In 1968, a year after Brian Epstein set up Apple Corps – the umbrella company that would allow The Beatles to pay less tax than they would as individuals – drummer Ringo Starr set up his own venture.
Called ROR (short for 'Ringo or Robin', the latter being business partner and designer Robin Cruickshank) and run from the Apple offices on Saville Road, it was a company that made rather exclusive homeware. And in 1971, Ringo appeared on The BBC's flagship children's show Blue Peter to talk about their goods.
On the show, Starr took host John Noakes through some of ROR's catalogue: a stainless steel shelf set built around an eight-foot steel column with a removal occasional table/storage unit perched on top; a small chrome-plated storage box; a reversible perspex desk ornament filled with dangerous liquid mercury ("Perspex, I like as much as steel," explains Ringo), and a kinetic sculpture called 'Another One' (described in the original literature as a "mercury filled object containing zigzagging discs powered by a small motor which sits in the opaque light box underneath and all housed in a transparent perspex case”). IKEA, this was not.
The final piece of furniture shared by Starr was a unique coffee table made from a pair of Rolls Royce radiators.
"The radiators are very hard to come by," says Starr, "because you phone up Rolls and they say 'Well, what's the chassis number?' So they're very hard to get, but we found this man who got them – I don't know how he got them – but he sold them to us. He ran in with them in a little bag and said, 'give me money' and off he went."
ROR were a success, although a couple of commissions became somewhat tainted. They worked on a Marylebone penthouse belonging to property developer and pornographer Paul Raymond – an alleged venue for various coke-fulled orgies – and on the Mayfair flat of Harry Nilsson, where Mama Cass died in 1974. Four years later Keith Moon followed suit in the same room, and, distraught, Nilsson sold the property to Pete Townshend.
More happily, they worked with British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, actor Christopher Plummer, Rod Stewart, billionaire industrialist Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, David Bowie and Elton John, and in 1982 they received a $10million commission to redesign the interior of the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi. As if being drummer in The Beatles wasn't enough.