Ringo Starr's 1964 photo mystery gives idol-hunting teens hope

Ringo Starr wants to know the identity of six teen fans captured in a snapshot he took nearly 50 years ago, giving hope to teens everywhere that their idol may one day look for them.

Lionel Cironneau/AP
Ringo Starr poses near "The Yellow Submarine", a bathyscaphe exhibited in front of oceanographic museum in Monaco, before receiving the medal of "Commander of Arts and Letters" from the France ambassador in Monaco, Hugues Moret, Sept. 24.

By seeking six mystery fans he snapped a photo of nearly 50 years ago, Ringo Starr is giving teens everywhere a powerful argument for being allowed to obsess over an idol, that someday they too might be able to brag about it to their grandkids.

“Starr wants to know if you were one of the fresh-faced kids who piled into a convertible and pulled up next to the Beatles’ moving car, trying to get the attention of what was the world’s most famous band,” according to the Miami Herald. “Starr snapped a photo of the teens – four males and two females; the sixth person is barely visible in the back seat of the car.”

Imagine the gift of Grandpa and Grandma cool points that is out there waiting to be given to the six mystery teens, now in their 60s, pictured in the now iconic photo. They may have told the story a thousand times about having seen the Fab Four but if they didn’t capture the moment on film as proof, their idol did.

At the time the photo was taken, the year before I was born, I imagine the parents of those teens would have had a fit over what mom and dad would surely have considered reckless driving and inappropriate behavior in chasing down “those long-hairs.”

I remember the celebrity obsession phase of my teenage years like it was yesterday because for me it never ended. I became a journalist and got to meet many of my idols, often using the same zany tactics I began developing as a teen seeking a handshake and a smile from an idol.

Maybe it’s the need to touch immortality or greatness. As teens we are still attracted to that light, rather than blinded by the envy we feel over not having become rich or famous ourselves.

Teens still have those rose-colored retinas that fade to gray as we age and toughen up. They are at the tipping point between Technicolor and black and white views of the world around them.

You can see that rosy vision in the eyes of the kids in the car in Starr’s photo. That picture captured all the enthusiasm of youth, all the promise and adventure.

I wonder if having that moment once upon a time had a positive effect on those six people? How did getting that close to the Fab Five affect the Mystery Six? Someone should ask that question when the folks are located.

As a teen in New Jersey I would sneak out to follow my idols, telling my mother I was at a friend’s house when in fact I was chasing down an author, actor, activist, or musician for a photo or handshake.

Sorry mom.

I met Arlo Guthrie, drank an illicit beer with Abbie Hoffman, got bear hugged by Luciano Pavarotti, all before age 20.

Those memories fuel my imagination today and so I let my sons go to concerts and listen eagerly as they tell me about how they met their idols.

A few days ago my son, Ian, 18, confided in me that he intends to begin his quest to meet his all-time idol and knowing my history asked my advice.

Let’s roll that back, my 18-year-old son A: confided in me and B: Asked for my advice.

It was difficult to keep from hugging him, crying, and dancing all at the same time.

“I have to meet Leonard Nimoy,” Ian said. “There are people who have to meet The Pope or Stephen Hawking or some random sports star but I HAVE to do this before he dies. Not before I die, before he dies. So I’m asking because we’re on the clock here Mom.”

Super. We’re in Norfolk, Virginia and Nimoy’s probably in California or on a space station somewhere.

But because I managed to meet all my heroes I believe Ian will find a way to beat the clock and the odds.

That’s what following your passion, even once in a lifetime, gives you: belief. The confirmation of belief and passion of capturing the moment is what Starr saw through his lens and what those mystery six are about to receive.

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