A Beatles sculpture was decapitated following an ‘insult to Liverpool’ during a chat show
In the year Liverpool celebrated being awarded the European Capital of Culture, a new Beatles sculpture was vandalized after a perceived insult to the city.
In 2008, as Liverpool showed their best to the world, comments by former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr on Jonathan Ross’ chat show reportedly sparked “outrage” among Liverpool residents. After the television appearance, a saboteur took matters into his own hands and gave the newly placed topiary sculpture of the famous mop-top an extremely short back and sides.
The controversial comments came on BBC One’s Friday Night show with Jonathan Ross in January 2008. When asked by the host what he misses most about Liverpool, Ringo replied: “um, no. …”.
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The legendary drummer, who lives in Los Angeles, also had homes in England and Monaco. He went on to say that he loved the town as it was where his family was and where he grew up, but his flippant response was not well received.
Three months after his appearance on BBC One aired, a vandal struck – severing Ringo’s head – leaving the leafy figures of John, Paul and George intact. The sculpture had been unveiled a month earlier at Liverpool’s South Parkway transport interchange in Garston.
The piece was created by Italian sculptor Franco Covill and had been commissioned by Merseytravel. In 2011, Ringo Starr reportedly apologized for saying he didn’t miss anything from his hometown in the interview.
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The ex-Beatle, who was embarking on a UK tour that included a gig at the Empire in Liverpool, said in a BBC interview that he didn’t think he offended people in Liverpool with his 2008 remarks. He told a BBC interviewer: ‘I apologize to these people (who have been offended), as long as they live in Liverpool, not outside’, adding: ‘No real Scouser is offended, only I believe people from the outside.”
This isn’t the first time Starr’s comments have sparked controversy. Also in 2008, the ex-Beatle posted a video message on his website saying he would not be signing any more memorabilia and fan mail would be discarded. He later explained that his decision was prompted by people selling the signed items on eBay.
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The beheading of the sculpture isn’t the only time a Beatles-themed artwork has been vandalized. In 2019, the statue of Eleanor Rigby, sculpted by Tommy Steel, which sits on Stanley Street in Liverpool city center had its plaque stolen.
Now, 14 years after Ringo’s topiary was vandalized following his comments, the Liverpool Echo has returned to the Beatles sculpture outside South Parkway to see if his head has been restored. Sadly, as the photographs show, Franco Covill’s tribute to the Fab Four has seen better days.
Do you remember when Ringo Starr’s topiary sculpture lost its mind? Let us know in the comments section below.
It is now nearly impossible to discern if any of the Beatles figures are fully intact, such is the overgrown state of the sculpture. More amorphous today than the portrayals of John, Paul, George and Ringo in their heyday, Ringo’s “Beatles” drumming can still be made out among the undergrowth.
Time, in addition to obscuring the sculpture, also seems to be a healer. In March 2022, a giant mural of Ringo Starr appeared on the side of the Empress pub in Toxteth which is set to be turned into a Beatles themed hotel.