Arts feature

Ringo's no joke. He was a genius and the Beatles were lucky to have him

On the eve of his 75th birthday, it's time to celebrate the musical contribution Ringo Starr made to the Fab Four

4 July 2015

9:00 AM

4 July 2015

9:00 AM

‘He was the most influential Beatle,’ Yoko Ono recently claimed. When Paul and John first spotted him out in Hamburg, in his suit and beard, sitting ‘drinking bourbon and seven’, they were amazed. ‘This was, like, a grown-up musician,’ thought Paul. One night Ringo sat in for their drummer Pete Best. ‘I remember the moment,’ said Paul, ‘standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was like …what is this? And that was the moment, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.’

I think Ringo Starr was a genius. The world seems to be coming around to the idea. Two months ago, he was finally accepted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — the last Beatle to be inducted. About time too. On 7 July he turns 75.

Some might now plead, enough. Ringo should surely just be celebrated for being Ringo: daffy, doleful, odd. Ousting for good in mid-1962 the gloweringly sexy, Mersey-fan-adored Best, Ringo chanced upon the biggest ride in showbiz history and so became the luckiest Scouser of all time. He wasn’t spectacular; he set the Beatles’ backbeat and kept time, making up for a lack of upfront technique with his characteristic ‘fills’ — flicks and flashes across the drums between lyrics and musical phrases.

Ringo was also short, with a big nose, traditionally the least appealing Beatle. When the band played live, he shook his mop and thrashed around behind the bass drum. On TV in December 1963 the comedian Eric Morecambe called him Bongo. The idea of a slightly absurd creature with a silly name, bucking the sleeker charisma of his colleagues, somehow stuck.

A specific stab at Starr was once attributed to John Lennon himself. Apparently asked if he thought Ringo was the best drummer around, Lennon is said to have replied that he wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles. Were the attribution correct, Lennon might slyly have been alluding to McCartney — Paul drummed on some late Beatles. But Lennon didn’t say it. Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn has apparently traced them to the Brummie comic Jasper Carrott, who seems to have made the quip in 1983, three years after Lennon’s murder.

The joke nonetheless played and plays into a repeated, grave misunderstanding of Starr’s role. True, he wrote only two and a bit Beatles songs (‘Don’t Pass Me By’ and ‘Octopus’s Garden’, with a credit on Rubber Soul for ‘What Goes On’, as well as one for a 1967 instrumental called ‘Flying’). He took lead vocal, with his idiosyncratic nasal glumness, on these and on eight other songs in the tally of 13 UK Beatles LPs. Yet proper focus on his musicianship reveals his indispensability to the other three. His rhythms were tight and infectious, shaping and shaped by guitars and voices: never obtrusive, always consistent. His thuds and whacks behind that bass drum helped create magnificence on nearly every track the Beatles recorded.

It began early. Many might suppose that ‘She Loves You’ (from mid-1963) opens with just those words, sung in chorus. In fact, it kicks off on a fantastically propulsive Starr tom-tom. Through a revolutionary two minutes 20 seconds he frequently plays off the beat. With thrilling use of hi-hat cymbal he opens dynamics and heightens decibels in a manner hitherto not heard on a Beatles record. Such percussive glee was a band war cry as, from 1964 into 1965, the Beatles shook the world.

In his renowned study of the group, Revolution in the Head (1994), Ian MacDonald said of ‘She Loves You’ something absolutely germane to Starr’s real importance: ‘Beyond the basic words and music lay the vital work of arranging, at which juncture the Beatles became not a duo but a quartet.’

It’s one of the astutest points ever made about them. The Lennon–McCartney songwriting machine was well oiled by the supple, moody musicality of George Harrison. But so it was by an unerring Starr. In the past two decades, nerdy concentration on precisely who wrote what, and which Beatle was most important, has often occluded a more basic truth: the Beatles were great only because of the greatness of four men composing and playing together. Without Starr in the mix, they would have sounded quite different, and probably not as wonderful.

Ringo got subtler the further the band left touring behind and the more experimental, from mid-1966, they became in the studio. Without him, there’d be no Beatles track like ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, which ends the album Revolver. With its tape-loop screeches and Lennon’s eerie vocal, the whole is held together by Starr’s astonishing, off-the-beat control on slackened tom-toms. His drumming makes this piece of music shamanic and, still, utterly fresh.

Instances of Ringo’s ingenuity abound: the fills in the first minute and a half of ‘A Day in the Life’ on Sgt. Pepper; the relentless ferocity and, again, control on the White Album’s hard-rock ‘Helter Skelter’; the svelte jazz tempos of, and cymbal use in, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ on Abbey Road; and at the end — on side two as it once was — of the same album’s valedictory medley is the only drum solo Starr performed. (He didn’t approve of drum solos.)

Lack of close listening has disallowed Ringo from being considered as complete a musician as John, Paul and George. When the Beatles took him on (manager Brian Epstein had to sack Best), Ringo was in fact a highly experienced performer, and had long been better known in Liverpool than the others put together. Thirteen years after MacDonald, another reliable Beatles chronicler, Jonathan Gould, wrote: ‘There is little question that the invitation to join the Beatles was the single luckiest thing that ever happened to Ringo Starr. But Ringo’s acceptance of that invitation was also one of the luckiest things that ever happened to the Beatles.’

Correct. The Beatles needed a fresher, better and more Beatlesy drummer than Best. As he reaches his three-quarter century, this congenial northerner surely deserves universal respect, and many happy returns, for being an essential part of one of Britain’s most fabled contributions to the 20th century.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

James Woodall is the author of ‘The Story of The Beatles’ Last Song’.

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Show comments
  • seilerbird

    Ringos biggest contribution to the world was introducing the like hand grip on the sticks. It works much better than the military grip all kit drummers used to that point. Most drummers today use a like handed grip. He was revolutionary.

    • hangemall123

      Being a left handed drummer playing a right handed kit it would have been almost unthinkable for Ringo to play with a military (traditional) grip. I always wondered if Ringo’s great time keeping had anything to do with the fact that he was playing the back beats on the snare with his dominant hand. Before the use of click tracks you can set a metronome to Beatles songs and they stay right there. When George Martin realized how good Ringo’s time was he said he’d use him on any track. The Beatles live back in the day with no monitor speakers Ringo could barely hear the band but still played perfectly and in the pocket. Tight! He made the band swing.

      • DaveinMadison

        Very interesting! Readers’ comments just as interesting as the article!

        • hangemall123

          Ringo was most proud of his drumming on the song “Rain.”

