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Thanks for the music, Mr. Starkey
July 7, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe

One of the most rhythmically solid, tastefully understated and (all too often) criminally underrated drummers in the history of rock music turned 70 today, and you'll forgive me if I couldn't let the day pass without a nod in his direction. You've probably heard of him.

The brilliant simplicity of his innovative beat for Ticket To Ride certainly deserves special mention. He returned to it (in a very slight variation) for Lennon's groundbreaking Tomorrow Never Knows. Oh, and, he took a drum solo precisely once in his recording career with those three other guys from Liverpool. That is, if you don't count this little bit from the outro of Strawberry Fields Forever.

Happy birthday, Ringo!
posted by flapjax at midnite (98 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
And here I was thinking Charlie Watts (close! 69).

Happy B-day, Ringo!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:54 PM on July 7, 2010


Now I truly do feel old. Gee thanks.

(One of my earliest memories is him and his bandmates on Ed Sullivan. Mom let me stay up past my bedtime so I could laugh at their haircuts-or lack thereof....yup, the early Sixties were different.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:56 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


At first glance I thought this was going to be about Animal from The Muppet Show. That being said Ringo was never the flashiest drummer but he got the job done.
posted by MikeMc at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, Paul came up with the drum figure for "Ticket to Ride", and it's funny to listen to because Ringo sounds like he's having trouble remembering it. He screws it up around 1:00 first, and then he's dropped it completely for a simpler version for the entire last verse.

Still love Ringo though. Master of behind-the-beat playing. For the best Ringo ever, look no farther than "She Said She Said".
posted by scrowdid at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also worth pointing out that he was the first ex-Beatle to have a big hit solo, with songs like this. Happy birthday, Ringo.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:02 PM on July 7, 2010


Never heard of him . . . . Once again, flapjax turns me on to another undeservedly obscure musical treasure. Thanx.
posted by barrett caulk at 6:02 PM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


Peace and Love, Ringo, peace and love.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:04 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


He almost managed it, too.
posted by chrominance at 6:06 PM on July 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


His son, Zak Starkey, is a pretty good drummer in his own right. He was the one playing drums of the Who during their superbowl performance.
posted by griphus at 6:07 PM on July 7, 2010


I have stopped making fun to Ringo's drumming since attempting it myself on Beatles Rockband.
posted by piratebowling at 6:07 PM on July 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


I was so close to linking that, chrominance. One of my favorite entries on the always fantastic mightygodking.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 6:07 PM on July 7, 2010


I immediately thought you meant Charlie Watts too, but Ringo will do just fine.
posted by Camofrog at 6:10 PM on July 7, 2010


Actually, Paul came up with the drum figure for "Ticket to Ride"

Not that I doubt you (I mean, hell, with "Taxman", which was guitarist George's song, fer chrissake, Paul also happened to have played the best 6-bar guitar solo ever to appear in a Beatles track), but... do you have a cite for that?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:11 PM on July 7, 2010


Remember, kids, start the roll in "Come Together" with your *left* hand.

Happy birthday, Ringo. I don't care that you won't answer my fan mail.
posted by Wolof at 6:13 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Peace and luv, peace and luv!
posted by Madamina at 6:16 PM on July 7, 2010


Dear Metafilter:
Thanks for the fab painting of Yours Truly.
I hung it on me wall. You're quite an artist.
In answer to your question, yes, we do have hamburgers and fries in England.
But we call French fries `chips'. Love, Ringo.
PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:16 PM on July 7, 2010 [24 favorites]


He balances it out by not underrating himself.
posted by ignignokt at 6:21 PM on July 7, 2010


I love his drumming in rain

Happy B-day Ringo!
posted by elmono at 6:22 PM on July 7, 2010


Ringo was always "the one you felt you could have a drink with" because he was so normal and un-star-like. You wouldn't feel all freaked out by the fame like with the other three.
As time passed, this always held true, busting out the occasional singable single to keep his hand in. And he's on tour this year with one of the best nostalgia revues working.
Rock On, Ringo
posted by djrock3k at 6:24 PM on July 7, 2010


he took a drum solo precisely once in his recording career

Maybe so, but he had another song with a mighty sweet drum break.
posted by jonp72 at 6:24 PM on July 7, 2010


do you have a cite for that?

