LEE STARKEY WAS BORN IN 1970—THE year the Beatles split up. She didn’t see the swooning fans on The Ed Sullivan Show and never questioned whether Paul was dead. As far as she was concerned, her father, Ringo Starr, was just another guy in a rock group. “It wasn’t like a really big thing,” she says. “I went to school with lots of people whose parents were in bands. I knew one of the Hollies’ daughters.”
Even now, when other rock legends’ children—Chynna Phillips, Carnie and Wendy Wilson and Gunnar and Matthew Nelson—are building megacareers with their parents’ names, Starkey, 20, doesn’t call attention to her roots. “I generally don’t tell anyone who my father is,” says Lee, who was raised in London by her mother, Maureen, after her parents’ 1975 divorce. “I didn’t know that much about the Beatles, so I kept my mouth shut.”
Starkey is more comfortable talking about her own burgeoning career as co-owner of Planet Alice, a psychedelic boutique she opened last month with partner Christian Paris on L.A.’s trendy Melrose Avenue. Though it is stocked with what she describes as ” ’90s interpretations of ’60s styles,” Starkey says, “I didn’t consciously do this because it’s what the Beatles wore in their heyday, but it must have had something to do with it.”
For his part, Ringo is glad that Lee, who didn’t ask him for financial help, “finally found something to put herself into,” he says. “She tried acting school and decided she didn’t like that. She got her diploma from makeup school and wasn’t really enthusiastic about that.”
She even tried the drums. “But I wasn’t too good at it,” Starkey admits. Older brothers Zak, 25, and Jason, 23, became the drummers in the family, while Lee persuaded her pal Paris to relocate his Planet Alice shop from London’s Portobello Road to Hollywood.
Waiting for her on these shores was her mother, who moved to L.A. last year after marrying Isaac Tigrett, cofounder of the Hard Rock Cafe empire. (The couple have a 4-year-old daughter, Augusta.) Lee and Paris, who say their partnership is platonic, are living chez Tigrett until they find places of their own.
“We’ve always been very family oriented,” says Lee, who spent childhood summers with her father at his estate at Ascot, where she occasionally encountered the other Beatles. Her parents remain on friendly terms, and Ringo and wife Barbara Bach, as well as Maureen and Tigrett, were on hand for the Planet Alice opening.
For now, Lee is concentrating on running the shop. She has even arm-twisted Mom into helping out one day a week. Dad hasn’t made that commitment, but his presence will surely be felt every time the cash register goes ring-o.