There are plenty of rock ‘n’ roll myths knocking around, but perhaps the cruellest is the idea that “Ringo Starr isn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles”. A rumour once circled that John Lennon uttered these devastating words, but the truth is that it actually spawned from a BBC radio comedy show. But that’s not the most annoying thing about the myth. The real issue here is that Ringo Starr is one of the most gifted drummers of his generation.
Now before your snorts of derision reach the upper end of the decibel scale, let us explain. Though Starr may not be considered the most powerful or technical drummer in the world, he was, as Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl once said, “The King of Feel”. Stylish to the end, Starr’s performances for the Fab Four were always gilded with the nonchalant and elegant pizzazz of the percussionist’s inherent buoyancy. Below, we’re looking back at the isolated drum track for The Beatles classic ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and celebrating one of the most underrated drummers of all time.
The song itself was born out of a place of sincere duality. Penned by George Harrison, the song arrived after the guitarist joined Eric Clapton for a walk around his estate. Harrison was struggling to find a songwriting foothold within The Beatles and leaned on Clapton for friendly advice. Following his arrest for possession of marijuana, which arrived shortly after having his tonsils removed and him quitting The Beatles briefly, the stress and negativity all got too much for the guitarist, and he needed to escape the pressure of the world for a moment or two of clarity.
Reflecting on the period of his life years later, he disclosed in detail in his autobiography I, Me, Mine: “‘Here Comes the Sun’ was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: ‘Sign this’ and ‘sign that.’ Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever; by the time spring comes, you really deserve it.” Referring to the moment of the song’s origination, it seems fitting that the track is now a permanent fixture on spring playlists forevermore.
Adding: “So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric’s acoustic guitars and wrote ‘Here Comes the Sun.’” Given the delicacy of the song’s inception, when the group finally got around to recording it, Ringo Starr knew his pace and patterns had to be perfect, and he didn’t disappoint.
Recorded on Starr’s 29th birthday, it was magic take number thirteen, or “twelve and a half” if you ask the technicians selected by the band for the song’s release. Starr has always managed to contribute as much to the band’s songs with what he didn’t play as much as the fills he did. It’s a talent that very few rock drummers have in their arsenal, but one Starr used at his leisure.
Below, you can hear that very gentle style as part of Ringo Starr’s isolated drum track for The Beatles song ‘Here Comes The Sun’.