Lennon: "That was one of the earliest heavy-metal records made. Paul's contribution was the way Ringo played the drums." - September 1980, Playboy Interviews.... via the utterly fanstastic reference Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding.

Also agreed on the best 6-bar drum solo.
posted by scrowdid at 6:29 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also agreed on the best 6-bar drum solo.

You mean guitar solo! :)


And thanks for the cite!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:33 PM on July 7, 2010


Rhythmically solid? Surely you jest. I find him to be horrible overrated (even by himself). How I see him: luckiest bastard of the 20th century.
posted by readyfreddy at 6:40 PM on July 7, 2010


Happy Birthday Ringo! I was thinking about him today, listening to The Ballad of John and Yoko and thought, "Damn, Ringo's not even playing the drums on this one."

I read Ringo didn't like doing solos, and the other Beatles had to twist his arm to get to play the one in "The End." One of my current favorite Ringo drum bits is [at 1:45] this little thing. I like to imagine the others planned to all stop there and tricked Ringo into playing that little 2 second solo.

Agreed on Paul's "Taxman" solo, I wouldn't know six bars if I stumbled over them though. I'm also kind of partial to Paul's solo in Good Morning Good Morning.

When I first read your post, I guessed Hal Blaine. Someone needs to do a post on him some day.

Damn it, I used to be able to deep link to a certain point in a youtube video. Can you still do that and does anyone know how?

posted by marxchivist at 6:40 PM on July 7, 2010


"You remember the legend of The Beatles? You remember the Beatle Ringo left his love even though she treated him tender. He was the one Beatle who did not sing, so the earliest forms of the legend go. After a hard day's night he and the rest of the Beatles were torn apart by screaming girls, and he and the other Beatles returned, finally at one, with the great rock and the great roll."

-Sam Delany.
posted by ovvl at 6:43 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rhythmically solid? Surely you jest.

I figured that'd come up from someone sooner or later. And, hey, what can you say? You find his beats to be wobbly, his time to be off, his rhythm unstable? Don't know what Beatles you're listening to, but I can only imagine it's a different one than I've been hearing all these years.

Anyway, no, I don't jest!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:46 PM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ringo is the one on the drums
The others all play with him
It shows you what a boy can become
Without a sense of rhythm


-- "Pop Hates The Beatles", Allan Sherman
posted by briank at 6:47 PM on July 7, 2010


I peace-and-loved at noon per Ringo's request. It was awkward to make such an out of place gesture (in my world), but it felt absolutely fantastic.

Everyone's a Beatles expert apparently. Yes, Paul can play drums. But did you know he just copies Ringo?
posted by quarterframer at 6:50 PM on July 7, 2010


Ringo is disappointed to find
That no one needs him anymore except for the vibe
Because he's been sampled
He is now available as part of the Great Drummer Sample series
For 9.99, available from your local cornershop
Compatible with your cheapest available possible computer
And the irony is it plays in time

posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 7:01 PM on July 7, 2010


Interviewer: Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world?
John Lennon: He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles!

posted by anazgnos at 7:01 PM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


I found my favorite Ringo quote, but not the clip. Still looking, though.

Press: Are you a mod or a rocker?
Ringo: I'm a mocker.

My hero.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 7:02 PM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


When it comes to Ringo, you always have to wonder what kind of hairdresser the world lost with him taking a different path in life.
posted by crunchland at 7:07 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found my favorite Ringo quote, but not the clip. Still looking, though.

Press: Are you a mod or a rocker?
Ringo: I'm a mocker.


