1961 with Rory Storme's Hurricanes, where he met John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. The following year he replaced Pete Best as the Beatles' drummer and his style became synonymous with the ‘Mersey beat’ that swept the world of pop music. As one of the Beatles he occasionally sang vocals, often in comic numbers or country-style songs such as ‘Honey Don't’ and ‘Act Naturally’. His first song to be performed was ‘Don't Pass Me By’ (1968).
His solo career began in 1970 with the disappointing album Sentimental Journey, a collection of pre-rock standards. Of the albums that followed the most successful were Ringo (1973) and Goodnight Vienna (1974). In 1973 he directed a documentary film called Born to Boogie; he has also appeared in a dozen other films, notably That'll Be The Day (1973) and Caveman (1981). In the 1990s he emerged from a period of alcoholism to find renewed success as narrator of the BBC's popular Thomas the Tank Engine series for children. More recently he released the come-back album A Vertical Man (1998) and returned to live performance with an all-star band.