A couple of days ago we posted about when Ringo Starr collapsed with tonsillitis…

Written by on June 18, 2018


A couple of days ago we posted about when Ringo Starr collapsed with tonsillitis and was hospitalised on the eve of The Beatles’ 1964 world tour. Here’s how it ended.

The band’s manager Brian Epstein and their producer George Martin discussed using a stand-in drummer, rather than canceling part of the tour. Martin suggested Jimmie Nicol, a drummer he had recently worked with and who had been the session drummer on some cover recordings of Beatles songs. It took some convincing, but the band finally agreed to use Jimmy until Ringo could return.

Nicol’s first concert with The Beatles took place just 27 hours later on June 4th at the KB Hallen in Copenhagen, Denmark. The tour then went on to Australia.

When the band arrived in Australia, they were met by thousands of screaming fans, they rode in limos, the whole rock star trip. Jimmy played a total of eight shows until Starr rejoined the group in Melbourne, Australia, on June 14th.

As soon as Ringo was in the country, they sent Jimmy home. He was unable to say goodbye to any of The Beatles as they were still asleep when he left, and he did not want to disturb them. At Melbourne airport, Epstein presented him with a cheque for £500 and a gold Eterna-matic wrist watch inscribed: “From The Beatles and Brian Epstein to Jimmy – with appreciation and gratitude.”

George Martin later paid tribute to Nicol and acknowledged the problems he experienced in trying to re-adjust to a normal life again: ‘Jimmie Nicol was a very good drummer who came along and learnt Ringo’s parts very well. He did the job excellently, and faded into obscurity immediately afterwards.’ Paul McCartney said: ‘It wasn’t an easy thing for Jimmy to stand in for Ringo, and have all that fame thrust upon him. And the minute his tenure was over, he wasn’t famous any more.’ Nicol himself expressed his disillusionment several years later: ‘Standing in for Ringo was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Until then I was quite happy earning £30 or £40 a week. After the headlines died, I began dying too.’ He resisted the temptation to sell his story, stating in a rare 1987 interview: ‘After the money ran low, I thought of cashing-in in some way or other. But the timing wasn’t right. And I didn’t want to step on The Beatles’ toes. They had been damn good for me and to me.’

Here is a picture of Jimmy, now an-X Beatle, waiting for his plane to take him back to the UK 54 years ago today.

It had to be on hell of a ride, short as it was.




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