Jul. 7, 2014

Ringo Starr: My Favorite Drummer

by Marc Platt
c/o marcplatt.net

Richard Starkey (aka Ringo Starr) was born July 7, 1940 in Liverpool. He is the oldest Beatle in age and also the first drummer in my consciousness, therefore my all-time favorite stickman.

I will not try to convince you that he is the "BEST" rock n roll drummer of all time, but I will give you the reasons he is my favorite.

Ringo was not the first Beatles drummer, but he solidified a unit that needed a rock solid timekeeper. Along with Paul McCartney on bass, the world opened up for The Beatles once he joined the Fab Four.

From "Please Please Me"' in 1963 through "Get Back" in 1970 the studio tracks excelled with Starr's drumming. It is a major part of the sound they created. The landscape of rock n' roll would not be the same without Starr and the Beatles.

It has been said that The Beatles had a history of not always playing in perfect timing and Ringo was criticized for not being flashy like Keith Moon of the Who was. Others have said that Starr was a beneficiary of luck.

I strongly disagree about the luck factor. The Beatles were lucky that Starr was available when they needed to make the change from a shakey Pete Best. Producer George Martin was adamant that Best would not be used on their recordings. Manager Brian Epstein saw the writing on the wall with the chemistry of Lennon, McCartney & Harrison with the moody Pete Best and oft-times Best was not "with the program."

Ringo had played with the band when Best was not available and fit in personality-wise with the other three. 

Ringo started off with a bang with great signature drumming for songs like "She Loves You," a song in which his great drum roll intro blasts the song into our psyches forever.

How about the great oft-time drumming on "Ticket To Ride." I had never heard such interesting drumming approaches before. Maybe Gene Krupa comes to mind in the Big Band genre.

How about "Rain?"

Have you ever heard as ambitious drumming in rock BEFORE that track? I certainly don't remember recordings BEFORE that 1966 recording with as interesting time signature drumming. The other side of that single "Paperback Writer" is just as intersting and adept.

The stick work on the entire Sgt. Pepper project is stellar and signature to Starr.

I know Paul McCartney played drums on several tracks like "Back In The USSR," but how about Ringo's drumming on "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" and "Helter Skelter" on the White Album. How rock solid is Ringo on "Yer Blues" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps?"

Abbey Road is the final Beatles record and I am more than fond of Ringo's work on tracks like "Come Together," "I Want You," "Something" and the entire "Medley."

Ringo never considered himself an individual player, but his fine solo to begin that final "The End" part of the medley is simply awesome and over the years Starr has been very proud of that solo. He always disdained drum solos, but his mates insisted and it is simply excellent.

Ringo always has been my favorite rock drummer and always will be.

I was 5-years-old when I received Rubber Soul in December 1965. It would change my life forever and Ringo is one quarter of the reason, but I along with most of the world really fell in love with his personna in the "A Hard days Night" film.

Whether you love Ringo or just appreciate The Beatles, it is always a good idea to celebrate his artistry as The Beatles fine drummer whenever possible.