Photograph by Ringo Starr - book review

Cranleigh resident Ringo Starr

Cranleigh resident Ringo Starr - Credit: Genesis Publications -

This month, TV news presenter Juliette Foster turns her attention to the hotly-anticipated new e-book by ex-Beatle and Cranleigh resident Ringo Starr, which in another local link, was also published by the county’s very own Genesis in Guildford…

Is the world ready for another Beatles’ book? What do we know about the Fab Four that hasn’t been said already? The answer rather depends on what you think of them but there’s no doubt that Richard Starkey’s previously unseen photographs shine a touchingly intimate light on one of the biggest bands of the 20th century. Starkey (aka drummer Ringo Starr), who now divides his time between Cranleigh and LA, has collaborated with the Guildford-based publisher Genesis to produce Photograph, a collection of 140 images interspersed with his own audio commentary and available as an e-book.

You don’t have to be a hardcore Beatles fan to appreciate this gentle stroll down memory lane, just as it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that this book manages to pull off several interesting feats. On the one hand, it’s a catalogue of Ringo’s life, but it also captures the Liverpool music scene of the late 1950s/ early 1960s, and the essence of what it must have been like growing up in post war Britain.

Images abound of Ringo with his family, partying with friends, (“a good time was had by all in those days”), drumming in nightclubs and cheerfully revelling in some of the stand-out moments of his life such as the day he bought his first car (a standard Vanguard costing £75.00). It’s the very ordinariness and innocence of these pictures that make them so appealing, complementing the ones he later took of The Beatles. Today’s pop stars may be cosseted by PR advisors, spin doctors, mind medics and other hangers-on, yet it’s refreshing to look back on an era when the trappings of fame weren’t as ostentatious.

Four likeable lads

We get to see the Beatles as they really were: four likeable lads from Liverpool childishly bemused by the suddenness of their vault into international stardom. It’s hard not to smile at the sight of Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon larking around in five star hotels, or of Brian Epstein (the Beatles’ legendary manager), jokingly wearing a mop-top wig. They’re priceless images that linger in the mind long after Ringo closes the final page of his chronicle with a peace salute. This is nostalgia at its best and it’s fitting that Ringo has teamed up with elite, Guildford-based publishers Genesis on their 40th anniversary, to build on the success they both enjoyed with Postcards from the Boys.

E-books might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s worth putting aside any reservations to spend a few hours reading this classy memoir. The author is a delightful guide with a self-effacing manner, a good sense of humour and a deep respect of family, especially for his mother who “loved every second of my life”. If that’s not enough to tempt you into buying the app, then you’ll have to wait until December when Genesis will issue a signed, limited hard back edition of the book.

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It isn’t difficult to see why Beatlemania struck such a chord and Photograph has many qualities that are likely to appeal to every generation. It’s funny, sad in one or two places, but genuinely moving and I can’t help wondering whether Ringo and Genesis might be planning a third outing of their magical mystery tour. Given the size of his archive and the many stories he has yet to tell, it shouldn’t be ruled out.

Ringo Starr’s new ebook, Photograph, is brought to you by Genesis Publications. Now available from the iBookstore and, priced at £9.99



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