FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThe first concert Ringo Starr played with The Beatles after officially joining the group happened 50 years ago today. The drummer's debut set as a Fab Four member took place at 10 p.m. at Hulme Hall in Birkenhead, England, at an annual dance for a horticultural society. Two days earlier, the group fired Pete Best, reportedly after producer George Martin had complained about his poor drumming at a recent recording session.
Prior to joining The Beatles, Starr had been playing in another Liverpool, England, group called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes that sometimes shared a bill with the Fab Four. Ringo also had filled in for Best occasionally while both bands were playing residencies in Hamburg, Germany.
Starr's rock steady rhythm, adaptability and clever fills were important elements of The Beatles' incredibly influential and enduring body of work. And while not generally noted as a singer or songwriter, he was responsible for a number of memorable Fab Four tunes, contributing lead vocals to classics like "Yellow Submarine," "With a Little Help from My Friends," "Octopus' Garden" and "Don't Pass Me By," the latter two of which he also composed.
Ringo also was cited as a unifying influence on his band mates when the other members were experiencing some of their well-documented conflicts prior to the group's 1970 breakup. After The Beatles split, Starr remained on friendly terms with the other members, often appearing on their solo albums or vice versa.
When he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 2010, Starr commented on the bond he formed with his Beatle mates.
"I'm an only child and I joined this band and I had three brothers," he declared. "They looked out for me and I looked out for them and we all supported each other, and it was really beautiful to be part of that. And besides that, we made some great records."
At the same event, acclaimed producer Don Was summed up the importance of Starr's contributions to the Fab Four, noting that "Ringo's musicality, his groove and his spirit are absolutely essential components of all those great Beatle records."
At 72, Starr continues to delight music fans, thanks to his ongoing annual tours with his All Starr Band. He also remains a fairly prolific solo artist, having released five new studio efforts in the last nine years. His most recent, Ringo 2012, hit stores this past January.