Before donning the mop-top and suit as the drummer of the Beatles, Ringo Starr scored his first gig as a member of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Though they were one of the most popular Merseybeat bands in Liverpool, the Hurricanes only released a few singles and never dropped an album. That will all change at the end of the month, as recordings that are 50+ years old will be salvaged and cast loose.
Found in the basement of Storm’s sister Iris Caldwell, the tapes were recorded in March 1960 and include tracks recorded at the Jive Hive club in Crosby and at Storm’s house, known as “Stormsville.” No official release date for this uncovered recording of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes has been announced, but they are due out by the end of the month.
“I suppose these tapes have been in an old sealed box ever since [they were recorded],” Caldwell told the BBC.
Starr, then credited under his birth name Richard Starkey, joined the band in 1959 at the age of 18. Though they never achieved success remotely near to the Beatles, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were considered one of the most influential and important bands in Liverpool at the time.
Spencer Leigh, author and the host of the BBC‘s “Radio Merseyside,” believes the band was “crucial to the early years of Merseybeat,” adding “even though the playing is very rough and ready, they have tremendous presence and were probably considerably better than the Beatles were in March 1960.”
Starr would stay with the band until 1962 before he was recruited by manager Brian Epstein to join the Beatles. After Starr’s departure, the band hosted a long list of drummers who came and went, including Gibson Kemp, Brian Johnson, John Morrison, Ian Broad, and Trevor Morais.
Though he was not the strong songwriter like Starr’s new bandmates Paul McCartney and John Lennon, frontman Rory Storm became famously known for his onstage antics, preempting the style of legends like Rod Stewart.
“Rory was so far ahead of his time. He was doing glam rock then,” said Caldwell.
Of the original members of the Hurricanes (Storm [vocals], Johnny “Guitar” Byrne [rhythm guitar], Ty O’Brien [lead guitar], Lu Walters [bass guitar/vocals], and Starr), only Ringo and Lu Walters are alive, though Walters’ whereabouts are unknown. Storm passed away in 1972, found dead in “Stormsville” at the age of 33. Sleeping pills and alcohol were found in his system but were not not attributed to his death.
- E.J. Judge, WCBS-FM