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The Beatles 20 Years On
Supplement to the Liverpool Echo - September 13-18 1982

Ringo, who has turned to acting since the Beatles split, was the survivor of a remarkable car crash which changed his life. He now lives quietly near Ascot.

Ringo by PETER TROLLOPE

the wrecked mercedes which is now a coffee table      THE white Mercedes accelerated smoothly along the deserted roads through the early morning May mists. The famous passengers inside the car relaxed. It had been a long hard night. Just a few more miles and they would be home.
     As the car approached the notorious accident black spot at the Robin Hood roundabout on the A3 at Kingston there was a sickening screech of tyres followed by a sharp thud.
     The Mercedes veered off the road, hit the kerb, rolled over and over agin, smashing down three concrete lamposts before coming to a shuddering halt.
     As the car cartwheeled over, Ringo Starr was thrown clear. He landed on the grass verge. His companion, Barbara Bach remained trapped inside.
     Ringo picked himself up and ran to help her from the twisted, shattered remains of the car. They both walked away with minor cuts and bruises.
     The car is now a crushed cube that serves as a unique coffee table at their luxurious home near Ascot. An insight into Ringo's sense of humour and also a reminder of the day that completely changed his lifestyle.
     For shortly after the crash he proposed to Barbara Bach. "I thought, if we could both survive that, we could survive anything," says Ringo.
     But really, it is Barbara Bach - the doe-eyed beauty with long, brown hair, who atrred in the 007 James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, who has changed his life.
     They met on the set of the film Caveman. Ringo had the leading part. "All I had to do was grunt," he says. Barbara has two children by a previous marriage to an Italian businessman. Ringo took the opportunity of an appearance on television's Michael Parkinson show to introduce her to Britain. happiness with Barbara his new wife
     They are devoted to each other but are well known for their "furious rows". A former employee says: "When Ringo looses his temper - which isn't very often - look out. he just explodes occasionally. Still, they do seem very happy together."
     "Wherever they go, they're always touching hugging, or kissing each other," he said.
     Ringo dedicated his last album Stop And Smell The Roses to Barbara, but he didn't forget the men he calls "my three brothers".
     The message was simple "Thanks - My Three Brothers." George and Paul, both appeared on different tracks.
     "I always thought of the others as my brothers. I was an only child, so they were and still are, like brothers to me - even though one is dead," says Ringo.
     And it was Ringo's marriage on April 27 last year that brought the three remaining Beatles together again - for just the day.
     It was the first time that Ringo, Paul and George had appeared in public together since that fateful last performance high up on a cold and windy roof above London's Savile Row in January 1969.
     Throughout the wedding ceremony, the same thought crossed all their minds - "If only John were here too."
     Ringo is the only one of the former Beatles to talk frankly about the threat that has hung over all of them after John Lennon's senseless murder.
     "Since John was killed, we've all recieved death threats," he said recently. "It's like there were people out there who decided they wanted to get their own Beatle.
     "Something like that makes you want to become a recluse - it frightens you, but you can't let a terrible thing by one man dictate the rest of your life."
     To-day television cameras keep a 24-hour security watch on the front gates to Tittenhurst Park - the 74 acres of parkland Ring, ironically, bought from John Lennon, when John went to live in New York.
     To-day the mansion home, with its eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, four reception rooms is home to Ringo and Barbara. They moved in last year after leaving America "forever."
     There was speculation at the time that Ringo was "running scared" of several death threats and that he had come back to britain because he felt safer here.
     But Peter Silberman, one of his close friends, say there is another reason.
     "I'd say it was his wedding to barbara in London that had something to do with it - it revived some wonderful memories for him and reminded him where home really was."

