Maureen “Mo” Starkey
Born Mary Cox on August 4, 1946, in Liverpool, England, “Mo” lived a relatively ordinary life until she crossed paths with a young Richard Starkey — known as Ringo Starr — at the Cavern Club in 1962 while she was training to become a hairdresser. Their meeting marked the beginning of a whirlwind romance that would eventually lead to marriage in February 1965, in the midst of the Beatles’ fame.
Maureen was present throughout the Beatles’ meteoric rise to stardom, often accompanying her husband on tour and witnessing firsthand the hysteria and adulation that surrounded the band. She was a part of the Beatles’ inner circle, along with the other wives and girlfriends, providing a sense of stability and support in the midst of the chaos.
Maureen made an appearance on a Beatles record in 1968, when she sang the female vocal parts of “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” with Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney on the band’s 1968 epic The Beatles (known colloquially as “The White Album”). She can also be seen enthusiastically enjoying the rooftop concert in Get Back and is name checked by Paul McCartney at the end of the final performance of “Get Back” when he addresses her loud applause with a simple “Thanks, Mo.”
Maureen and Ringo’s marriage was not without its challenges, as the intense pressures of fame took a toll on their relationship. The constant touring and public scrutiny placed strains on their marriage, and they faced their fair share of ups and downs, including numerous accusations of infidelity. The Starrs’ marriage ended not long after the Beatles themselves, as Ringo’s continued alcoholism and infidelity became too much for the couple to to bear. When the Harrisons were visiting the Starrs, George confessed his love for Maureen, which later led to an affair. Ringo threatened divorce when Harrison’s wife Pattie told him that she had found the pair in bed together. Lennon was equally angry with Harrison, describing the affair as being “virtual incest”.
Tragically, Maureen Starkey passed away in December 1994 at the age of 48 after a battle with leukemia, treatment of which included a bone marrow transplant from her son, Zak, who then donated blood platelets and white blood cells. Her untimely death was a profound loss not only for her family but also for the extended Beatles family and the legions of fans who had grown to love and admire her.
Maureen Starkey was more than just the wife of a Beatle; she was a witness to history, a source of support during tumultuous times, and a reminder of the human side of the Fab Four. Her life serves as a testament to the often-overlooked individuals who play crucial roles behind the scenes in the world of music and entertainment.
Her life was marked by love, loyalty, and resilience in the face of the unique challenges that come with being married to a rock legend. While her name may not be as widely recognized as those of the Beatles themselves, her impact on their lives and the Beatles’ story is undeniable. Maureen Starkey deserves to be remembered as more than just the wife of a Beatle; she was an integral part of the Beatles’ journey and an unsung hero in the world of music.