The Day Ringo Starr First Recorded With the Beatles
The date, which marks the first time Starr performed with George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, happened while the musicians were honing their chops through a series of live dates in German clubs. Starr, then employed as the drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, was in the midst of a residency at the Kaiserkeller club in Hamburg — the same venue occupied by their rivals the Beatles.
The competition between the two groups didn't stop promoter Allan Williams from uniting them for a session supporting Hurricanes member Lu Walters, whom he'd booked into the local Akoustik Studio to record three tracks: the Peggy Lee hit "Fever," Kurt Weill's "September Song" and George Gershwin's "Summertime." Williams, who also managed the Beatles, decided the latter song needed something extra, so he enlisted his clients to sit in for the Hurricanes and back Walters on the track. The Beatles' drummer at the time, Pete Best, was in town on an errand, so Starr remained behind the kit for the recording.
"It was Allan Williams who wanted our group to record three songs with our brilliant vocalist Lu Walters," Hurricanes guitarist Johnny "Guitar" Byrne later recalled. "But Allan didn't think that our band was good enough and got the Beatles to help us."
Harrison, for one, didn't think much of the session, later describing Walters as "a guy who thought he was a singer" and "paid to have the record made himself" in Akoustik, a tiny facility open to the public for limited-run novelty acetates exchanged between family and friends. True to form, although Walters' recording of "Summertime" was pressed, only a handful of copies were ever made, and according to the Beatles Bible, "none are known to have survived."
Starr's prowess was already known to his peers, as the Hurricanes were one of Liverpool's more popular bands, and his short time in the studio with the Beatles must have suited his reputation; in August 1962, Lennon asked Starr to replace Best in the lineup, and the rest is rock 'n' roll history.