When Ringo Starr Married Barbara Bach
They met when Ringo Starr was well past the height of fame, and then struggled through years of dependency. But Barbara Bach's unlikely pairing with the former Beatles star endured, despite their early struggles.
Things actually started in a low-key manner. They were married in a civil ceremony – rather than a splashy gala – on April 27, 1981, at the Marylebone Register Office in London. Bach, a model and former Bond girl, says it's lasted for similarly straight-forward reasons. "I love the man," she told People, "and that's it."
Still, trouble loomed for the couple.
Starr had been divorced for some five years from first wife Maureen when he met Bach on the set of a flop movie in which Ringo performed a wordless lead. Something sparked between the two, however, even as Caveman quickly disappeared from theaters after its release – held just 10 days before their nuptials.
Starr's solo career, which had reached high tide with 1973's platinum-selling smash Ringo, was in similar shambles. Bad luck seemed to follow him. He and Bach, at one point, were nearly struck by lightning – prompting a long-unissued track titled "You Can't Fight Lightning," originally slated for release on 1981's Stop and Smell the Roses. By 1982, Starr was without a label for the first time in his professional career.
Starr and Bach descended into a lengthy period of Hollywood debauchery. "We used to go on long plane journeys, rent huge villas, stock up the bars, hide and get deranged," they wrote in the foreword to former Beatles press officer Derek Taylor's book Getting Sober ... and Loving It. That's how they spent the balance of the '80s, as Starr replaced cognac with brandy Alexanders and then with wine. At one point, Ringo was said to be washing pills down with 16 bottles a day. Along the way, he released just one more album – 1983's Old Wave, which failed to chart anywhere.
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“I got involved with a lot of different medications and you can listen to my records go downhill as the amount of medication went up,” Starr once said. “I’ve got photographs of me playing all over the world but I’ve absolutely no memory of it. I played Washington with the Beach Boys – or so they tell me. But there’s only a photo to prove it.”
Finally, in 1988, they agreed to enter rehab at a clinic in Tuscon, Ariz., but only after a truly frightening moment. "I came to one Friday afternoon," Starr told the Independent, "and was told by the staff that I had trashed the house so badly they thought there had been burglars, and I'd trashed Barbara so badly they thought she was dead."
Slowly but surely, Starr put his marriage, his career and his life back together. In 1989, just six months after getting clean and sober, he launched the long-running All-Starr Band tours. He's since released a series of new albums, including 2015's Postcards From Paradise which memorably featured contributions from All-Starr Band members like Steve Lukather and Todd Rundgren.
Strengthened by adversity, Starr and Bach went on to split their time between homes in far-flung places like Monaco and Los Angeles, seemingly as happy as ever. Her sister Majorie later married Ringo's friend Joe Walsh, and Starr and Walsh began working together regularly. "I think I love Barbara as much [today] as I did [when we met]," Starr told People in 2015, "and I'm beyond blessed that she loves me and we're still together."
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