***NEW BLOG SERIES: DRUM LEGENDS*** (VOL.1 – Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, Neil Peart, Steve Jordan)
RINGO STARR IS ONE OF THE GREATEST DRUMMERS OF ALL TIME…not a sentence you hear all that much. But it is definitely one I am going to use here. In terms of technique – the statement is not true. In terms of natural talent – no. In terms of skill – no. In terms of reading music – no. Etc etc…you get my drift. But in terms of playing the right beat for the song, in terms of knowing what to play and when to play it – Ringo is one of the most influential, most copied, most underrated and most beloved drummers of all time. It helps being in perhaps the most celebrated and popular band of all time, The Beatles. Unfortunately some people have not appreciated Ringo because he isn’t “technically” a good player. And they’ll use the argument that he couldn’t play to a click, he didn’t (supposedly) play on all of The Beatles songs, and that Paul McCartney said he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles. I must admit I used to snub Ringo. But once I delved into his playing, his unique, left-handed on a right-handed kit style, his sloppy hi hat hits, his inventive drumming – I came to love him. I mean, Ringo has played some really cool beats over the years, ‘Rain’ being a great example. What about ‘Ticket To Ride’? ‘Come Together’? ‘The End’? ‘Helter Skelter?’ ‘Help?’ Of course, there are so many more great Ringo moments. What are yours? Leave a comment below.
Ringo still plays drums and tours into his 70s, wearing well for his age – and currently has drumming legend Gregg Bissonette, one of my favourite drummers of all time (and who is a Christian himself) playing in his band.
Gregg constantly talks up Ringo’s skills in interviews and mentions things such as: what about the “coolness” factor? Ringo looked great behind that beautiful Ludwig drum set! He had a big hand in making Ludwig drums famous worldwide. And let’s not forget Ringo also helped made Modern Drummer magazine famous by giving them the 1st interview he had done in a long time – back in 1982. Here’s a snippet from that interview:
MD: What were the highlights of your time in the Beatles, in terms of the band and your playing?
Ringo: “As an act, which we were, the Palladium or the Ed Sullivan Show, because they were definite moves in a career. We still wanted to be the biggest band in the world. Not that we knew it would be a monster, but we knew we were aiming somewhere and the only [way to measure] it is popularity. And we did become the most popular group on earth, so there’s all those moves.
[In terms of playing], the “Rain” session, where something just comes out of the bag, that just arrives—that’s exciting. It’s not a conscious thing—it just happens, and some sessions can get exciting. Musically, sometimes you would be blown away with what came out, but not every time. Other times you did the best you could, and if it worked, great. But sometimes magic just came out of the blue, and it comes out for everybody.
To play with three other people, any other people, when it works is when everyone is hitting it together, no one is racing, no one’s dragging, the song is good or the track is good and the music is good…. If you’re not a musician, I don’t know if you’ll understand it, when three, four, or ten of you, or a hundred-piece orchestra, hit it together for as much time as you can—because there’s very few times it goes through the whole track, never mind the whole album—there’s a magic in that that is unexplainable. I can’t explain what I get from that. It’s getting high for me. Just a pure musical high.”
And here’s some quotes from another MD interview from 2005:
MD: Do you ever record with a click-track?
Ringo: Never do. Click tracks make me too tense. I’m useless with a click track. I’m just not from the click track school.
MD: How did you develop the two-handed snare/floor-tom rolls, like on “Tell Me Why” and “Help”?
Ringo: Well, it’s the only way I can do it, I suppose. That’s just how it worked out. I didn’t develop anything really; I just did it that way.
So, for me the verdict is unanimous – without Ringo Starr, or to call him by his real name, Richard Starkey, drumming would not be what it is today. He is one of the most influential drummers – ever. Ringo is a legend. And he probably couldn’t tell what some of the basic rudiments are. What an encouragement to us as drummers in Church that even if we don’t know it all, but if we play with heart, keep having a desire to learn, then we will accomplish much. We will Glorify God through our drumming – our worship. And if we want a lesson in keeping time, and a lesson in learning to play for the song -especially if that song is in Church – then listening to Ringo is a good start. 🙂
This is a great video of Ringo getting inducted to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. There are a few swear words in here if you prefer not to watch – but the acclaim that Ringo receives from rock drummer royalty (Dave Grohl, Chad Smith, Jim Keltner etc) and the sound of his classic Ludwig drum kit is enough to make this video worthwhile of a mention.