In 1968, Apple’s Peter Brown persuaded Frank Sinatra to record a version of The Lady Is A Tramp for Maureen’s 22nd birthday. The songwriter Sammy Cahn rewrote Lorenzo Hart’s original lyrics as Maureen Is A Champ, and Sinatra recorded it with Bill Miller on piano and sent the tapes to London.

No more than a handful of discs were pressed before the master tape was destroyed, and Ringo presented the surprised and delighted Maureen with a copy on 4 August 1968.

Frank called me one time and said, ‘Ringo Starr’s getting married and his bride is my number one fan and is also having her birthday, and I want you to write something that I could sing to her.’ So I wrote special lyrics for Ringo’s bride, Maureen. This is Sinatra singing to her, with special lyrics by me.
Sammy Cahn

The record, believed to have had the catalogue number Apple 1, is one of the rarest artefacts in The Beatles’ and Sinatra’s history, and any copies which reached the open market would be worth a considerable amount. A poor-quality recording of the song has, however, been widely circulated by bootleggers.

There’s no one like her, but no one at all
And as for charm, hers is like wall to wall
She married Ringo, and she could have had Paul
That’s why the lady is a champ

Creates excitement whenever it’s dull
She just appears and there goes the lull
She merely smiles and you’re out of your skull
That’s why the lady is a champ

The folks who do and don’t meditate
Agree she’s great
They mean, Maureen
I’ve got more lyrics right after this vamp
Because the lady is a champ

Though we’ve not met I’m convinced she’s a gem
I’m just FS but to me she’s Big M
Mainly because she prefers to me to them
That’s why the lady is a champ.

I’ve lots of fans – well, at least one or two
But Peter Brown called me to tell me its true
She sleeps with Ringo but she thinks of you
That’s why the lady is a champ.

But I can boast, boast as much
As much as I please,
The fact is that she’s his wife
But that’s life
But it’s her day so I whistle and stamp
Because the lady, the charming lady, Mr Ringo’s lady, is a champ.

As The Beatles neared their break-up, the Starkeys’ relationship also hit rocky times. George Harrison suddenly confessed his deep love for Maureen one a night at the Starkeys’ home. The revelation of George’s affair with Maureen put pressure on both their marriages, although Maureen said she didn’t want a divorce from Ringo.

The marriage gradually deteriorated, however, and on 17 July 1975 their divorce was finalized on the grounds of Ringo’s affair with American model Nancy Lee Andrews. In her book John, Cynthia Lennon revealed how the devastated Maureen rode a motorbike at high speed into a wall, requiring cosmetic surgery to repair her facial injuries.

Despite their failed marriage, Ringo and Maureen remained close and retained a strong family unit with their children. They never resumed their relationship, however, and in 1989 she married businessman Isaac Tigrett, founder of the Hard Rock Cafe and House Of Blues. The couple had one daughter together, Augusta King Tigrett, born on 4 January 1987.

Maureen died on 30 December 1994 in Seattle, Washington, at the age of 48. She had been suffering from leukemia, and had received a bone marrow transplant from her son Zak. Her mother Flo, Isaac Tigrett and Ringo Starr and her four children were by her bedside when she died.

Paul McCartney wrote a song for her memory. Little Willow appeared on his 1997 album Flaming Pie, and was dedicated to Maureen’s children.

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