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Ringo Starr helped change The Beatles’ fortunes by bringing his impressive drumming skills to the Fab Four. Liverpool’s finest cut their teeth playing live in Hamburg, Germany, grew into sensations in England thanks to their non-stop touring, and became international stars after a lucky run-in with Ed Sullivan. Before any of that happened, though, Ringo’s first band scored better accommodations than the Beatles when they played in Hamburg because of their pink suits. 

Ringo Starr (second from right) drums during a 1961 concert for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo's first successful band that got a German room upgrade thanks to their suits.
Ringo Starr (second from right) with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ringo Starr crossed paths with the Beatles while playing with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes

The Beatles famously played several residencies in Hamburg, Germany, but they weren’t the only band from Liverpool making money in Deutschland. 

Before he joined the Fab Four, Ringo drummed for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, a band that earned a positive reputation in Liverpool and Germany. The Beatles knew Ringo and his Hurricanes bandmates from England, but they rubbed elbows playing some of the same clubs in Germany in the early 1960s. 

The Beatles shared hotel rooms for years, even after they made it big. That was an upgrade after sharing dingy storage closets as they cut their teeth playing live in Hamburg. Yet Ringo and his Rory Storm bandmates scored better accommodations thanks to some fancy suits.

Ringo’s first band scored a room upgrade in Hamburg because of their fancy suits

Performing nightly in Germany helped the Beatles form their identity. George Harrison once said the band had no clue about playing live because their only experience doing so before their Hamburg residencies was limited to a few parties and other small gigs. 

The Beatles didn’t receive the best accommodations in Hamburg, but Ringo’s first band got an upgrade. The drummer once told British TV host Jonathan Ross (via YouTube) that Rory Storm and the Hurricanes’ fancy pink suits helped the band score better lodging in Hamburg.

“You know how useful those suits were? When we went to Germany to play Hamburg, they tried to make us all sleep in a real pit of a room backstage. And we said, ‘We can’t sleep there. We’ve got suits!’ So we all moved to the German seamannsmission and shared a room. ‘We have suits!’ It was like our big claim.”

Ringo Starr on how his first band got better rooms in Hamburg, Germany, thanks to their suits

The rooms at the seamannsmission — which is currently something of a hostel for merchant marines, according to its website — likely weren’t world-class. Still, for a fledgling band playing a litany of gigs hundreds of miles from home in a foreign country, moving from a cramped space backstage to something resembling a real room probably felt like going from a roadside motel to the Ritz.

Ringo paid homage to his first band on his solo albums


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Ringo embarked on a solo career like the rest of the Beatles did after the band broke up. Many of his best solo songs (and some of the most successful) landed on early albums such as Ringo and Goodnight Vienna. But Ringo’s first band never strayed from his mind.

On the title track from 2008’s Liverpool 8, Ringo sings about how he “Played Butlin’s Camp with my friend, Rory.” That’s a reference to the Welsh holiday camp where Rory Storm and the Hurricanes played a residency in 1960.

Ringo honored his first band even more on 2015’s Postcards From Paradise. The lead track, “Rory and the Hurricanes,” is a seemingly autobiographical look at the band’s earliest days together.

He hit it big with the Beatles and embarked on a successful solo career, but Ringo’s first band (and their pink suits) never left his mind.

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