The secret of ringo starr’s contribution to the beatles

Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr – the Ordinary One

To unravel the secret of the Beatles, it is helpful to visualize the four Beatles as the four corners of an album cover. The top left corner was John, the rebel. The top right corner Paul, the musical talent. The lower left corner George, the spiritual one, and the lower right corner Ringo, the ordinary one. The resulting mix was balanced and offered something for everyone.

There is this anecdote where John asks Ringo to drum the same as on a record he heard and Ringo says, “But John, these are two guys.” After which John answers, “Don’t let that bother you.”

The Boy Next Door

Ringo, the ordinary one, unintentionally, made sure that the Beatles did not become unattainable, especially at the peak of their popularity. He was and remained the normal one, the boy next door. We can still relate to these extraordinary people, especially John and Paul, through Ringo, who just seemed to be a nice chap.

We awe him very much. Congratulations Ringo!

Peter Eijgenhuijsen

The Beatles in The Bahamas – Shades of Life

The Beatles Help!
The Beatles Help!

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Happy Birthday Ringo Starr – and Jim McCartney

Ringo Starr

As we continue our celebration of Ringo Starr’s birthday, Angie McCartney gives her tribute to Ringo, and her late husband, and Paul’s father, Jim McCartney, who share the same birthday.

Angie McCartney Visiting Ringo

“Shortly after we were married, we took a trip to London to visit Paul. He drove us around each of The Beatles’ houses. When we visited Ringo and Maureen, our first impression was of little Zak, playing up in his tree house.  We had a nice afternoon tea, and then Ritchie asked Uncle Jim (as he called him) if we would like a tour of the house, which we of course were delighted to do.

New Fangled Machines

“As a side note, I had been bugging Jim for a dishwasher, as we had so many visitors to Rembrandt in those days. Mike would frequently bring a gang home late at night after a Scaffold gig or some other gathering, and I would come downstairs to a sea of dishes in the morning. Jim wasn’t in favour of these “new fangled machines” as he called them. So before we set off, I mentioned this to Ritchie. When we got to their marvellous kitchen, he made a point of showing Jim their dishwasher, showing him how it all worked etc.

Angie McCartney
Angie McCartney

So later, on our way back to town in Paul’s car, Jim turned to me and said “OK, you win. You can order one from Brown’s of Chester when we get home.” I finally got a shiny new dishwasher. My pride and joy. My new toy.

Until Jim had seen Maureen’s machine, he had the impression that the dishes went round and around, a bit like a clothes washer.

Cheers.

Angie McCartney

Understanding Ringo Starr’s Drumming – A Tribute

Understanding Ringo Starr’s Drumming Technique

Learning Ringo’s Drum Parts

Phil Kelly has been playing drums for the best part of his life, including playing in Beatles tribute bands and learning to play like Ringo. It don’t come easy!

Forty plus years later Phil has never looked back, playing with a number of Boston and local based ‘60s/’70s bands such as The Jammers, Sherman and the Waybacks, Mr. Peabody and Beatle tribute bands such as Instant Karma, BeatleTracks, and Glass Onion.

Phil Kelly
Phil Kelly

“Seemingly, all of that became clear when the camera zoomed in above John, Paul and George in the middle of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I was immediately awestruck by how easily Ringo swayed to the music behind his Ludwig Black Oyster Pearl kit. So, without even knowing his impact on the world, Ringo has inspired millions of kids just like me to pick up a set of stick and emulate every little nuisance of his playing.” 

A Lefty on a Righty

Like many drummers, attempting to emulate Ringo wasn’t as easy as it appeared. “The problem is Ringo is a left handed drummer playing a right handed kit,” said Phil, “and as a result his drum fills are counter-intuitive and difficult to reproduce exactly.” 

Kelly explained what it is like, as a drummer, and especially one who has played in a Beatles tribute band, to recreate Ringo’s drum patterns. “When a right handed drummer like myself does a drum fill around the kit, we lead with our right hand. Ringo, being a left handed drummer, leads with his dominant left hand. The end result of this unorthodox style of drumming produces a different sound because of the crossing of the left hand over the right. This nuisance is inherently Ringo’s playing style and ironically, it is what makes his drumming style challenging.