          • Columba Kos

            To hangemall123: An interesting observation. If I am not mistaken, ‘Rain’ is inverted. That is, the song is played backward. I don’t know if the drums were then added again, in forward time to the reversed playback. Whatever the case, there is something odd and mysterious about the song. Very much a mysterious and compelling record.

          • view2share

            The ending is backward played.

          • Columba Kos

            The drum track is inverted.

          • hangemall123

            I haven’t re-listened to it yet. You thing the drumming is backwards too?: I”ll let you know what I think. It’s been a long time.

          • hangemall123

            I think Flat Ed is right. I think only the vocal track of John Lennon is backwards. I’m going to have to get out the record.

          • hangemall123

            I think only the ending is backwards.

          • Flat Ed

            No the track is a normal recording, the backing track is only slowed down with vocals recorded at normal speed, which gives it a surreal feel. Only Lennon’s voice is reversed at the end.

          • hangemall123

            Thanks for clarifying that.

          • mohdanga

            One of my favourites, played the ‘air drums’ many times to this in the basement!

          • coloradosprings

            Try reading previous comments before commenting?

        • Kermit Thefrog

          This is just a great find.

        • Doug Tarnopol

          I agree!

    • DaveinMadison

      What is like hand grip?

      • hangemall123

        It’s called “Matched Grip.” Military grip was invented solely for the purpose of playing a marching drum hooked to a sling over your shoulder and tilted as a result. By holding the left stick between the thumb and forefinger and resting it on the ring finger the drummer avoided the fatigue of keeping his left elbow up over the drum. Only his left hand was higher. Lots of drummers still prefer this grip.

        • DaveinMadison

          Thank you.

        • Doug Tarnopol

          I didn’t realize he invented/popularized (?) matched grip!

          • hangemall123

            I don’t believe he invented it. He did have a big influence on a bunch of young drummers at that time.

  • UncleTits

    Not forgetting his fantastic on-screen presence. The Beatles were, after all, as much about image as they were about music. None of the Beatles were first-rate musicians as such and I’ve never really understood it when Ringo, a highly charismatic and idiosyncratic performer, was almost disregarded because he wasn’t a songwriter. It was their musical personalities, along with the compatibility of George Martin, that combined to be greater than the sum of the parts. Technically they were rubbish compared to ‘proper’ musicians and thank God for that!

    • moderatevoter

      Paul not a first rate bassist? Rubbish? Listen to George play Till there was you at the Royal hall live, absolutely clean. Try to sing All my loving while playing the triplet rhythm guitar part John played. When you can do that then you can talk nonsense, but it will still be nonsense. Speaking for myself, a guitarist and a violinist for 50 years, who can play jazz, classical, and rock Hendrix solos, etc. in other words, technically demanding pieces of “proper” music, you have no clue at all as to how good all of the boys were. They made it seem simple but it wasn’t

      • UncleTits

        If you are a technically adept guitarist in any of those fields then it is likely that Beatles numbers, note for note, are not going to test you technically. I’m also a ‘musician’ of sorts, I’ve been playing acoustic, electric and bass (and more recently ukulele!) for 25 years, although my claims to personal excellence are somewhat more modest than your own (I will provide a link to my YouTube channel if you wish to view a sample). But that is precisely my point: it was the musical personalities, and not technical virtuosity, that combined to make that unique sound. As I said, I’m glad McCartney’s bass playing did not sound like Jaco Pastorius or George Harrson’s guitar like Allan Holdsworth! As great as those players are, their ilk would have been the wrong ingredients and the cake would have fallen!

        • moderatevoter

          You are comparing them to jazz musicians. If I compare Jaco to Yo Yo ma then I can claim that Jaco is not a “first rate musician. There are of course levels and levels of technical skill. Technically, the best musicians are classical violinists, pianists, and cellists. We can just call about 20 people in the world who play those instruments classically proper musicians and look down our noses at everyone else, especially if one has a classical music background. That does not work for me. A fair comparison is within the same genre. I have a hard time playing Harrison’s solos and fills like he did, so cleanly. I have a much, much easier time copying Kieth Richards.

          As well, first rate musician in the genres of a type of music that include improvisation, jazz, 60s rock, etc. has a great deal to do with imagination, originality and inventiveness. Harrison may not have been Jimi Hendrix, but how many of his solos do millions of people remember note for note, etched in our consciousness like Beethoven symphony? Again, well, the question is subjective of course, but for my money all of the Beatles were first-rate “proper” musicians adn I say that as someone who has heard all kinds of great musicians live, in every major genre and with knowledge of what I am hearing. The Beatles were great technical musicians within their genre.

          • UncleTits

            I’m not sure if you are agreeing with me or disagreeing with me. On one hand you make claims that the Beatles were technically top of their game and on the other you are saying that, even though there were better players, people remember what the Beatles played and not what those technically better guys did. I agree with that latter. Even Hendrix, a guy who kicked major hind, from the scathing entry to the solo of “Stone Free” to the Curtis Mayfield-inspired delicate ornamentation of “Little Wing”, is only really remembered properly by other guitarists. His attention-grabbing playing would have gotten in the way of the songs in the Beatles. The Beatles had basic technique and knowledge but they each had something far more valuable: compatible musical personalities. And no amount of practising scales will deliver that.

          • moderatevoter

            I agree with the positives in your assessment, but disagree that not playing a gadzillion notes per second al la John McLaughlin or Coltrane made them “rubbish” and “not proper musicians”. They were all highly skilled proper musicians. Its that simple. I wish my skills were nearly so good and I can play Vivaldi’s summer violin concerto and am taking a good swing now at the Mendelssohn violin concerto. I can only envy the technical musical skills of all the Beatles along with their unparalleled genius for creativity within their genre. I was head over heels in love with classical music when I was 4 and then fell in love with the Beatles when I was 6 when my mom bought their first VJ album. It never gets old. Great musicians are eternal. Wish I were one of them, but at least I can play in my 60s band and try to copy them.

          • UncleTits

            I said that they were technically rubbish in comparison to the type of guys you mentioned. Which is entirely true. The Beatles were about the songs and the right accompaniment. Let’s not create an altar to them. They were ordinary guys who gelled very well musically with the technique they had.

            I have an old YouTube video of me playing a McCartney-style acoustic piece if you wish to see an emulation of the acoustic picking technique that he used on “Blackbird”. It’s really easy to do, even easier than the standard Travis-picking used by John Lennon on “Julia” for example, and anyone can do it. Because music comes before technique and how many times I’ve seen musicians ruin the former, with too much of the latter, I cannot count!

