Where did the baby name Ringo come from in 1964?

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr

In early 1964, The Beatles traveled to the U.S. for the first time.

They became immensely popular here. So popular that, in early April, the top five songs on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart were all Beatles songs: “Can’t Buy Me Love” (#1), “Twist and Shout” (#2), “She Loves You” (#3), “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (#4), and “Please Please Me” (#5).

Their influence even crept onto the baby name charts, with a dozen baby boys being named Ringo after drummer Ringo Starr that year:

  • 1966: 8 baby boys named Ringo
  • 1965: 18 baby boys named Ringo [peak usage]
  • 1964: 12 baby boys named Ringo [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted

So, is Ringo’s name really “Ringo”?

Nope. It’s Richard. And his surname is Starkey, not Starr.

He adopted the stage name Ringo Starr while he was in a band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes (before joining The Beatles).

It was during that summer [of 1960] that Ringo got his name. Up to then he had occasionally been called “Rings,” because he wore as many as four rings at once, one of them a broad gold band he got when his Grandfather Starkey died (he still wears that). Then, at Butlin’s, his surname Starkey was abbreviated to Starr so his solo drumming spot could be announced as “Starr time.” Rings became Ringo because it sounded better with Starr.


Image: The Beatles by United Press International, via LOC

UPDATE, 4/2017: I just discovered that there was also a country song called “Ringo” by Lorne Greene (of Bonanza fame) that came out around this time. It was released as a single after Ringo Starr became famous. In fact, and it reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in late 1964.

The song has nothing to do with the drummer — it’s about the Old West outlaw Johnny Ringo — but it certainly could have given the baby name Ringo an extra nudge in the mid-1960s.

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