Ringo Starr Once Revealed How He Kept Failing at Being Like Frank Sinatra: ‘I Haven’t Made it Yet’

Not many musicians have had a career quite like Ringo Starr. He created some of the most groundbreaking music ever while playing with Liverpool’s most famous band, and he eventually entered a hall of fame the rest of The Beatles will never join. He has a ton of accolades to his name, but Ringo once said there was one way he kept failing to be like Frank Sinatra.

Ringo Starr performs live in Italy in 2018, another concert where he likely failed to be just like Frank Sinatra.
Ringo Starr | Roberto Serra – Iguana Press/Getty Images

The Beatles and Frank Sinatra had overlapping success

Revisionist history suggests the music world turned upside down when The Beatles released their first single. The Fab Four’s fantastic early pop songs and later experimental works eventually altered the landscape, but the change didn’t happen overnight.

Frank Sinatra still found chart success after The Beatles stormed the U.S. in 1964 with their lucky appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Old Blue Eyes saw two of his three top-10 Billboard hits chart in 1966. “Strangers in the Night” spent 15 weeks on the charts and peaked at No. 1 in early July. “That’s Life” reached No. 4 around Christmas. Sinatra had another hit with “Somethin’ Stupid,” which reached No. 1 in April 1967.

The chart success was about all Ringo and The Beatles had in common with the big-band crooner. Still, Ringo revealed years later he kept failing at copying Sinatra’s bravado.

Ringo Starr once said he failed to be like Sinatra: ‘I haven’t made it yet’

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Ringo played in the popular Liverpool band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes before joining The Beatles. His first band had an overlapping residency in Hamburg, Germany (where their pink suits helped them get better lodging than The Beatles). 

The Fab Four toured heavily for several years, and these days, Ringo constructs an All-Starr Band for a tour nearly every year. So he’s used to playing live in front of large audiences. Still, he battles butterflies before every show, despite telling himself that night is the night he’ll be like Frank Sinatra. He once told Conan O’Brien (via YouTube) he failed every time:

“Every night, there’s a moment where I just want to go back to bed. It’s like ‘[hands shaking] Ohh, ohh.’ I just get nervous. Then I run on, and as soon as I grab the mic, I’m fine. But every night, I keep saying, ‘Tonight’s the night you’re gonna be Frank Sinatra. You’re just gonna stroll on.’ And I haven’t made it yet; I run. It’s just something that happens. All the nerves just come to the fore … It’s part of what I am … This is just how I am.”

Ringo Starr talks about his failed attempts to stroll on stage like Frank Sinatra

It might sound strange hearing that Ringo still gets jittery before every show. After all, he’s played hundreds if not thousands of concerts. 

At the same time, it shows that he cares. It happens to athletes, too. Stephen Curry, one of the greatest NBA players ever, still gets nervous before training camp, reports Sportscasting. If Curry or Ringo didn’t care about what happened on stage or the court, they probably wouldn’t be nervous at all.

Ringo was more like Sinatra than he realized

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Ringo told O’Brien he never sauntered on stage like he presumed Sinatra did. The super-skilled drummer sprints as if to outrun his nerves. Still, Ringo’s pre-concert routine isn’t all that different from Sinatra’s.

“There have been times when not only did I have those hesitant three seconds, but I have actually puked before I went on,” Ringo told Conan. 

Brian Wilson once said someone told him Old Blue Eyes got sick before every performance. It was kind of his pre-show ritual. Ringo Starr thought he kept failing at being like Frank Sinatra because he lost his cool before every show. It turns out he was more like the classic crooner than he could have imagined.

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