            I will make one statement about George Harrison though. By the mid-80’s his slide technique had become quite an art in itself. Very beautiful understated playing on his “Cloud 9” album in particular. But that was a long time after the Beatles and so doesn’t count here!

          • moderatevoter

            I’ll agree with you about the slide playing, also on the Imagine album, Gimme some truth, for example.

            Other than that, we gonna just have to disagree. There is a lot of Chet Atkins in Georges early playing, that is technical stuff, so clean, so crisp. McCartney, who often gets on my nerves as a person, was just a phenomenal bassist, not some ordinary guy at all.

          • UncleTits

            McCartney. My favourite acoustic guitarist and bassist rolled into one, despite (and I realise you disagree) the existence of far more technically challenging musicians on both instruments. Incredibly musical and instantly recognisable. As it should be!

          • Driver 67

            I kind of agree with you both. They weren’t fantastically accomplished musicians (but, compared to what, at the time, other than the highly polished pop of Frank, or the commercially successful jazz of Brubeck?). But together they were out on their own. Paul, though, developed his bass-playing very quickly, and some of his melodic counterpoint bass from Rubber Soul onwards was much copied and very influential.

          • Brian Thomas

            I think a big part of the ‘freshness’ of the Beatles is the fact that they didn’t use – and quite possibly didn’t know anything about – the II – V – I progression that was pretty much ubiquitous in popular songwriting in the decades before them. All the Sinatra stuff, the Jazz Standards (aka the American Songbook) were hugely influenced by this. So it is true to say that they broke the rules because they didn’t know what the rules of songwriting were. Incidentally, George’s intro on ‘I Want To Tell You’: simple,mesmerizing…so many gems to find…

          • thepopeofpop

            No II – V – I progressions in The Beatles’ songs, Brian? I’m afraid you’re wrong about that. What they did do was use the II – V – I turnaround somewhat sparingly and often coming out of another key so that you don’t necessarily hear it that way (for example, the transition from the intro of “If I Fell” into the first verse (Em7 – A – D), or the transition into the middle eight of From Me To You – Gm – C – F (ii – V -I in the new key of F). Of course they knew the “rules” of songwriting, they played hundreds of songs on stage before they cut their first record and could hardly have ignored how those songs were written. They played a number of tin pan alley songs as well as rock’n’roll songs in those days.

          • Brian Thomas

            Finding, as you have, a couple of obscure examples doesn’t invalidate my more general point, although I agree it was wrong for me to make quite such a sweeping claim. Their main early influences of rock and roll/skiffle/blues certainly don’t follow II – V – I in an overt sense, and although the tin pan alley material will be following the rules, the II – V – I commonality may not be immediately obvious if not pointed out. So they may not have noticed. I maintain that, notwithstanding the occasional example that can be ferreted-out, most of their work is largely free of that format and thus sounds so fresh.

          • beninabox

            “I maintain that, notwithstanding the occasional example that can be
            ferreted-out, most of their work is largely free of that format” That’s not because they didn’t know about or understand it as a standard chord progression. Clearly, from my “Tell Me Why” example, they did.

          • Brian Thomas

            Frankly ‘Tell Me Why’ doesn’t even ring a bell for me as a Beatles’ song – it is that obscure, and makes my point that the progression hardly features. We are all enriched by them not having been taught that musicologically the progression is so fundamental. Some musicologist has published weighty tomes arguing that all music is II – V – I. There used to be an American jazz-rock band called Area Code 251. The simple, basic and almost ubiquitous modulation device of changing the dominant seventh into a minor seventh seems mercifully unknown to them. I suppose you’ll now produce something to disprove this, but it will merely be the exception that proves the rule!

          • beninabox

            You might want to listen to it on youtube. It was popular at the time; I know because I heard it a lot. Just because they didn’t beat the progression to death by making it a major go-to for their songs doesn’t mean they didn’t know about it. It’s obvious from the track that they knew exactly what they were doing. But one of the characteristics of the Beatles is that they were easily bored. Why use that progression when it’s been done to death? Nobody who grew up in that time didn’t know it- it was a majorly overused one in the 50s, so much so that the musical, Grease, poked fun at it (the stage musical, not the movie)

          • beninabox

            By the way, “Tell Me Why” doesn’t ‘sound’ obscure. It’s tight, it moves and it’s got a major hook. Really, you’d like it, and you’d understand why I say what I’m saying.

          • beninabox

            “Tell Me Why You Cried” is textbook “Rhythm” changes w/ classic walking bass by McCartney.

          • beninabox

            “and quite possibly didn’t know anything about – the II – V – I
            progression that was pretty much ubiquitous in popular songwriting”

            That’s unlikely, to say the least. One of their genius tunes is “Tell Me Why” which is exactly that progression (technically ‘Rhythm changes” I VI II V I with II V turnaround) though their stark harmonizing can distract attention from that. The verses and chorus sound are distinct from each other yet are exactly the same progression in the same key. (the bridge is different though)

          • Ivan Ewan

            They were lucky. Now we’re stuck with I – V – VI – IV on some kind of endless bubblegum loop.

          • Mike Waddell

            “Technically rubbish” is too harsh a term, IMO. That would imply someone stepping all over himself trying to execute a passage. Technique is gauged by one’s ability to communicate effectively in a particular style of music, nothing more. George, for example, could do technically what he needed to do to excite fans worldwide through successive generations. By contrast, a classical symphonic musician has cultivated a fluidity and elegance of technique as well as refined tonal qualities that are essential in THAT idiom. Yes, there are guitarists today who could execute Harrison’s guitar riffs more smoothly (and he never developed a searing vibrato like Hendrix or Clapton) but it wouldn’t improve, and possibly pale by comparison to the original.

          • def.funkt

            Alan Holdsworth, a jazz musician?

          • Kermit Thefrog

            Actually, I like both of these arguments. Though your’s gets my vote because it is both plausible and runs counter to conventional wisdom. I believe that Beatles, themselves, probably added to the commonly accepted belief that they weren’t great musicians. I am thinking of John’s public statements that touring prevented them from reaching their potential as a live act.

            I’ve read that they were appalled at their sound when playing at the Budokan in Tokyo. Relatively quiet audience that gave them a chance for the first time to actually hear what they were performing. Recordings I’ve heard are not nearly as bad as what I was led to believe. Keep in mind that the Budokan was built as a sports arena, and has notoriously poor acoustics. Just about anything played there sounds like crap.

      • cb55

        Very true!