Tell Me Why

“A practical example of this uniqueness can be found when Ringo plays the opening measures to ‘Tell Me Why’. He leads with his left hand in the tumbling drum fill off the tom and snare. Later in that song, Ringo plays a measure of triplets (again leading with his left hand) that leads nicely into the final refrain and the tumbling drum fills to end the tune. The same can be said for Ringo’s drumming on ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. In this song, Ringo attacks the snare and tom with powerful accents, again leading with his left hand that complements the phrasing by John and Paul on the song’s title.

The Swish

“Another nuisance that was revolutionary and a very much a part of the early Beatle recording (and one that I learned early in my Beatle tribute band days) was to play the hi-hat in a slightly opened position, playing the time sequence (usually in quarter notes) in a figure eight pattern. When Ringo played this unique style, it produced a totally different sonic than playing straight up and down quarter notes. The end result is a rhythmic pattern that gives the song a swing feel and because of the slightly open positioning of the hi-hats, creates a sizzle or swishing sound. Ostensibly, Ringo’s style of hi-hat play turned the hi-hat into what sounds like a ride cymbal. Evidence of this style of hi-hat playing can best be found in ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘All My Loving’.

Ringo’s Feel For The Song

“Ringo’s drumming is not overly technical but the strength of his drumming is his feel for the song. There are hundreds of technically superb drummers that are adept at sight reading from charts, but few have the feel for a song that Ringo possesses. Jim Keltner, the great studio drummer and long-time admirer of Ringo’s playing, said; ‘everything Ringo played had such great, deep natural feel. He’s a song drummer. Guys that sit down and they hear the song and they play appropriately for that song.’

The Relaxed Swing

“Anyone can learn how to play quarter, eights and sixteenth notes but having a feel for a song is a very special skill. I realized early on in my playing career that to accurately reproduce Ringo’s drumming style, I needed to master the use of my left hand in accentuating my fills around the kit, while focusing on that relaxed swing he brought to every note. The challenge for myself, even today, is to allow that feel to come through without rushing the tempo.

“One of the things that always amazed me about Ringo’s drumming is his ability to reproduce a nearly flawless tempo take after take. His drumming is always spot on; he never overplayed his part, and always provided exactly what the song needed. As a young drummer learning the craft, I try to model these tenets of playing into my own style.

No Beatles without Ringo

Ringo, for me, and I’m sure many others influenced by him, is the reference point used as to what a great drummer is and should be. I’ve always argued with my musical colleagues that the Beatles don’t become the Beatles without Ringo’s unique style of drumming.”

Discover more about Ringo and why he is rightly considered one of the all-time greatest drummers in Finding the Fourth Beatle.

David Bedford

So I Doorstepped Ringo and Asked Him to Go For a Pint

Ringo Starr relaxing at home
Ringo Starr relaxing at home

David Stark recalls door-stepping Ringo one Saturday night in 1970, when he and a pal decided to ask him out for a pint. 

Finding Ringo’s House

Compton Avenue turned out to be a secluded private road situated almost opposite the entrance of Kenwood House, a former stately home on the posh side of Hampstead Heath in north London. We parked on Spaniards Road, walked a few yards to our destination street and eventually found Ringo’s house, after getting a little help from Lulu and Maurice Gibb, who also lived in the road at the time. We’d rung their bell first, not knowing which house was Ringo’s, but they kindly pointed it out to us at the end of the street, a large double-fronted house named Round Hill. 

Ringo's house in London NW3
Ringo’s house in London NW3

Ringo opened the door

There was obviously some kind of party going on judging from the cars parked in and around Ringo’s drive, but we mustered up some Dutch courage, rang the bell, then held our breath and waited. We didn’t have to wait long, as the door was opened by the famous drummer himself, casually dressed and holding a pool cue. He was obviously in the middle of a game and wondering what the hell we were doing there.

“How can I help you, lads?” he asked.

“We were just wondering if you’d like to come out for a pint,” I volunteered, feeling somewhat stupid but at least sticking to the plan.

“That’s very nice of you but I’m afraid we’ve got friends in tonight,” Ringo replied, looking rather bemused but taking it all in his stride. 

