Ringo Starr’s Cop Car Joy Ride Through Indianapolis That Ended in a Surprise Family Visit

Of all the things one might see on a shift as an Indiana state trooper, a lone Ringo Starr asking for a joy ride in your cop car isn’t likely top of mind. But such was the case for three lucky policemen who chose to remain nameless when the Indianapolis Star first reported on the strange encounter in September 1964. (After all, there were probably rules about giving celebrities tours of the city while on duty.)

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The Beatles had made their way to the Hoosier State to perform at the State Fair Coliseum in the capital city on September 3, where they played to nearly 30,000 people. With Beatlemania on the rise, the quartet opted to stay in unsuspectingly humble accommodations at the Speedway Motel. That’s where the state troopers first encountered Starr, sitting by himself outside of the motel.

The Beatle Asked The Cops For A Tour Of The City

Per the Indianapolis Star, the Liverpudlian drummer approached the group of policemen and said, “Can’t sleep, chums. Suppose we could go for a bit of a ride in the country?” While Beatlemania was still on the rise, Starr and the rest of his bandmates were certainly well-recognized celebrities by this point, and the Indiana state troopers happily obliged.

The cops let Starr ride along in their car while they drove the Beatle past Monument Circle, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Years later, during a 1989 visit to Late Night with David Letterman, Starr admitted to getting behind the wheel of the cop car at one point. When another LEO vehicle began pursuing their cruiser, the drummer said, “We had to drive up an alley and turn the lights out to hide” (via Indianapolis Monthly).

The troopers’ initial 1964 recollection didn’t include the Brit getting into the driver’s seat of a cop car, but it did include several quips the musician made to the police officers throughout his joy ride. “When he saw the Governor’s Mansion, he asked if the fence was to keep the governor in or the people out,” one policeman recalled. 

At some point along the tour, Starr commented on the troopers’ Midwestern accents. “He said, ‘You colonists certainly have slaughtered the English language,’” the officer told the Star. “But before the ride was over, he was talking like a Hoosier.”

Ringo Starr’s Joy Ride Ended In A Surprise Family Visit

After the state troopers escorted Ringo Starr around the most notable Indianapolis sightseeing locales, one suggested they take the Beatle to their house 25 miles north of the city. The unexpected drop-in was a dream come true for the officer’s 11-year-old daughter, who reportedly stood in the kitchen doorway for most of Starr’s visit, too shy to speak. For the officer’s wife, it was just another day on the farm.

“We asked Ringo to go out to the barn where his wife was grooming three horses for show at the State Fair and tell her, ‘Get up to the house and get some breakfast for us,’” the state trooper told the Indianapolis newspaper. The wife was unfazed and replied, “You will just have to hold your horses until I finish working on mine.”

The troopers also took Starr to a diner for coffee outside of Carmel, Indiana, where fellow patrons gave mixed reactions. Some gleefully asked for autographs, others did so impatiently, and others still didn’t even believe it was actually Ringo Starr sitting at the table. One cop told the Star that they heard a couple talking to each other outside of the diner about the Beatle’s presence. The husband asked the wife, “Did you see that jerk with the Beatle wig on?”

Indeed, nothing can humble a superstar from across the pond quite like some good, old-fashioned, no-nonsense Midwestern sensibility.

Photo by John Pratt/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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