There have been plenty of errors mad in rock music. One need only look back a few decades to see the grave injustices that permeate the genre being enacted. But one of the greatest issues we have is the idea that Ringo Starr wasn’t an excellent drummer. As such, we’ve made it our mission to ensure everybody understands just how pertinent the Fab Four’s affable member was to The Beatles’ success.
Too often has The Beatles drummer has been the butt of some unkind and, frankly, unwarranted jokes. Reportedly purported by his bandmate John Lennon, the adage goes that when asked about whether Ringo was the best drummer in the world, the bespectacled Beatle responded: “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles.” Thankfully, that myth has been dispelled, and the joke traced back to a 1981 radio show featuring Jasper Carrott to prove that nobody within the band thought of Ringo as anything less than integral to their sound. The isolated drum track for The Beatles’ classic ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ is a testament to his impeccable timing and style.
Now, we’re not here to say that Ringo Starr is close to the top of the pile when it comes to percussionists. In fact, there’s a good case to say he wouldn’t scrape the top ten. What Ringo did was prove that drumming didn’t have to be all flash and folly to be useful in the rock world. Instead, he could be determined and purposeful, stylish and succinct and not have any need for the superfluous fills that littered music both before and after him. In fact, his refusal to embellish his playing style is what endeared him to the rest of The Beatles.
McCartney remembered when speaking to Mark Lewisohn, the group cornered Ringo and asked: “What about drum solos, then? We were thinking he would say, yeah, I’ll have a five hour one in the middle of your set. And he said, ‘I hate em!’ We said, ‘Great! We love you!’”
One man who knows his way around the drum kit is former-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl who instantly recognises the game-changing style of Ringo Starr: “Define ‘best drummer in the world’,” Grohl said in a tribute video for Starr’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame presentation. “Is it someone that’s technically proficient? Or is it someone that sits in the song with their own feel? Ringo was the king of feel.”
One such song that sees Ringo at the top of his game is the wonderful ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’. While the song was reportedly only making reference to the mind-altering drug LSD by accident, it sees some of Lennon and McCartney’s most experimental music and lyrics. It’s the kind of musical wonderment that could easily be lost or misplaced without something tying it all together. That something, invariably, was Ringo Starr.
We could get lost telling you all about the song’s vast references, but the truth is, we’re here to celebrate Ringo Starr’s steady, perfectly-timed and expertly delivered contribution to the song. So, hear his isolated drums for The Beatles song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’.