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Ringo Starr Had to Issue a Statement After Thousands of Fans Asked to Keep His Tonsils




  • Ringo Starr had several health issues growing up.
  • Fans wrote in asking Ringo Starr if they could have his tonsils.
  • A different fan stole the hair off Ringo Starr’s head.
Ringo Starr and George Harrison | Whittaker/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1964, Ringo Starr had a tonsillectomy, and Beatles fans waited to hear hourly bulletins with updates on his condition. The surgery went well, and thousands of fans wrote in to ask Starr for his tonsils. In response, Starr had to issue a statement informing fans exactly what he would do with his tonsils.

The Beatles drummer dealt with health issues throughout his life

When Starr was six years old, he had an appendectomy. After the procedure, he contracted peritonitis and fell into a coma, leaving him in the hospital for a year.

The lengthy stay in the hospital caused Starr to fall behind in school. With tutoring and hard work, he managed to catch up to his classmates, but in 1953, he contracted tuberculosis. While recovering from this illness, he had to stay in a sanitorium for two years. 

Starr also has allergies to onions, garlic, and various spices, preventing him from eating foods like pizza. 

Ringo Starr had to tell fans that they couldn’t have his tonsils

In 1964, when Beatlemania was at its height, Starr collapsed during a photo shoot and was diagnosed with tonsillitis. Later that year, he had surgery to remove his tonsils. As with everything The Beatles did, the surgery was a huge news story. Fans nervously awaited hourly bulletins keeping them updated on his condition. The switchboard at the hospital was jammed with the sheer number of calls coming in.

Fans calling The Official Beatles’ Fan Club received a prerecorded message about Starr.


“Hello there. Ringo’s condition is improving all the time,” the recording said, per the book Ringo: With a Little Help by Michael Seth Starr. “His personal physician is seeing him regularly, and he’s telling me that Ringo is making excellent progress. He’s been eating lightly boiled eggs, jelly, ice cream and warm tea, and the doctor says Ringo is a cheerful and very helpful patient. There will be a further weekend bulletin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.”

A black and white picture of Ringo Starr sitting in bed and George Harrison resting his hand on his head.
Ringo Starr and George Harrison | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Thousands of fans also wrote in asking to keep the tonsils. This forced Starr to issue a statement about them.

“I am going to have them burned,” he said, per The Washington Post. “No one is getting them, believe me.”

One of Ringo Starr’s fans snipped the hair off his head

Starr’s fans also wanted the hair from his head, and one of them successfully got it. At a party at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., a fan approached Starr and began cutting his hair off.

“Most of the people didn’t relate to music in any shape or form,” he said, per NME. “After they had a few drinks they got really silly and one guy decided he’d cut a lock of my hair off. I just started screaming at him and we didn’t stay there long. These diplomats just don’t know how to behave.”

Source: Cheat Sheet


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