    • Bill

      The Beatles were about image in the early years for sure, but when they quit touring it was definitely about the music. While none of them could read music (a good thing, since it freed them to do things that were not “correct”), I would disagree that none of them were “first-rate musicians”. In fact, because of their lack of formal training, they simply redefined the term. But I get what you’re saying, we’re on the same page… best band ever, probably never to be seen again. Sorry Monkees – lol.

      • blandings

        “The Beatles were about image in the early years for sure”
        I was a kid at the time. Of course there was image, lots of it, but it was their sound that mattered. It is difficult now to appreciate just how fresh and exciting their music was.
        It has been said many times that in 1963 the world went from grey to technicolour overnight – it did, and it was The Beatles that did it.

        • mohdanga

          Who can compare to them now? Like most generations I believe the music I grew up with is the best (and that encompasses quite a range) but honestly, I cannot be bothered with anything that is out there today. Maybe it is just age because music seemed to matter more before (when things like fulltime jobs and marriage got in the way)!

      • beninabox

        “While none of them could read music (a good thing, since it freed them to do things that were not “correct”),”

        Total rubbish. You might as well say that actors can only be free to not be correct if they can’t read English.

        • Caractacus

          At the time the music industry was incredibly snobbish about what was ‘correct’ in music or not.

        • thepopeofpop

          Yes, completely agree. A number of famous jazz musicians couldn’t read music either, never hurt them. Also, Irving Berlin couldn’t read music, needed a transcriber to write down what he played on piano. Plus Gershwin didn’t “write” Rhapsody in Blue in the classical sense- he just played it on piano and Paul Whiteman’s band created the orchestration that we all know and love based on what Gershwin played on piano! I wonder if the music snobs are aware of THAT?

  • Lurkio

    I do write as a Beatles fan (and a drummer) but this one of the best critiques of a musician’s style and contribution I’ve read in a long time. Fab article, would be the appropriate comment. I’ve always felt that Ringo’s contribution to the Beatles was grossly undervalued by many. He was the right man, with the right feel and style, at the right time for the right band.

    • DaveinMadison

      So true.

    • def.funkt

      I totally agree! No one, but no one, sounds like Ringo. His style is entirely his own and it remains unique.

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    • Andrew Schiff

      How in the wide world of sports is Ringo Starr a genius. Good drummer, great personality…A genius? At what? He wasn’t a songwriter or really that creative. What have we come to when we are calling people with marginal talent geniuses…

      • Miss Mello

        marginal talent? Are you kidding me?

        • Andrew Schiff

          Yes, marginal talent compared to the rest of the band. Compared to Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Art Blakey. I said he was a good drummer, great personality. But he was marginal. He’s been able to craft out a solo career, he eats healthy and seem like a really good person, but he limited a musician. If he was so hot as a drummer, why did Paul sit in for him on a bunch of occasions. The writer calling him a genius obviously doesn’t know what a genius is if he’s calling Ringo one.

          • Miss Mello

            Paul sat in for a very short period of time when Ringo quit the band due to him being sick of having to be in the middle of the fights. They begged him to come back while he took an angry holiday and after a couple of weeks he did. However recordings were already planned and especially in those times it was just not done to delay something like an album release date.

            In fact, Paul only drummed on three tracks: Back In The USSR, Dear Prudence and The Ballad Of John And Yoko: three songs which are very boring percussion wise. Paul was decent enough but he simply wasn’t a drummer.

            Ringo was also a perfect timekeeper, George Martin has compared him to a living metronome. Considering the fact that the Beatles recorded dozens upon dozens of versions which would be cut up and edited after, he had to be. These days they use an electronic metronome but there wasn’t such a thing in existence yet and many of the more experimental tracks couldn’t have been made if they hadn’t been able to count so incredibly much on Ringo.
            In fact. From the moment they started to the moment they quit, the recording only had to be stopped/done over twice because of Ringo. That’s quite a track record.

            Talking about experimenting: the Beatles have explored many genres throughout their run, from rock ‘n roll, to pop, to country, folk, r&b, psychadelic, ballads etc. Can you imagine what kind of drummer it took to adapt so well to so many different genres?

            Ringo always knew where a song was going, what it need from its percussion. When the band split up John asked him to drum on his first solo album saying: “If I get a thing going Ringo knows where to go, just like that..”

            You mention Moon, Baker and Blakey and I will without any hesitance admit that these are all magnificent drummers however they are all flamboyant, kind of aggressive drummers. Ringo knew the value of less is more: no beat was wasted. He had a very subtle and understated style.

            Ringo was the first, or at the very least one of the first, true rock ‘n roll drummer on television. He popularized the matched grips instead of the military style drumming all backing drummers on tv always sported, he forever changed the role of the drummer within the band by, for instance, elevating the stage, he revolutionized the sound of drums by experimenting with microphones on every single drum, tuning them lower, and eliminating the tonal ring with muffling materials, something which is common practice nowadays.

            The case being is people fiercely underestimate the role of Ringo in the Beatles: both socially and musically. Not only was he the buffer, the neutral friend and did the absorb a lot of the heath within the group, but also was he constantly experimenting with percussion. He was not a great song writer or singer, but he was without a doubt one hell of a drummer. Percussion is probably the hardest instrument set to differentiate yourself in and there are only a dozen or so drummers I can thing of where I can mostly tell that it’s them playing. However Ringo was so distinctively Ringo that I can recognize his playing immediately.

            Seriously, listen to other great drummers: most of them will cite Ringo as one of their influences. And even those who don’t.. The fact that their opinion is even asked is because Ringo shuffled open the path of the drummer as an equally respected member of a band unlike they always were before.

  • “She Said, She Said” is my favorite song, in large part due to Ringo’s drumming.

    • DaveinMadison

      Spot on!

      • Jeffrey Mitchell

        Paul’s drumming does a great nod to Ringo’s “she Said She Said” when Paul drums in “Dear Prudence” the fills are so…”Ringoesque”

        • steve

          Not everyone knows about the quarreling during the White album and Ringo walking out for weeks. But I think when Paul took the sticks for Dear Prudence about 3 mins. into the song YOU KNOW it’s not Ringo. Paul excels.

          • Gilbert White

            Also probably took the sticks for back in the Eussr, dont know how lucky you are!

          • def.funkt

            It was Paul. He played drums on both Back in the USSR and Dear Prudence. However, I only recently found that out. I thought the drumming on “Prudence” sounded just like what Ringo would play, and here it was Paul this whole time…

          • EdRevealsAll

            Paul is a very good drummer, and it’s obvious his main influence was Ringo.

