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Ringo in Chicago: A Fab 4 Things You May Not Know About New Hall of Famer

By DNAinfo Staff | April 17, 2015 5:46am | Updated on April 17, 2015 7:42am

DOWNTOWN — In honor of Ringo Starr's entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist this weekend, we present four things you may not know about the former Beatles drummer and our fair city.

Fab 1: William Ludwig III, whose father started the Wm. F. Ludwig Drum Company in Chicago, was watching the Ed Sullivan show when the Beatles performed in 1964. At first, he thought the Beatles were a comedy act but then noticed the drummer was playing one of the family-made instruments. There on Ringo's bass drum "was my name," Ludwig said in the book "The History of the Ludwig Drum Company."

The drums didn't typically come with the Ludwig name on the front. But a sales agent in England told Ludwig that he was "so proud that he had an imported drum set from America that he insisted on having the Ludwig name printed on the head." Starr happened to buy one, referred to as an Oyster Black Pearl.

After Ringo made the kit famous, retailers demanded that the Ludwig name be put on them. The family was reluctant at first Ludwig said, because "it seemed ostentatious."

In 1964, company sales were $6.1 million. Two years later they were $13.1 million as the factory on Damen Avenue hummed. The Ed Sullivan show, Ludwig later said, was "the appearance that launched a thousand purchase orders."

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Note the Ludwig drum. (CBS)

Fab 2: Later in 1964, the Beatles came to Chicago to play and Ludwig created a gold-plated snare as a gift. "He held the drum and they took the pictures. I introduced him to my daughter who was 16 at the time and absolutely astounded at the event," Ludwig said.

Starr held on to the drum and, in 2010, it was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Starr still plays drums from Ludwig, which is now based in Indiana.

Ringo Starr is presented with a special gold-plated drum in Chicago in 1964. (Ludwig Drum Co.)

Fab 3: In 1966, the Beatles held a pair of press conferences in Chicago. Most the conversation was directed at John Lennon over remarks he had made earlier comparing the band with Christianity.

Ringo was mostly quiet in those press conferences. It was an antagonistic press corp, suggesting that the controversy might be "an attempt to raise your flagging popularity" as one reporter put it. The Beatles were asked if their changing look was motivated for the same reason.

"No, it's just we don't control ourselves that much," Starr said.

Asked why he had been seen at the airport with a drum set when another set that had been billed as his was displayed a few weeks earlier at a "World Teenage" show in Chicago, Ringo paused and then replied: "I hope they're both mine."

Fab 4: On July 7, 2008, Starr celebrated his 68th birthday at the Hard Rock Hotel here. His wish was for everyone to flash the peace sign at noon. Some 300 people showed up.

"It's a fantasy, and it's a dream I have," Starr said according to the Tribune, "that one minute, one day, one month, one year, everyone will go peace and love."

He's been celebrating his birthday the same way ever since.

Ringo Starr celebrates his 71st birthday with a peace sign. (Getty Images)

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