“Another time maybe,” he added.

Eric Clapton

As he said this, I suddenly spotted Eric Clapton walking through the hallway just a few feet behind him, so he wasn’t just fobbing us off. We quickly said our goodbyes as Ringo closed the door, then off we headed up the street and back to the car, laughing our silly heads off. All great fun and definitely something a bit different to do on a boring Saturday night in London.

© 2020 David Stark / This Day In Music Books

Get David’s Book Now

Ringo starr playing the mandolin

Ringo on set of the Magical Mystery Tour set
Ringo on set of the Magical Mystery Tour set

Spencer Davis

While on the MMT in Cornwall the Beatles friend “Spencer Davis” who had recently had a hit with the single “Keep on Running” invited a few of us to the family owned “Tywarnhayle Inn”

The cast and the crew had an exhausted days  filming and decided not to come but that didn’t stop Paul and Ringo and ME going there.

Ringo on the Mandolin

We walked in and when the regulars saw Paul/ Ringo the whole pub fell quiet-and then shouted give us a Beatle song which Paul didn’t want to do. He got a pint of beer and headed straight to the piano which was in the corner, put his beer down and started to play “Knees-up Mother Brown” and Ringo picked up a an old Mandolin which was in the corner which had only one string.

Blood!

After many drinks and many songs Ringo announced that he had worn his finger away while playing and  blood was all over his hand.

We left after midnight and I expect the “Tywarnhayle Inn” is still talking about the night Paul and Ringo played there!

Leslie Cavendish

“Excerpt from my book “THE CUTTING EDGE”

happy birthday ringo – Ringo at the B.B. King In London sessions

Ringo at the BB King Sessions  in London, 1970
Ringo at the BB King Sessions in London, 1970

Elvis’ Drummer

“He never varied from that tempo. He had the greatest conception of tempo I’ve ever heard in my life. I have never heard anybody play that steady in my life, and that’s a long time.” D.J. Fontana (Drummer for Elvis and many more).

Like A Clock

D.J. Fontana’s recollection of two ‘jams’ (18 and 20 minutes respectively) recorded during the sessions for Ringo’s Beacoups Of Blues LP in 1970 were later echoed by B.B. King, who referred to Ringo as keeping time ‘like a clock.’ Yet despite being lauded for his legendary ‘feel’ and idiosyncratic drumming style, Ringo Starr is still undervalued by many for that most important of drumming skills – timekeeping. That is, after all, the most important job of a drummer. So how did that skill translate into the Beatles’ recorded output?

Many of the early Beatles releases were subject to extensive edits – the piecing together of different takes – or in numerous cases the ‘tagging-on’ of edit-pieces – the addition of separately recorded sections (usually endings) to the body of the main acceptable take. It is testament to Ringo’s ‘internal clock’ that he was able to recall the exact tempo of a performance, even after a couple of minutes of chatter had elapsed. 

The IIlusion of Perfect Timekeeping

Ringo was capable of keeping perfect time, but he was also the master of creating the illusion of perfect timekeeping. Occasionally he would also quite deliberately alter the timing of a performance, be it in the studio or more commonly, a live performance. Rather like gently tapping your foot on a car’s accelerator (gas) pedal, he would allow the music to shift tempo backwards and forwards, ever so slightly, as and when the song required it.

This can be quite some feat to achieve, the trick is to make the listener (or more importantly your fellow musicians) blissfully unaware of what has happened, but wondering just what has happened! When recently asked if he could pass on one piece of advice to any young, aspiring drummers, Ringo offered – “Speed up during the guitar solo!” – surely a piece of tongue in cheek advice? 

Ringo Starr and the Beatles Beat

Read more about Ringo’s legendary drumming style in Ringo Starr And The Beatles Beat, Ringo’s White Album, and Ringo’s Abbey Road – available from the Beatles Book Store!

help! beatles in the bahamas

The Beatles – Help!

Beatles in the Bahamas!! Focal Points Webinar 20 July  – 7:30 Central Sharing  Not Just One, but TWO “Help!” Episodes!! FREE!

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The John Lennon Series – Catch Up On the First 4 Volumes