  • AndrewCell

    I love “Something” mainly because of Ringo’s fills. They are perfect every time

    • Scoats

      His drumming on Here Comes the Sun is perfect as well.

  • mortsnerd

    Ringo has been underestimated because of his supposed lack of flashiness or manic OTT power (Keith Moon), though in the latter case, maybe Ringo was wise to pace himself. People lacking in an overall musical training/culture/affinity may have missed his percussive mastery both in his subtley being able to place himself in the background in order to enhance the ensemble and in his modulation of timbre. In football terms you may see him as a playmaker.

    • view2share

      Mick Fleetwood and John Bonham — pretty darn good & flashy 🙂

    • Garry Firth

      Good point,some of these drummers seem to up themselves ,trying to gra the spotlight

  • BillyShakespeare

    His son is an amazing drummer.

    • def.funkt

      Zak is amazing on his own, and when playing with The Who!

      • BillyShakespeare

        Fist time I heard Zak he was backing Daltrey in 1994. I’m glad I didn’t know ahead of time who the drummer was as I would have probably pre judged thinking it was connections that got him the gig.
        He stood out as great even in the large group of musicians Daltrey had touring with him.

  • Foolishness

    absolutely true. Ringo was the binding force for the beatles music, the perfect supporting drummer, enhancing every song, laying exactly the right foundation.

  • artgenta

    i had the good fortune to interact with Ringo in 1975 in Beverly hills in a private mansion, we played pool together, and his manner was very friendly and unpretentious, i came-away feeling a lot of love for him, i think he is essentially self-effacing and easy to love!
    we’re lucky to have him…

    • foto2021

      No doubt he feels exactly the same way about you.

      What did you say your name was?

  • view2share

    The amazing thing is that all five came together. George Martin being the fifth Beatle. All the Beatles were great. I really like Paul’s NEW album. Amazing how Paul did so many works playing all the instruments. I do believe Paul passed the audition. John’s earlier works were great. On his own, Walls and Bridges is good, the rest — music is all subjective, so I leave it at that. Ringo albums are just fun. George hit the ground running with All Things Must Pass. That’s his best, I’d say. Band on the Run was well done, Sir Paul ! In 1982, we found Paul and George Martin together for Tug of War – pretty good stuff. The vocals on Wanderlust – amazing.

    The nineteen-sixties had so many great singers and writers, it seems when added up, would be a longer list than all decades since. IMHO. Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin, enter the scene in early 70’s. Ah, Stevie Nicks!

    • Led Zeppelin ‘enters the scene’ in the 1970s? Their best album arguably was their first (1969: a work for as long as free people are alive), with number 4 (1971) a contender for the title.

      • Say it ain’t so

        what you said is true but i think the op was trying to say that led zeppelin’s success was mostly attributed to the 1970s when they were in their prime. much like black sabbath (recorded their first album in 1969 but released it in 1970) or deep purple. no one’s gonna say led zeppelin ruled the 60s cos they didn’t. they were just a fresh new band, albeit climbing rapidly but they were still brand new.

      • moderatevoter

        Totally agree about the best Led Zep album, number 1 it is and then 4. The acoustic guitar playing on 1 is the biggest reason that I love Jimmy Page.

  • Sue Smith

    Yoko Whack-o would know as much about music as my neighbourhood dog does about Bach.

    • Tim Rodriguez

      She studied classical music.

    • And your neighbourhood dog knows MUCH more about Yoko than you. Never read anything since 1969?

    • Faulkner Orkney

      Is your dog’s Bach worse than its bite?

    • UncleTits

      Bill Burr’s assessment of Yoko pretty much nailed it.

      • LiamNewcastle

        Thanks so much for this link, hilarious. Made my evening.

  • Kermit Thefrog

    It is good seeing Ringo get the recognition he deserves. Like all of the Beatles, Paul included, it was not his technical mastery, but his musicality that set him apart.

  • cb55

    I’ve always loved Ringo’Rock Steady’ Starr. A Great drummer!

  • Fabulous. Genius never came so cheaply. I must be, at the very least, brilliant.

    • Miss Mello

      you don’t know what you’re talking about

  • Partner

    His son………

  • ianess

    Great article and a necessary corrective to unthinking criticism of a wonderful drummer who always played to the song, never to overpower it. The recent remasters make it even more clear how superb he was. His playing on Lennon’s ‘God’ is also outstanding.
    Thanks for the Jasper Carrot info also.

  • Kent Johnston

    I’ve always remembered John’s quote “Ringo’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles” taking place in 1968 when being interviewed by a journalist during the week that Ringo quit The Beatles temporarily during the White Album sessions and specifically Back in the U.S.S.R. . I’m surprised Lewisohn places the origin of the quote in 1983 as I was aware of it during the mid 1970’s.

    • apollo c vermouth

      ….I’ve always remembered John’s quote “Ringo’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles” taking place in 1968 while being interviewed….I was aware of it during the mid 1970’s.

      No, You’ve misremember this.

      Lewisohn was right. Never happened.

      Any such interview would have been ‘instantly famous’.

      While it makes for a good story, particularly tied to the USSR sessions,
      this relatively modern and collectively false memory should be cast out of Beatles’ lore.

      • hangemall123

        I think Paul had recorded “Back in the USSR” at his home and brought the finished song to The Beatles.

  • Faulkner Orkney

    Without lessening the rightful respect for Ringo…I did smirk at Eric Morcambe calling him Bongo. One genius describing another.

  • Doug Tarnopol

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I always liked his drumming, but I
    didn’t really start to understand just how immaculate his taste and
    musicality were till I started playing myself. The better I get, the
    more I respect the Ringo.

    Picture Ginger Baker (a phenomenal drummer) in the band. Picture anyone else in the band. Now you get it. 🙂 They were a *band* and Ringo just had an unerring ear for what should be played when and how. He is a musician who happens to be a drummer, and that’s something a guy steeped in prog rock (I’m 45; grew up in New England — a time and place in which prog was all; and I still enjoy it!) needed learn. Watts and Ringo taught me. 🙂

  • sfin

    Let’s face it.

    That whole group were a one off, who got together at the right place at the right time.

    John and Paul take the plaudits for an extraordinary output of melody and words (truly extraordinary) but it would have been nothing without the fills and musicianship of George and Ringo.

    • ianess

      Pissed? As you appear to have been when you wrote this.

      • sfin

        Speak for yourself you twat!

        • ianess

          Many apologies. This comment should have appeared under ‘jim’ above. Totally agree with your comment.