Isn't that from A Hard Day's Night?
posted by wabbittwax at 7:07 PM on July 7, 2010


Here it is
posted by wabbittwax at 7:08 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just don't send him anything. He's warning you, with peace and love.
posted by chococat at 7:10 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Beatles became famous as a band that girls liked because it had cute boys in it. Then within a few years they were the most artistically important group in the world. It's as if Backstreet Boys turned into Radiohead.

That must have been disorienting.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:16 PM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


when i was young punk and i hated the beatles i always said ringo was my favorite

now im old and i love the beatles and ringo is still my favorite.

thanks ringo!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:17 PM on July 7, 2010


I think that he and Rachel Welch made the same deal with the devil. I want their plastics guy!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:20 PM on July 7, 2010


Ringo is like Meg White - people who =think= they know something about music hate them. But, dude, if John, Paul and Gorge all like the same drummer, you had damn well best believe that drummer is fucking great.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:26 PM on July 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


He was always the one that looked like he was having the most fun in the band when the rest of them had started hating one another.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:29 PM on July 7, 2010


Here it is

Thanks, wabbittwax. I'd forgotten it was from a movie and not an actual press conference. Whereas, this quote:

Q: "A psychiatrist recently said you're nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presleys."

RINGO: (shaking like Elvis) "It's not true!! It's not true!!"

I know comes from their 1964 press conference in New York, but I can't find a clip of that particular part of the press conference either.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 7:30 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's easy to underestimate Ringo, because he plays a pretty straight and forceful backbeat with some interesting fills. But there's more going on.

Firstly, the sound of the Beatles was, in large part, shaped early on because Paul and Ringo locked into sync as the band's rhythm section. Try not to hear Ringo's drums as separate instruments when you listen to the early stuff -- listen to Paul's bass and Ringo's drums as a team. It's spectacular.

Secondly, Ringo's drum playing was an essential compositional element for the Beatles -- he didn't just come in and lay a beat over a song that was finished, but was invested in the arranging of the songs. He doesn't have solos. He has breaks -- moments when the music is transitioning from one thing to another thing, and his drumming takes it there -- with the Beatles, he was especially good at the moment when a song would amp up its energy. He could drive a song as hard as any player ever, and that's nothing to be sniffed at. Without Ringo, you have some great songs. With Ringo, you have brilliant arrangements.

John and Paul started the Beatles, and George managed to work his way in. But Ringo they fired somebody to get. They were right.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:33 PM on July 7, 2010 [43 favorites]


Ringo once freaked my band out completely by turning up in the audience. This was at a London venue with a capacity of approximately 200. He just stood there with a mate, had a beer, and left. The most ordinary man in the world, in a good way.
posted by unSane at 7:36 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


He doesn't have solos. He has breaks

Yes. This. Think of every Beatles song where it starts out as one thing, and then becomes another... at the moment when it transforms, you will hear Ringo, and Ringo alone. DoomDoomDoom, Doooom... dum-dum-doooom, dumdumdum... pow! (Back to your regularly scheduled pop beat.)

Considering that these changes were due to artistic differences/agreements/strangeness between George, John and Paul, he handled them with aplomb and grace.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:42 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh god, just seeing the title in Google Reader I assumed this was going to be an obitfilter. Don't scare me like that Flapjax!
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:44 PM on July 7, 2010


I'm glad he's finally getting more respect because of the Rock Band game. Deceptively simple beats that are tough to master.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:50 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It Don't Come Easy and Photograph are two brilliant pop songs, equal (dare I say it?) to just about anything the Beatles did.

My 10-year-old has fallen for the Beatles bigtime. It's so fun rediscovering the songs and hearing them vicariously fresh.

We went to look at Ringo's gold-plated Ludwig snare drum at the Metropolitan Museum of Art today. Peace and love!
posted by stargell at 7:51 PM on July 7, 2010


I had a music professor whose main point in favor of Ringo being a great drummer was "Please Please Me" -- they change from 4/4 to 6/8 on the refrain, then quickly back to 4/4 again, and Ringo goes right with it.