Ringo and Barbara with their two pet animals      Ringo had originally bought Tittenhurst Park in a bid to save his crumbling marriage to first wife Maureen, but it was only to end in divorce some months later.
     For Ringo it was the start of the drifting years, spent on jet-set jaunts, high living and drunken disorder. And it nearly cost Ringo his life.
     After a succession of gossip column romances - among them singer Lyndsey de Paul and Stephanie La Motta and actress Nancy Andrews - Ringo collapsed in the South of France. he has peritonitis. He freely admits he "nearly died."
     Life was to have other problems for Ringo. he had to stand and watch most of his Beatle souvenirs, momentoes and many personal possesions destroyed by fire when his Los Angeles home was reduced to smouldering rubble.
     "You've no idea what its like," says Ringo. "To have to stand there and watch your house burn to the ground."
     Barbara Bach was to be the stablising influence. Now they devote their time and energy to Tittenhurst Park, which is a few furlongs away from Royal Ascot racecourse. Ringo is a familiar figure around the area.
     Locals say they never look twice now as he passes by. "There's so many celebrities here - Ringo's just one of them," says a local.
     Its an area of the country the locals call "celebrity corner". Across the tree-lined road frm Ringo's home lives Anthea redfearn.
     "The thing is you become almost immune to the stars. You see them so often the novelty soon wears off. And Ringo's such a nice guy. He always has time for a quick chat," says the local newsagent where Ringo pops in for his "ciggies."
     In a nearby car park chauffers polish the vivid contrasting hues of Ritzy Rolls Rpyce's parked in a line. A strange but normal encounter in the car park of the Little Chef that hugs the roadside less than a 100 yards away from the thick surrounding walls of Tittenhurst Park.
     The staff are used to people like Ringo walking in at all times of the day and ordering the '24-hour Breakfast Special."
     Follow the wall around Ringo's home and you stumble across the rural retreat of Sunningdale. A sleepy English village that boasts a small pub - The nag's head.
     Above the wooden bar a bottle of remy Martin brandy lies gathering dust on a shelf. "Reserved for Ringo," mutters one regular into his beer.
     Its Ringo's local but "We haven't seen him for a while," confides landlady Jean Williams. She's run the Nag's head pub for the past thirty years.
     Ringo calls her "Aunty jean" - On a wall by the bar she keeps her proudest possesion - a framed autographed colour picture of Ringo. "To Aunty Jean - Wish You Were Here - Love Ringo" is written in his familiar scrawl.
     "He used to come in here a lot," says Jean. "But we haven't seen too much of him since he got married. I think he must be under the thumb a bit," says the laughing landlady.
     "Actually when he does come here Ringo likes nothing better than a game of darts. he's quite a good player. He will come in with a friend or two and they'll have a game in the bar, or he'll challenge one of the locals.
     "I think he likes it here because nobody bothers him. He doesn't get a second look. he just comes in and orders brandy. He doesn't really drink anything else."
     Ringo is a devoted father and a proud one. His eldest son Zak is now sixteen and is being widely tipped within the music business, to become a better drummer than his father.
     Zak started playign the drums when he was very young and was always encouraged by Ringo, who has made sure that Zak "earns his dues the hard way" and isn't overshadowed by "The Beatles son" tag.
     Ringo has issued instructions that Zak and his group should learn the ropes by playing small clubs where the group aren't known.
     Zak looks the part, surrounded by a massive drumkit given to him by the late Keith Moon - one he once used with The Who.
     "Zak is quite an amazing drummer," says rock journalist Chris Charlesworth." He has the kind of animal power you associate with Keith Moon, but has the style of his Dad. I know Ringo is very proud of him. I think at first he was a bit perturbed at the thought of him going into showbusiness because I think he thought he might attract the wrong kind of hangers on, but things seem to be working out very well at the moment."
     Ringo has two other children from his first marriage - Jason aged 14 and Lee 11.
     "He takes great interest in their education," says photographer Colin Mutlow.
     "They go to a local school. he doesn't send them anywhere private, because he says that they couldn't get a better education anywhere else."
     Occasionally, Ringo will help out at the school on sports days and fund-raising events.
     "He's not there all the time, but he does take a keen interest and has done things like run in the races to raise money and signed autographs and things like that," says Mutlow.
     "Its one aspect of his life he doesn't want other people to know about though. I think he likes the fact that he can go to the school, take part in things without being hassled or his children being hassled - I'm sure that's what he likes."

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