          • sfin

            Ah! The apologies should be mine. I think I’ve been trolled once too often and I over reacted to an honest mistake, in your case.

  • jim

    Another genius.It seems we’re tripping over them these days. Ringo was a competent drummer ,a nice guy with a dry wit and a pleasing screen persona but mostly he seems to have been pissed.

    • Driver 67

      Pissed as in cross, or as in intoxicated? He was definitely dour and droll, but I’m not sure he was unprofessional enough to play drunk.

      • jim

        As in “intoxicated”.Ringo liked a drink but I don’t hold that against him.

        • Driver 67

          Ah well, that’s much later on – 69/70? Moonie was always at it – last time I saw him was a couple of weeks before he died, and he was taking those anti-alcohol pills, but still drinking. They were supposed to make you throw up, but he was cheerful as anything. I never took Ringo for a souse, although he did his fair share of pharmaceuticals for sure.

        • EdRevealsAll

          A drunken musician??? Say it isn’t so!

      • Dread Ninja Roberts

        Ringo went to court to block the release of an album he recorded in 1987, In the deposition he said he was drinking 16 bottles of wine a day during the recording and that as a result the record was so bad that it’s release would have damaged his career.

        • Driver 67

          I’m not sure heavy drinking nearly 20 years after the events this article discusses is particularly relevant. For a short period after The Beatles broke up, Ringo was the most successful as a solo act. He didn’t do that, or drum as well as he did, by being pissed. Of course, 20 years later, rich as Croesus and largely ignored, and keeping company with the likes of Harry Nilsson – no wonder he took to the bottle. But isn’t it kind of wonderful that even then, he knew when he’d done bad work?

          • def.funkt

            At least he is clean and sober now, and has been for a very long time.

    • Dogsnob

      Oh go on then, a pissed genius.

  • Burningmoscow

    Speaking of the Beatles in the spiritual and religious dimensions, their genius is a sweet clarification to the biblical promise of everlasting life – not just everlasting life, but everlasting youth – free from illnesses, debility, senility, snobbery and other crap staff of the old age. Can’t you hear the wonderful Ringo’s drums in this idea?

  • Garry65

    I am also a Beatles fan and a drummer and I think Ringo was a brilliant drummer and the perfect man for the Beatles. Just listen to the hi hat “wash” on early songs like “She Loves You”. Ringo invented that. Many drummers, including me, now copy it. Listen to the precise neatness of his work on “The Word”. My favorite Ringo track is “Rain”. Ringo invented psychedelic drumming. All of his work on Sgt Pepper was outstanding and he progressed, as the other Beatles did, with every record. He was the right guy!!! I have met Pete Best. Lovely man!! I saw him play. He would never have been able to do what was necessary for the sounds The Beatles created. Ringo was the MAN!!

    • def.funkt

      The tape was sped up for the recording of “Rain,” then brought back to regular speed for the rest of the instruments and vocals. It became this thunderous sound. He simply tossed off that drum break like it was nobody else’s business. And it was nobody else’s business….

  • Driver 67

    No question Ringo is underrated. Easy as it is to not notice the way he holds everything together in the early days, it’s not so easy to ignore the revolution of his drumming on Rain and Ticket To Ride. That and Tomorrow Never Knows have been massively influential. And then on the Pepper album, we were introduced to the ‘space’ concept – fills that left gaps other drummers would have played through. Lovely Rita and Day In The Life are perfect illustrations of this almost orchestral drumming.

    • hangemall123

      Orchestral. That says it all.

  • thunderclap_monolith

    Fantastic article. And extra kudos for including Ian McDonald. Ringo was one of a kind. I can name 20 better drummers, but none would have worked within what The Beatles were doing. His personality and his quirks, both as a player and as a person, added to the cultural and musical revolution that they sparked.

  • jackie0h

    Great article. I know Ringo is often thought of as the least talented Beatle (seems especially with younger people like me who weren’t here for their original go around), but I agree with this article, they were all needed, and all came together for a reason. I always knew there was something about the drumming on She Loves You, my favorite Beatles song, and this explains it. I agree with Lurkio, Ringo’s involvement with the Beatles has been very underrated and he has always been overshadowed by the other 3. I’m glad this article is giving him the respect he deserves.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    Ringo was a human metronome, and I mean that in the best way possible. Some of those early Beatles recordings were done a dozen or more times until everyone was happy with the end result. They were able to do that because of Ringo. The guy was always spot on. Never too fast, never too slow. I tell young drummers all the time that it’s not about playing 100 drums as fast as you can. It’s about keeping time, and no one did it quite like Ringo.

    • beninabox

      Keeping time is such an underrated skill.

      • def.funkt

        It can be so bloody difficult, believe me. As a drummer, you have to constantly be on your guard not to lose it and start revving up the tempo and that is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of concentration, while also keeping your groove moving with all of the other band members. I don’t know if it comes from both hemispheres of your brain, but you’ve got to learn this trick very early on if you want to be successful. Too many times, I’ve closed my eyes onstage and, yep, the tempo starts getting faster and you have to reign the thing back in before you embarrass yourself and your fellow band members.

  • Trevor

    The Beatles had the perfect combination of personnel from the moment Ringo joined. He was the missing link. From late summer ’62 to late summer ’69, The Beatles took ‘popular’ music so far forward and at a rate that no band or solo artist had done before, or since. Ringo’s part was every bit as important as John’s, Paul’s and George’s .It’s fair to say that after Sgt Pepper, The Beatles handed the baton of influence onto Jimi Hendrix, who played his part in the evolution of rock for a short while. It was during the White Album sessions, that The Beatles started falling apart as a band. The music was still great though.

  • dongee

    As a former 1960’s rock and roll drummer myself, I have always believed that Ringo was the most influential drummer in rock and roll – ever. You can hear his 4-4 back beat as the basis of every popular drummer since.

  • He was long undervalued by people who did not understand his impact – including the (other) Beatles members, themselves.

    His natural feel was totally right to bring out the depth of the Beatles music. Without him they would have been castrated. He was the right man for that job. As a drummer myself, I can tell. Know that in music, nothing works unless *everything* works.

    The real replaceable Beatle was actually George Harrison.

    • tmf354

      You were doing alright all the way up to your last line. George Harrison, replaceable? Utter nonsense. Maybe being a drummer you don’t get it, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Visel

      WTF? George’s style is irreplaceable. Not only he was able to play memorable guitar riffs but also he could write his own songs and provide beautiful melodies and classic gems such as Here Comes The Sun, Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, I Need You, etc.

  • camnai


  • Jimmy Miller

    Hear hear!