I find the whole Ringo/Meg White are terrible memes odd, given that probably 90% of us can't drum (including me).

Happy birthday, Ringo.
posted by dw at 8:15 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


And by "can't drum" I mean if you put a kit in front of me I'd have fallen off rhythm within 8 measures. You have to have an ear for rhythm and enough coordination to translate that to a set of drums and cymbals.
posted by dw at 8:18 PM on July 7, 2010


In all my years in Hong Kong, I have personally met at least 20 Chinese fellows named Ringo.

There's a name with staying power.
posted by bwg at 8:24 PM on July 7, 2010


Drumming is his madness, business, pleasure, middle name, hobby, and friend, and makes him happy. Tragically, it also makes him lose control and go insane.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:37 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Elton and Bernie wrote a great little number for Ringo to sing: Snookeroo (gratuitous Elton demo version here). And Elton and Marc Bolan and Ringo all got together to play Children of the Revolution.

I saw Ringo shopping at Barneys in Beverly Hills a few years ago. He was by himself, holding up a shirt and trying to get the attention of a salesperson. Just like the rest of us, except he was Ringo Starr.
posted by grounded at 8:47 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always thought there was a similarity between Ringo's drumming and Frank Sinatra's singing. Frank was a master at making close enough sound even better than pitch-perfect, and Ringo's drumming with the Beatles had that same conversational (for lack of better term) style. Sure, you could pick it apart and say he was behind the beat here or a little off there, but it just worked and his contributions made the songs better than they ever would have with a pure technician on drums.

And let me say that having played a lot of rock music over the years, a drummer who is content to be a part of the song and isn't looking to turn every drum break into a showcase of his technical brilliance is worth his weight in gold.

Rock on, Ringo.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:48 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ergh... insert 'sound' or 'been' in that screwy sentence as you please, because I failed to choose one.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:52 PM on July 7, 2010


I'm surprised no one's mentioned drummer extraordinaire Phil Collins' comments about Ringo's drumming in the documentary that accompanies the A Hard Day's Night DVD set. He singles out Ringo's contributions to "A Day in the Life", where he does some interesting fills between John's vocal lines (beginning in the 2nd verse).
For those who know the tune intimately, try to imagine that song without Ringo's fills. Virtually impossible.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:13 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday, Ringo.

John, Paul and George were great, but they couldn't have made the group the legend it was without him. Ringo was the Beatle.
posted by yhbc at 9:16 PM on July 7, 2010


It's worth pointing out that Ringo is a lefty drummer playing a righty kit. That allows for some pretty sweet fills that most of us righty drummers can only dream of. It's the same reason reason most righty guitarists can't even begin to approximate Hendrix.

Not to take away anything from his achievements, but if you've ever tried to play along with the Beatles as a drummer (even if only in Rockband) and wondered why it's so hard: that's why.
posted by monospace at 9:41 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Ringo! And I gotta say, he looks fantastic for 70.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:17 PM on July 7, 2010


mucho obrigado
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:36 PM on July 7, 2010


I've been in a beatles mood on last.fm lately, and his solo stuff kept coming up and it's a lot better than I expected (yeah I hadn't heard much of it).

Still wondering if the "cool" order theory holds up... I dunno which one is cooler: Ringo or Paul (I know I think I'm supposed to say Paul, but this past decade or two doesn't look favorably on that sellout punk).

Happy Birthday Mr Conductor!
posted by symbioid at 10:36 PM on July 7, 2010


Everybody thought the Beatles were crazy for dumping Pete Best for Ringo Starr, but they knew what they were doing, somehow. Pete Best may have been a technically better drummer, but he played like everybody else. Ringo was different. Balonius Assault, above, uses the word "conversational" to describe his drumming. That's a good word. Ringo entered into a musical conversation with the band in creating a song.

When a band creates a song together in rehearsal - often modifying it by countless stage repetitions, it's a cross between playing music and composing music. You find a line that fits in with what is going on with the song, and goose it up a level. Drummers don't always do this to the extent that other musicians do, hence all those drummer jokes. (What do you call someone who likes to hang out with musicians? A drummer.)

