Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach were married in London on April 27, 1981. The marriage license identified the couple as Richard Starkey and Barbara Goldback, but to hundreds of fans who jostled for a glimpse of them outside London’s Marylebone Register Office, they are known as Ringo Starr, The Beatles‘ drummer, and Barbara Bach, an American actress.
Bach wore a cream-colored wedding dress trimmed in roses. The couple, who each have children by previous marriages, have been together for more than a year. They have said they became convinced they were destined to stay together after narrowly escaping death in an automobile accident in May.
Ringo Starr met Barbara Bach on the set of the prehistoric comedy called “Caveman”. Bach was cast in the part of Lana and Ringo was cast as the leading man. When Bach arrived at the airport in LA to meet the rest of the cast, Starr spotted her and instantly fell in love. But his already complicated love life stopped him from doing anything about it. He was already engaged to an American publicity agent (Nancy Andrews) and was in the process of getting back with his first wife, Maureen Starr, in England. During a party thrown the night before leaving LA to begin the location work for the film, it was obvious that Bach had feelings for him too. However, like Starr, Bach was also involved in a relationship.
In Mexico, work began on a scene where Atouk – played by Ringo – had to seduce Lana in her sleep. It was very complicated to work out exactly what would take place, and Starr and Bach had to spend many hours together with the director planning the shooting for the next day. The following morning Ringo and Bach returned to the set to film the scene and the script supervisor – taking note of the way they were glowing, holding hands and gazing into each others eyes – remarked to everyone “Look, they’re in love”.
Per Bach, “I was never that much of a Beatles fan, which made it easier. I just treated him like anyone else. As time went on, however, I was touched by his generosity. He is so patient and understanding. Let me give you an example. Ritchie can’t swim, but there’s a scene where he has to rescue me from a river. Carl said they could use a stunt man, but it’d be better if Ritchie jumped in. So he jumps. By the time he reaches me, he’s headed for the bottom. And when we get to the rock I’m literally pushing him up.”
On the last day of filming he escorted her to a Valentine’s Day dance. But it was when he took her to the Monaco Grand Prix that she really realized that she had fallen for him. “When Ringo invited me to his home in Monte Carlo to watch the Monaco Grand Prix I didn’t hesitate a second. It seemed totally natural.”
On the evening of May 19, 1980 Ringo was driving Barbara along the dual carriageway of the Kingston bypass to a party in Surrey and had to swerve, at 60 mph, to avoid hitting a lorry. There had been a downpour that day and the road was slippery, sending them on a fifty-yard somersaulting skid in which they rammed two lampposts. Ringo ignored his leg injury to pull Barbara safely out of the car, and then headed back to retrieve his cigarettes. By the time they reached Roehampton hospital to get Barbara’s cuts bruises and painful back sorted out, Ringo had decided he never wanted to be separated from Bach ever again. He had the wreckage of his Mercedes crushed into a cube as a display piece and had tiny fragments of the windscreen set into lockets for him and Barbara to wear. Three weeks later, Bach told her father that she was going to marry Ringo.
While the happy couple were vacationing in the Bahamas, they received a telephone call from Bach’s daughter Francesca. She broke the news to them that John Lennon had died. After making a phone call to Ringo’s ex-wife Maureen in Maida Vale to let her and Cynthia Lennon know about it, they caught the next flight to New York via Miami so that they could offer condolences to Yoko Ono. On arrival at the Dakota, Ono insisted she would only speak to Ringo while Barbara waited in another room, but Ringo gently explained that he and Bach were now one and the same, just like she and John had been… and still were.
Despite the fact that it was common knowledge that Bach and Starr were living in leased house of Sunset Strip, Barbara denied any marriage plans in her January interview with Playboy, saying she couldn’t “imagine why I would ever get married again. The way I am now, if I want to be with someone, I’ll be with that person but I see no reason to carry his name as well.”
