Among the many footnotes in Beatles lore has been Ringo Starr’s tenure with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The group was one of the most popular acts on the early Merseybeat scene, playing Liverpool and Hamburg, and alternating sets with The Beatles at the Kaiserkeller. Yet there’s precious little recorded evidence of the band and even less of Starr’s tenure as drummer. An Oriole label single in 1963 yielded “Dr. Feelgood” b/w “I Can Tell.” Parlophone released “America” (from West Side Story) b/w “Since You Broke My Heart” in 1964, with Brian Epstein as producer. Starr had joined the Hurricanes in 1959, but was out by August 1962, at which time he was invited to join his mates in The Beatles. The rest, as they say, is history. Earlier this year, Rockstar Records announced it would be making history of its own, when it announced the first-ever album by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, featuring Ringo Starr. The newly discovered recordings were found in the basement of Iris Caldwell, sister of Rory Storm (born Alan Caldwell in 1938) and arrived on CD late in September. The tapes, released as Live at the Jive Hive, March 1960, reportedly document a performance at the Jive Hive club in Crosby, north of Liverpool, recorded on March 5, 1960, plus four home recordings by Storm circa the same period. The plot thickened, however, when Ringo Starr denied that he appeared on the tapes.
“It’s not me,” Ringo said in a statement via his publicist shortly after the original announcement was issued by Rockstar. “That was done after I’d left to join the Beatles. I don’t know who the drummer was but I hope that Rory fans enjoy it anyway. The only two tracks I was on were recorded while we were in Germany in 1960, when we made a two-track acetate, and for those of you in the digi world that is a-ce-tate, of ‘Mailman Bring Me No More Blues,’ a Buddy Holly song sang by Lou Walters, and ‘Fever,’ and I’d love to hear those tracks ’cause I don’t have a copy.”
That still hasn’t ended the story of Live at the Jive Hive, however. There’s more after the jump including a track listing and order link!
Responding to Ringo’s statement, Proper Records has opined, “Since the release of this product Ringo Starr has commented that he does not appear on this recording, however this is now being checked and verified as he might well have [been] featured, and forgot?” Ringo himself seems off on his timeline, as he hadn’t yet left for The Beatles if the gig was, indeed, from March 5, 1960. But the best answer might have come from Beatles scholar Hans Olof Gottfridsson, revealing a particularly cruel twist of fate. The Examiner quotes Gottfridsson as saying, “The best evidence it’s not Ringo playing on this recording is the diary the band member Johnny Guitar (Byrne) kept. Assuming the recording was cut at the Jive Hive (aka St. Luke’s Hall, Crosby), March 5, 1960, it’s very unlikely it’s Ringo playing. The reason is that according to Johnny Guitar’s notes Ringo had missed out on the band’s gig at the same venue, three days earlier due to having the flu. Although the diary doesn’t tell when Ringo was back behind the drums the flu probably kept him in bed for more than three days. His replacement on March 3rd was a drummer named Don Singleton. It’s also possible it’s him, not Ringo, we can hear on the recording from March 5. Other possible contenders are Bruce Krone, Bruce Clark or Tom Moore, all listed in Johnny Guitar’s address book for 1960.” So it’s most likely that a live recording has finally surfaced from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes in the band’s prime, when Ringo was still a member – on a rare night when he was sick and unable to perform!
You can decide for yourself. Live at the Jive Hive offers seventeen slabs of rock and roll from the March 1960 show, including performances of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care,” Roy Orbison’s “Down the Line,” and a little song that will undoubtedly be familiar to the Beatles fans reading this: Carl Perkins’ “Honey Don’t.” The disc is rounded out by four home recordings, including “Milk Cow Blues,” an incomplete version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” “Now is the Hour” and the Everly Brothers’ “Cathy’s Clown.” Spencer Leigh provides liner notes and DJ/producer Adam F, Rory Storm’s nephew, offers an introduction. Numerous photographs are reprinted in the booklet, including some shots with the young Starr as part of the band.
Even without Ringo, Live at the Jive Hive is an energetic trip back to the days when Merseybeat ruled. It’s available now and can be ordered below!
Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Live at the Jive Hive: March 1960 (Rockstar RSRCD033, 2012)
- Brand New Cadillac
- (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care
- Make Me Know You’re Mine
- Bye Bye Love
- Jet Black
- Down the Line
- C’mon Everybody
- Don’t Bug Me Baby
- Rip It Up
- Somethin’ Else
- Train to Nowhere
- Since You Broke My Heart
- Honey Don’t
- All American Boy
- Willie and the Hand Jive
- Closing Announcement
- Milk Cow Blues (Home Recording)
- What’d I Say (Incomplete – Home Recording)
- Cathy’s Clown (Home Recording)
- Now is the Hour (Home Recording)