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Before The Beatles added Ringo Starr as their drummer and left their mark on the music world, they took inspiration from American musicians. Artists such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard influenced the Fab Four and countless English musicians. Eddie Cochran was another influence on developing English rock stars. Ringo’s first band missed out on a chance to share the same bill with the legendary rocker, and it might have saved The Beatles as we know them.

Ringo Starr (front) and George Harrison (rear, from left), Paul McCartney, and John Lennon of The Beatles in 1962, just two years after Eddie Cochran's tragic death might have ensured that Ringo joined The Beatles.
Ringo Starr (front) and George Harrison (rear, from left), Paul McCartney, and John Lennon | Photo 12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ringo Starr and The Beatles were influenced by American rock of the 1950s

Before they took over the world, the members of The Beatles were teenagers starting bands and playing around Liverpool. The burgeoning songwriters found inspiration listening to American rock ‘n’ roll music.

Buddy Holly was almost universally adored. Little Richard and Chuck Berry influenced several notable English bands formed in the 1960s. Ringo once said his favorite song is a little-known Ray Charles track. Paul McCartney said the Isley Brothers changed The Beatles’ lives for the better. John Lennon said there wouldn’t have been a Fab Four without Elvis, and The King may have inspired one of The Beatles’ early hits.

Cochran crossed the pond to tour England in 1960. As Ringo once recalled, his first band was set to share a bill with the “Summertime Blue” and “C’mon Everybody” singer, but they never had that chance. 

How Ringo’s first band missed his chance to share a bill with Eddie Cochran

In due time, Ringo and The Beatles could have asked any artist to share a bill with them and received a full-throated yes. But the former Richard Starkey didn’t hold that kind of sway when Cochran toured England in 1960.

Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, Ringo’s first band before he impressed Paul in just one moment and joined The Beatles, were still up and comers. Playing a bill with Eddie Cochran in 1960 was a big deal. But as Ringo told Conan O’Brien (via YouTube), they never had that chance:

“Eddie Cochran came to play [England]. It was him and Gene Vincent and somebody else doing a tour of England, and they were going to play Liverpool. With Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, we were going to be on the same bill as Eddie Cochran. Anyway, God rest his soul, he died before he got to Liverpool. We didn’t think, ‘Oh God.’ We thought, ‘He could have waited ’til he played Liverpool.'”

Ringo Starr on how his first band missed out on playing with Eddie Cochran

According to the drummer, Cochran’s untimely death in a car crash robbed Ringo of his chance to play with the rock ‘n’ roll legend. That might have been a blessing for The Beatles and saved the band as we know them.

The Beatles might have looked quite different if Ringo had played alongside Cochran


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Cochran’s death very well might have allowed The Beatles as we know them to form (at least in this version of revisionist history). 

Rory Storm & the Hurricanes were hardly an anonymous band in Liverpool in 1960. However, sharing a stage with Cochran could have sent their stock skyrocketing. Perhaps they start touring outside Liverpool and headlining shows across England based on the notoriety gained from their Cochran concert. All of a sudden, Ringo is the timekeeper for a group rapidly gaining popularity in England.

In this version of history, Ringo is already part of a successful band and making more money than he ever had growing up in working-class Liverpool. If John, Paul, and George Harrison asked him to join the Beatles in 1962, would they have been able to match his pay from playing with a suddenly successful Rory Storm? Would he say yes and accept a pay decrease? Would The Beatles have become the the band that redefined pop music without Ringo’s impressive drumming skills?

Thankfully for music fans, we don’t have to live in this reality. Ringo Starr’s first band missed its chance to play alongside Eddie Cochran in 1960, he joined The Beatles in 1962, and the rest is history.

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