She also made it clear that she had never been much of a Beatles fan:
“I don’t think I could have named five of their songs a year ago. I was never really into music, though I am now – up to my ears. I’m surrounded by it because Richard is making another album.”
Now that he had Bach, Ringo was ready to rejuvenate his musical career. Barbara was his inspiration and also his motivation: “She kicked me up off my ass and got me recording again.”
On April 27, 1981 Barbara became the second Mrs. Richard Starkey at a ceremony in Marylebone Register Office performed by Joseph Jevons, who years earlier had married Paul and Linda McCartney in the same building. The McCartneys and Harrisons were guests at the wedding and reception at Rags (in Mayfair). Bach’s wedding dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel (who also created Princess Diana’s wedding dress). The wedding cake was in the shape of a star.
From that day on they vowed to do everything together, so any project they undertook had to involve both of them. They never left each other even when doing interviews, traveled everywhere together, and only took parts in film and TV shows where there were parts for both of them – such as Paul McCartney‘s film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” and Princess Daisy. As time went by they found it harder and harder to find projects where both of them could be involved–and ones they were both highly motivated about. In 1989, Ringo said that in those days they would “sit around for hours and talk about what we were going to do- and, of course, I’d get so bleeding drunk, I couldn’t move. The result was – nothing happened.”
By 1988, they were in real trouble, as a friend explained:
“Their biggest problem was alcohol. They’ve both been drinking heavily every day for years. Ringo and Barbara also are cocaine users. Ringo had been snorting up to a gram of coke a day and Barbara said she’d been using about half a gram daily. In addition, Ringo has a history of free basing (smoking cocaine). He also smoked marijuana every day and used hallucinogenics, mushrooms and downers. Ringo said that since they’d been married virtually all they’ve done is sit in a room and use drugs. Barbara revealed that it was the number one priority in their lives – more important than family, more important than each other, more important than anything. Both said they were convinced they were gonna die unless they got help.”
At the lowest point Ringo was waking up from blackouts in which he’d destroyed everything around him, yet couldn’t remember a thing. One day he woke up from one of these blackouts to find he’s also attacked his wife. “I trashed Barbara so bad I thought she was dead. They just found her covered in blood and I’d beaten her up and I’d no idea…”.
He immediately decided it was time they sorted themselves out and got Bach to book them into a rehabilitation clinic. Ringo was so paranoid from his coke use that he refused to let her out of his sight for a minute, so the couple insisted on being in the same room at the start of the treatment (which no treatment center would allow).
In October of 1988, the Sierra Tucson Rehabilitation Clinic gave in to their demands when Barbara pleaded: “Please, if you don’t help us we’re going to die.” After finishing the detoxification program they were assigned to separate rooms. The pair have been drug and alcohol free ever since.
Bach has put her acting career on hold for a while saying that “No work has been offered to me that is worth two or three months separation from my family .” She seems content to spend her time involved in whatever projects her husband currently has lined up. “I don’t want to go back to full time working. I’ve learned to love just being with the family.” Ringo seems to need her support in whatever he is doing.
Her husband frequently makes jokes about the time she spends shopping – “I hate going to Paris, whenever Barbara goes shopping in Paris I have to get another job!” – but Barbara finds many worthy things to occupy her time. She involves herself in a great deal of Charity work, including the Live Aid connected “Fashion Aid”, and the Rumanian Angel appeal which was set up with Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney. While the others concentrated on getting the money coming in, Barbara spent a lot of time checking to make sure that the funds were used effectively. “It’s made such a difference. In one orphanage I visited, the walls have been cheerfully painted with flowers and the alphabet and there were sinks and toilets.”
Barbara worked alongside Olivia again in the “Parents For Safe Food” Campaign. In 1991 with help from Pattie Boyd, she set up a free clinic for addicts called SHARP (Self Help Addiction Recovery Program) in London that used the Minnesota method. Compared with her former career, Barbara said this direction had “more meaning – and, in the future I’ll probably do some counseling.” Barbara received a Masters Degree in Psychology from UCLA in 1993.