Ringo listened to the sound the various pieces of his set made (and some other crap, sometimes), and used these sounds to make the song sound better. Sure, a lot of jazz musicians do this, but in rock/pop, musicians and fans are pretty much all right with a drummer laying down a killer beat every time. Nothing wrong with that, but Ringo did something different.

His drumming is probably the reason so many people (like John Waters) thought the Beatles killed rock and roll (or some less extreme variant of this trope). He was creative as hell. Maybe still is. Haven't listened to him for decades. But to state that his drumming was key to the band's success is to state the obvious.
posted by kozad at 10:54 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


And by "can't drum" I mean if you put a kit in front of me I'd have fallen off rhythm within 8 measures. You have to have an ear for rhythm and enough coordination to translate that to a set of drums and cymbals.
posted by dw at 11:18 PM on July 7 [+] [!]


Eponywhat
posted by Sys Rq at 11:09 PM on July 7, 2010


His fills sound like a fat man falling down the stairs. (In a good way.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Beatles became famous as a band that girls liked because it had cute boys in it.

The Beatles were OK, but by the time they broke through, the cool girls in Liverpool preferred The Chants. Hell, even The Beatles preferred The Chants.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:31 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was a little girl, my mother gave me her old record player and a huge box full of vinyl. My classmates were listening to Madonna and NKOTB, while I went home and listened to the Beatles and the Byrds. The copy of Meet the Beatles had she and her sisters' (she had six) names written over the heads of the Beatles that were their favourites. Nobody had ever chosen Ringo. I felt sorry for him, and asked Mom if I could have Ringo as "my" Beatle.

I have felt a vague unwarranted affection for him ever since. Oh, Ringo, the underdog of the Beatles!
posted by titus n. owl at 11:55 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ringo's Christmas album I Wanna Be Santa Claus is one of the most joyous, fun holiday albums I've ever encountered. If you start looking now, you might find a copy sometime in the six months before Xmas 2010. You'll be glad you did.
posted by hippybear at 12:06 AM on July 8, 2010


Don't forget Ringo's rejected theme song for Goldfinger.
posted by minifigs at 1:41 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


i once saw a woman in lidl with a ringo tattoo on her shoulder.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:53 AM on July 8, 2010


I love Ringo. I love the Beatles. Thanks for the post, Flapjax!
posted by maxwelton at 2:26 AM on July 8, 2010


Playing drums on Beatles Rock Band gave me a whole new respect for Ringo.
posted by threeturtles at 4:51 AM on July 8, 2010


I've always thought there was a similarity between Ringo's drumming and Frank Sinatra's singing. Frank was a master at making close enough sound even better than pitch-perfect, and Ringo's drumming with the Beatles had that same conversational (for lack of better term) style. Sure, you could pick it apart and say he was behind the beat here or a little off there, but it just worked and his contributions made the songs better than they ever would have with a pure technician on drums.

I have a pretty rhythmic ear, and I've never noticed him being a beat off.

Sorry.

But seriously, when it might sound like he's off, he is doing it on purpose because that's what the song called for.

I saw his band on Soundstage fairly recently and it struck me that even for a 60-something year old guy who has been in the business for a while, he was still slightly uncomfortable on stage. In the "I want to do a good job for the audience, I hope I don't screw up" endearing kind of way.
posted by gjc at 5:41 AM on July 8, 2010


I peace-and-loved at noon per Ringo's request .

There is no way that the man in that video is 70.

Ringo seems like a hell of a nice guy, and of course I can't echo enough the notion that he was absolutely integral to the Beatles' sound. Technical proficiency does not great drumming make, or else we'd all just use drum machines and be done with it. The man knows how to support a song.

Remember, kids, start the roll in "Come Together" with your *left* hand.