  • Greg Ligertwood

    Ringos rock solid mitre and power made and taste made the band. No doubt about it. Neil pert from rush called him greatest rock drummer ever. Long live ringo!

  • Dogsnob

    Ringo Starr IS a genius, please? We can’t be losing him and Val Doonican in the same week.

  • Caractacus

    Well I’m a longstanding Phil Collins fan, so I’m long used to defending a drummer against nonsensical, nasty and personal hatred. Glad to see Ringo finally getting his dues. I’ve never thought that he deserved the criticism that was so often levelled against him.

    And of course, he is the definitive Thomas the Tank Engine.

    • Ben Riddell

      Watched a documentary about Genesis. Phil Collins, whom I’ve always liked as a drummer as well, and the rest of the band were talking about how hard it was playing “behind” a show-stealing presence like Peter Gabriel. Collins was saying the band members were getting no attention at all, though everyone was performing incredibly well, and that he himself (Collins) was “drumming like Ringo” – I guess the highest compliment for a drummer.

    • sudon’t

      Phil Collins was undeniably a good drummer. He just had the misfortune to be in lousy bands. ; )

  • Frank Marker

    I always thought Bobby Elliott of the Hollies was one of the great underrated drummers.

    • Sten vs Bren
      • Frank Marker

        Thanks Sten Vs Bren.

      • Neil Saunders

        Shock! Horror! You appear to be making an intelligent point, Sten.

    • John Steadman

      Well, Frank, you certainly know your music – listen, everybody who is interested, to ‘He’s My Brother.” Just magnificent.

      • Frank Marker

        Thanks John. King Midas in Reverse is pretty damn good too.
        I think this lauding of Ringo is a bit over the top to be honest. A good drummer, but ‘genius’, come on.

  • johnny trevisani

    Ringo was left-handed, yet played right-handed. Since he was still left-handed, playing a right-handed kit, he was still left-hand dominant. Which means that his fills start with the left-hand rather than the, usual, right-hand. Which gave Ringo a distinct and subtle style. This style is now copied my multitudes of drummers out there who studied his drumming style. Ringo rocks.

    • def.funkt

      Myself, included. Studying, that is.

    • The Shrubber

      Yep, I believe that (The Beatles Tune In), in those days, lefty children were forced to learn to do things right handed…. and so Ringo was…..

  • Richard Eldritch

    His son Zak is excellent as well. His work with The Who is epic.

  • Lash


  • Jim in Texas

    I always thought that, being the drummer in the background, overwhelmed by the personalities of John and Paul, it was assumed that Ringo was less of a musician. The same thing happened to George, and it wasn’t until many years later that people started to recognize his guitar and songwriting genius. Ringo looked like a sort of goofy sit in musician, complete down to the stage name, and I think it was easy to assume he was a fifth wheel. Bravo, Ringo!

  • Ronald Hassem


  • Artie007

    The Beatles remain one of the best examples of synergy. While some became or were arguably better musicians than others, none were really virtuosos on their instruments. Their genius lies in their song writing ability and their overall sound. The sum of the Beatle’s parts were much greater than they were individually in my opinion. I believe Ringo contributed greatly to this synergy. He played tastefully…never over-played and was often underrated.

    • Fran Grady

      I agree 100%.

    • sudon’t

      “…none were really virtuosos on their instruments.”

      I have to disagree. Paul was an incredible, standout, bass player. People always seem to talk about his singing, or composing, but he never gets the props he deserves for bass. Of course, few bass players do.
      George wasn’t too shabby on guitar, either. I think this notion of Ringo as a sub-par drummer comes from people who’ve only ever heard the Beatles on the car radio, and didn’t grow up listening to their albums. I do agree with you that, as a band, they were greater than the sum of their parts.

      • Artie007

        When I think of the term “virtuoso,” I’m talking about someone like a studio bass player or someone along the lines of a Stanley Clark or Kim Stone (Spyro Gyra, The Rippingtons) on bass, as an example. I could NEVER take anything away from Paul though as he was indeed an inventive and very talented bass player…. and, of course played both the piano and guitar reasonably well, too. George, was very inventive, tasteful and an excellent guitar player in his own right. However, as far as a guitar virtuoso, I’m thinking differently…maybe someone like Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Mark Knopfler, Steve Morse. I’m not talking about a popularity contest. And, of course you have many different styles of playing, you have excellent Jazz players and folks like Andre Segovia on classical guitar. I think you get where I’m going.

        • sudon’t

          I think that’s the same flash vs. musicality argument we get about Ringo’s drumming. I don’t think you can find a more inventive and musical bassist than Paul McCartney. To me, that’s virtuosity.

  • northernwriter

    What got me about Ringo was that many times he would play the “ride” cymbal through the verse and then go to the hi hat for the chorus….. the exact opposite of how all the other drummers were playing. But it was so effective and helped to make The Beatles sound that was so different. Nice to see him get his dues.

  • Mike Dancy

    Ringo was simply the fourth part of the same person. Without him the soul of that person would not have been complete.

  • Scradje

    Ringo is rightly very proud of his work on Rain, which happens to be one of my favourite Beatles numbers, along with She Said She Said, which also has a magnificent drum part. The remastered versions are well worth a listen. Personally I would like to remix them too; this time with greater emphasis on the bass and drums tracks.

  • John Smith

    His son Zak is a better drummer, ask the Who

  • Zack Lee Wright

    Listen to a Beatles song played by any other band and Ringo’s crystal technique will be clear. Compare “Come Together” by Aerosmith and The Beatles, you’ll hear.

  • Monty

    The world is full of non-musicians that buy into silliness like this. All 4 Beatles had
    talent unmatched by any. Ringos drumming was always brilliant and perfect for each song.

  • milford

    When the Beatles were asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world, one of them replied ‘He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles’ All in good humour of course 🙂

    • Snag

      Did you even read the article?

    • coloradosprings

      You need to read the other comments before commenting yourself.

  • Andrew Schiff

    Ringo was a good drummer and great Beatle but he was no genius.

  • jw

    Tony Williams, one of the greatest drummers in jazz history, was a fan of Ringo’s playing.

  • Never mind that ‘Ringo’ was a silly name, even in the Silly Sixties. Richard Starkey: nice to meet you.

  • Jolyon Wagg

    About 25 years ago, I worked with a drummer who had worked with Elvis, Andy Williams, the Chi-Lites among others and I casually said some naive, derogatory comment about Ringo for a cheap laugh, and this guy nearly bit my head off! He said ‘they’ all followed Ringo in the sixties, copying his ‘licks and fills’ and how influential he really was.

