Ringo had it all. About 6-foot-1-or-2, 270 pounds, the strength of a bull, the soul of a poet and on occasion, a pillar of his adopted community. A Renaissance man.

Unfortunately, Ringo Coming-Out-For-Spring was a Sioux from Pine Ridge, S.D., his adopted neighborhood was what they call in Seattle "Skid Road" and the chasm between the reservation and the street is something unbridgeable.

Ringo died last week. He was 35.

He had been a bouncer, a social worker, a drinker, maybe a Marine, possibly a biker, a wood carver and a poet.

So you ask me what life is brother,

I've tasted the bitter and the sweet

I've become a man, and touched God's hand

And stood on my own two feet

I've worked in coal mines reeked with sweat,

And tasted the devil's tears.

I've searched for love and hid from death

For almost twenty-seven years

I've wasted my life like you waste a coin

In an empty wishing well

And watched the sun flow striped

In my empty prison cell.

So you ask me what life is brother,

I've tasted the bitter and the sweet

And I'll smile and say it's wonderfuul

Because I've stood on my own two feet.

"He went into a coma," said Dr. Pat Mattingly, a doctor at the Seattle Indian Health Board. "He'd been chronically ill the past year."

The doctor was reluctant to discuss the exact cause of death, although it was clearly the cumulative effects of liquor. He preferred talking about the successes rather than failures. Ringo was trapped between the tribe and society's place for him, which often is nowhere, he said.

"He represented the problem that a very talented and introspective person faces in dealing with a cultural situation he can't reconcile," he said.

Specifics often are hard to come by on The Avenue - First Avenue - where fantasy and reality cloud one another in the booze-rank haze.

"Met him in '62-63," said Rubie Label, who gave up his pawn shop on First Avenue to manage the Frye Apartments and its lonely pensioners.

"Said he was in Marines, but many things down here you take with a grain of salt. I would call him qualify people," said Label.

Like most the Skid Road, Ringo's past was cloudy. He'd had two or three wives - no one seemed to know exactly - and some kids. The tatoos were typical of a biker, and the knife stars lacing his gut sometimes were displayed like medals of honor. That was the other side of Ringo.

"It was a violent life, but he reveled in it," said Rubie. "He could go into any bar. Don't think he had to pay because they knew if anything happened, he was right there. He never hurt anybody . . . unless they were asking for it," Rubie remembered.

But my thoughts fade fast into past.

And again I can see the glow

Of the sun so clear as it presses near

And I'll never be free I know. His paintings were quite good," said the doctor. "He had so much talent, but on the other hand, he is an unfortunate example of what has happened to a lot of talented Indian people."

"He had a booze problem, definitely," said George Wright, a member of the Klamath tribe, who kicked the bottle himself and is counseling for the Seattle Indian Alcoholism program. "I don't think he ever did go to the detox (detoxification). That was below his dignity."

Wright, who must cope with hardened boozers daily, said "Dignity" with a satiric edge that made it sound like a failure.

"He had a strong sense of who he was, a strong sense of Indian. Pride. That was his identity," said the Rev. Wes Durland at the First Avenue service center. "He was a reference point for all kinds of people, and Indian people who needed something to reflect on. He was really folklore walking around.

"You always knew who Ringo was going to be," said Durland. "Some people down here tend to a switch roles, depending on where the game is. Ringo didn't give a damn about the game. He'd move into anybody's thing without upsetting it, then move back out again. If I needed something, somebody, I'd tap Ringo."

From time to time, Ringo worked with the unemployed and the dispossessed at the Seattle Indian Center.

"He was a likeable person," said Ella Aquino, at the center. "Everyone who came in asked for Ringo. He understood their problem . . . but didn't seem to be able to lick his own."

Views of Ringo's problem differed.

"I've never seen him drunk," said Label. "I've seen him loaded, but there's a difference. He was a heavy drinker."

The Minister said, "I hadn't seen him where drinking cut him out of functioning."

Ultimately, though, it did, and Ringo began sliding downhill. "Cultural disintegration," theorized Durland. "Indians, coming from nowhere, going nowhere. All the controlling cultural patterns have disintegrated."

"Ringo was a fascinating man," said the doctor, "and, in his own right, Indian or not had a lot to say."

But I wish i could show you some of the guys he used to drink with who are no longer drinking. Talented people trying to find an avenue. Like Ernie Turner, an absolute, severe alcoholic for 20 years. Now he's one of the leading spokesmen in the country on Indian alcoholism programs.

"Ringo's tragedy is the fact that he, despite his talent, missed that. He just couldn't get out."

Ringo died in the town named for Chief Seattle, who wrote:

Tribe follows tribe and nation follows nations

like the waves of the sea.

It is the order of nature

And regret is useles.