This thread has actually just blown my mind a little bit. I'm also a natural lefty who drums right-handed. I start *every* fill with my left hand. It has never, ever occurred to me that this is not normal. Of course, I don't sound like Ringo, but that's another story...
posted by uncleozzy at 5:56 AM on July 8, 2010


My sister went to the Philadelphia Beatles concert in '66. The stadium was packed. She reported later that the screaming began well before the Beatles appeared and ended long after. The entire stadium... screaming. She said if any music was actually performed it was inaudible, and the Beatles themselves were so distant and so closely guarded that it was hard to tell if they were for real. She was hoarse for days.

I sat in the car nearby that night with my folks, waiting to pick up my sister and her friends, and heard the last part of the show. The crowd noise was indescribable. I recall girls wearing enormous "I love PAUL" buttons and newsboy caps with faces red from weeping streaming from the gates. It's almost incomprehensible, the level of hysteria the Beatles inspired.

Hard to believe only two of the band remain. Ringo always was my favorite. He was quite affecting and natural in "Hard Day's Night" and I always thought he could have been an interesting actor. These days, he seems to be quite grounded, with real integrity.

And yes, I agree that his drumming is underrated. The Beatles was more than the sum of its parts, but those parts were pretty doggone amazing. They would not have sounded the same without Ringo's beats.

Happy birthday, Ringo.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:34 AM on July 8, 2010


Ringo seems like a hell of a nice guy

Not that it detracts from his drumming, but didn't he beat up his wife in a coke-fuelled rage?
posted by Beardman at 7:02 AM on July 8, 2010


No, no. You're thinking of Glenn Beck and that incident with that girl in 1990.

(Seriously, WTF? If you're going to make allegations like that, do the f'in research and provide basis for them. Otherwise, you're just an ugly rumormonger.)
posted by hippybear at 7:20 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's the same reason reason most righty guitarists can't even begin to approximate Hendrix.

Hendrix's right-handed Strat was restrung as a lefty, so it was merely upside down. His licks can be reproduced by right-handers in a straightforward manner. Albert King, on the other hand, played a right-handed guitar upside down and backwards (strung as a righty), so his stuff is tricky.

Anyway, happy birthday, Ringo.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:24 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jay Osmond is not 70.
posted by mecran01 at 7:45 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hippybear: #13 in a list of 70 things You didn't Know about Ringo Starr : "Ringo entered rehab after waking up one morning to find his wife Barbara Bach battered and bloody beside him. He had beat her, but couldn’t remember anything from the night before."
posted by crunchland at 7:59 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a pretty rhythmic ear, and I've never noticed him being a beat off.

Sorry.


No need to apologize. It's not uncommon for people to accuse Ringo of being a sloppy drummer, and it's not hard to find examples of where, yeah, he isn't precisely on the beat, but that kind of criticism misses the point completely. What I was getting at was that to my ear it's a lot like how Sinatra's innate sense of when to land on a note made his singing so much better than if it had been perfectly precise (cough, Michael Bublé). That's not to say that I'd consider Ringo to be the Chairman of the Board of Drummers, but in some ways it's even more impressive because whereas a singer's wiggle room extends into rhythm and melody, a drummer is pretty much limited to the realm of rhythm.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2010


anazgnos said:
Interviewer: Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world?
John Lennon: He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles!


Not that I doubt the accuracy of John's quote, but I'm pretty sure he was joking. After all, Ringo was the drummer on John's first solo album. (Which he was awesome on, by the way)
posted by rocket88 at 8:35 AM on July 8, 2010


Great post and thread; I've learned some stuff, and I appreciate Ringo even more (even though—obligatory disclaimer—John is my favorite Beatle). And man, who takes pleasure out of dissing Ringo? Go out and find a puppy to kick!
posted by languagehat at 8:38 AM on July 8, 2010


I had a music professor whose main point in favor of Ringo being a great drummer was "Please Please Me" -- they change from 4/4 to 6/8 on the refrain. . .

I sure hope you are misquoting him, dee-dub.

