Richard Starkey- aka Ringo Starr turns seventy-seven years old today. Ringo of course was the drummer for the little outfit out of Liverpool named The Beatles.
Somewhere along the line someone quipped that Ringo was somehow just lucky to have attached his star to The Beatles, that he was along for the ride. That is wrong. There is no question that John and Paul were the driving force behind The Beatles but The Beatles were about chemistry. Before Ringo The Beatles had Pete Best as their drummer [and many before him} From all accounts Pete wasn’t much of a drummer. He was good on the rock and roll numbers but pretty sad on anything else. He was also a loner who kept to himself and it’s not that he didn’t get along well with John, Paul and George- he just wasn’t apart of things. In the Hamburg days- when The Beatles really jelled- Pete was around when they performed and then went his own way. The other three were tight- and shared the same interests and sense of humor. The Beatles got to know Ringo in Hamburg and they go on well with him. He was a lot like they were. Ringo was playing at the time with Rory and The Hurricanes the group that before The Beatles went to Hamburg -that was considered the best band in Liverpool.
There are letters sent from that time by George back home to Liverpool that stated- that Rory and The Hurricanes in his opinion weren’t much of a band but they had a great drummer. The Beatles all liked Ringo but at that time there was no thought of dropping Pete for Ringo. John would later say- “We just added Pete before we went to Hamburg and Ringo was in a band, there wasn’t any thought of stealing someone else’s drummer.”
Eventually Pete is dumped and Ringo replaces him. Ringo was the drummer for The Beatles and had the personality to fit right in with the others.. Ringo knew his limitations. He wasn’t a songwriter. They had John and Paul pumping out the songs and George would grow as a songwriter as the years went by. Ringo generally sang one song on every album. Ringo was good with that. In all the reading I have done in the last 40 years on The Beatles I can’t recall Ringo’s ego ever getting in the way. He was the glue. The other three always got on well with Ringo. Look at The Beatles after they broke up. Ringo played on the other Beatles solo albums and they all played with him, wrote him songs. Also it is easy to forget in the first year of Beatlemania, Ringo’s popularity was right up there with the others. I know The Beatles wouldn’t have made it without John or Paul. I don’t think they would have made it without Ringo [or George} either. After the break-up George once commented that he had played with a lot of great musicians since the break-up and that ‘we’ aka The Beatles weren’t great musicians. The key to The Beatles success was the chemistry they had together. They were like a basketball team that won because they played so well together. Ringo was an essential part of that team.
How about Ringo as a drummer? Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles. He wouldn’t have been the perfect drummer for Led Zeppelin but the great John Bonham wouldn’t have been what The Beatles needed either. Ringo played the song. He wasn’t a show off- he didn’t like playing drum solos. [ there is nothing worse than a concert with a 15 minute drum solo- what misery.} Ringo wasn’t flashy, he didn’t draw attention to himself- he did what he was supposed to do. Ringo was an excellent drummer- Listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Rain”, “Helter Skelter” “A Day In The Life”, “She Loves You”, “She Said She Said”,”I Feel Fine”, “Get Back” and countless other songs where he shines- and tell me that Ringo was a marginal talent.
Johnathan Gould author of “Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America” has written – ‘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.’