    I learnt a lesson and definitely agree with the tenure of the article. I liken him now to the really good referee in football – you dont notice them.

    • Jules Wright

      Similarly guilty. Until I learned to play the drums and joined a covers band. Back in the USSR has a brilliant backbeat: fills, variety but solid as a rock – with scope to improvise. Holistic. He was pretty damn good – just look at Zak Starkey. Outstanding. Apple never falls far from the tree and all that …

      • apollo c vermouth

        ….Back in the USSR has a brilliant backbeat..

        That’s Paul.

        Ringo was ahhh…’out for an extended tea’ during this and the Dear Prudence sessions. You can look it up.

        • Jules Wright

          That’s embarrassing.

        • Spanner1960


          Ring comes back.

  • Stephen Silvia

    well written article but seriously … are we still having this discussion about Ringo ??????

  • Fran Grady

    It was not Paul McCartney and the Beatles, John Lennon and the Beatles – it was the Beatles and each one played an important role. I am so thrilled for Ringo to be receiving the accolades that he well deserves.

  • logdon

    Except he didn’t play on Love Me Do.

    • Sten vs Bren

      He played on the single, another bloke did a version that went on the LP.

      • logdon

        The link tells it all.

        • Sten vs Bren

          The link tells you that he played on the single and another bloke did a version that went on the LP.

  • dj

    Maybe in his next life George Martin will actually let him play on the records !

  • Simon

    Danny Baker said it best when he said Ringo was the only Beatle who was head-hunted.

  • Stanlycam

    This guy on You Tube covers Ringo’s drumming here is Rain

  • WhiteVanMan

    His drumming on God on the plastic Ono album is awesome

  • Lex Dunn

    Rain. Case closed.

  • Bernie Oliver

    It’s this plain and simple. Ringo Starr invented Rock ‘n’ Roll drumming, period. Before him, it was an adaptation of jazz, rhythm & blues and rockabilly/country swing that made for what was being touted by those who played the drums in ‘rock and roll combos.’ His use of syncopation, particularly in regard to bass drum patterns, are the forerunner of every rock beat to this day.

  • If any of you ever watched the movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” Ringo actually came very close to “stealing” the film. He has to be the most undervalued musician in the history of Rock and Roll.

  • Ivan Ewan

    I’ve generally found that it’s only non-drummers who dis Ringo’s drumming abilities.

    • Miss Mello

      yeah I’ve experienced it the same way. Basically noobs who think they know it all

  • Ringo has always had the respect of rock drummers who have the skill to appreciate what he brought to the group. He not only kept a rock-steady beat, he treated the drums like a bass, adding frills and flourishes where appropriate. You only have to listen to the basic beat on “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” a workmanlike job from Paul, and “She Loves You,” to realize how Ringo made the Beatles’ drums talk.

    It’s a measure of his self-effacement that he never went in for drum solos. IIRR, he had to be convinced to do one on Abbey Road side two, and, characteristically, it was a kick-ass beat that connected the two songs perfectly. That’s Ringo, God bless him.

  • rob

    I humbly suggest two courses for knowledge’ sake ; one DVD MoTown Funk Brothers Concert w/guests . Also Max Weinberg’s book (1984?) featuring interviews w/dozen greatest drummers (to him) . Bernard Purdie throws a grenade in the mix with his claim to have played drums on Beatles first few albums , entirely by himself .The fills Ringo used are all Motown style , subtle, behind the beat and announce or conclude any passage through a song . Directives , in a word . He gets credit for all experimentation of later efforts , for sure . Where I’m from , that cat’s a”tasty” drummer . Nuff said . carry on .

  • Hywel Griffith

    Spot on – listening to Strawberry Fields and Day in the Life – it is actually the drums that keep me putting those two tracks on my walk to work playlist!

  • Gilbert White

    Do not believe the Ringo remark as stated by Lennon in the article. Ringo as far as we know was about the only person or thing Lennon never ever turned on, the nearest to criticism being, how dare you, when Ringo got a number one! Probably shows Ringo posed no threat.

  • foto2021

    Ringo wasn’t a genius, but he was good enough. That is all that matters.

  • Bob Cole

    ah yes. a day in the life. ringo makes such good music. I drum myself and I always enjoyed how musical he was , and is.

  • JD Mulvey

    Ringo was particularly important in breaking the band in the early days in America. Following the big splash they made on the Ed Sullivan Show, plenty of their new fans couldn’t have named the other three, but they all knew who Ringo was.

  • eddie willers

    “on side two as it once was”

    Another thing that made vinyl so memorial. A common question back then would be: “Whats better (so and so record) or the second side of Abbey Road?”.

  • eddie willers

    I’d like to play “Tomorrow Never Knows” to a kid and then explain to them…”That is NOT a drum machine”. Maybe they will start to get it then.

  • Eric Neil

    I couldn’t agree more with this article -it was always John. Paul George AND Ringo for me. His character and drumming technique filled that missing piece that was the Beatles.

  • Mary_Carter
  • AYorkshireman

    Agree with just about everything below. A vastly under-rated musician. But it is not just what he did but also about what he didn’t do. Frequently less is more; just listen to the drumming on ‘In My Life’ – absolutely perfect for the song. Anything more would ruin it.

  • Uncle Bob

    I’ve been a Beatle Fan since 1964, and I love Ringo. But John, Paul, George and a Drum-Machine would have been just as Great, maybe even a little better.

  • pbinCA

    Good review. Ringo came on the scene at a time when drummers were considered an interchangeable commodity. He played with personality, and over several years developed a totally unique style. As the oldest Beatle, he took responsibility for the positive vibe and goodwill. “With a little help from my friends” lives on a 60’s anthem.

  • Cranston

    I agree with the article except on the point of Ringo’s drumming in Tomorrow Never Knows, which is actually a drum loop – the first ever I believe. I could be wrong on that last point. Anyone know for sure?

  • Miss Mello

    I can get so frustrated by people who discount Ringo’s talent and contribution. Percussion is probably the hardest to differentiate in but you can almost ALWAYS tell that it’s Ringo playing due to his unique and distinctive style. Probably my favourite drummer and definitely my favourite Beatle.

  • Miss Mello

    Agreed whole heartedly! Ringo knew the value of less is more and knew how to serve song.

  • Patrick

    Being a lifelong musician, I have always felt that Ringo’s drumming was so very tasty. Never overdone. Some of his latter work was really remarkable. His unique sense of timing and emphasis makes him one of the very best.