The story of the Beatles is one of the most successful group efforts to bring musical grasp into alignment with reach. Group dynamics is a mystery of the first water, and technical proficiency is only one layer.

In other words, dash trumps flash.

Thanks for reminding us, Flapjax.
posted by Herodios at 8:42 AM on July 8, 2010


dash trumps flash

That reminds me: last week was Jeff Beck's 62nd birthday, and no FPP. Too bad.
posted by Herodios at 8:45 AM on July 8, 2010


> last week was Jeff Beck's 62nd birthday, and no FPP. Too bad.

Man, I hope there's an invisible hamburger there. If we start commemorating everyone's every birthday, we're in big trouble. Round numbers are OK.
posted by languagehat at 9:15 AM on July 8, 2010


Paul McCartney joined Ringo onstage last night at Radio City to play Birthday.
posted by shannonm at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2010


gjc -- Now that I've had my morning coffee I realize you were probably making a joke and it went right over my head. Sorry.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2010


I played drums for many years. The two drummers who inspired me the most as a kid were John Bonham and Ringo Starr. Both had their critics, but to me they showed more personality in their playing than most drummers could. Ringo and Paul made a fantastic team, and The Beatles would not have been nearly as good without him. And even though he's not a great singer, Octopus's Garden is still a favorite of mine.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:29 AM on July 8, 2010


chrominance! Thankyou! That was just wonderful... (off to explore mightygodking.com...
posted by wawawawa at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2010


The man who wrote Octopus's Garden can do no wrong. Happy Birthday, Mr Starkey!

(Did you know that the boat captain who told Ringo all about how octopuses build charming little underwater gardens was Peter Sellers? It's true!)
posted by Aquaman at 1:16 PM on July 8, 2010


hippybear is going to want proof.
posted by crunchland at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2010


Happy birthday Ringo, and thanks for inventing trip hop.
posted by mintcake! at 2:03 PM on July 8, 2010


crunchland: no. I really only ask for proof when people are making scandalous allegations. Are you planning on following me around the Blue from now on? Sorry that I got your goat in a totally different thread, but I won't stop asking for citations for allegations of political sabotage or wife-beating.

Besides, this wikipedia article suggests that Sellars owned the boat, but it was the captain which told him about the habits of the octopus and his garden.
posted by hippybear at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just watching some of the more recent Ringo clips, it occurred to me that it must be tough to be in Ringo's current touring band. They're under some big audience pressure to basically be the Beatles for an evening, so Ringo can sing his two underwater songs and With a Little Help from My Friends, etc.
posted by chococat at 3:32 PM on July 8, 2010


Sorry, hippybear. I shouldn't have made that joke at your expense. Thanks for the info on Peter Sellers.
posted by crunchland at 3:52 PM on July 8, 2010


We're cool, crunchland. Here's some schmoopy. :D
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on July 8, 2010


sorry I'm late on this and happy belated birthday Ringo!

My favorite Ringo moment is the way he used to keep time with his cigarette: you can see in the "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" scene in "Help!" that, after the intro, he starts puffing on the "one." It's awesome.

Also also, re: all the John and Paul ragging on Ringo's drumming - Ringo was the designated punching bag for keeping things light in what had to be a pretty wound-up atmosphere. Just think - if they'd had two Ringos, the Beatles might still be together!
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:43 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


there's another sense in which ringo contributed heavily to the beatles - his ability to get a drum part down fairly quickly so the rest of the band could have time to screw around in the studio and come up with what they wanted to - a lot of bands in the 60s had to struggle with the drummer finding a part before they could build the rest of the track

ringo wasn't just a time-keeper, he was a time-saver
posted by pyramid termite at 10:54 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sure hope you are misquoting him, dee-dub.

It was 17 years ago, so I probably am. But he did point out when you hit the "C'mon c'mon" part he transitions perfectly to a completely different rhythm and back without any hesitation.
posted by dw at 2:19 PM on July 9, 2010


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