The ‘forgotten’ Beatle, Ringo Starr, often remained the peace-loving backbone of the flourishing band throughout their transition from pop stars to genius musicians. Even beyond that, Ringo has always remained, simply, Ringo — an affable and lovable figure of the Fab Four. Yet, he struggles to be recognised as so vital to their success. With the least writing credits to his name and his understated style, it seemingly became a common joke about Ringo’s impact, or lack thereof, on The Beatles’ rise.
It’s a statement that is quickly rubbished when reflecting on the band’s work. Looking back through the Fab Four’s output, Starr is, without doubt, a trendsetting percussionist, far from the label he has so often had to shake off. More so than any other drummer before, or possibly since, he was wholly concentrated on bringing the style back to percussion. But that didn’t stop people from overlooking his talent and claiming Ringo as a fraud.
It’s a theory that was largely started with the rumour that upon being asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, his bandmate, John Lennon, allegedly replied: “Ringo wasn’t the best drummer in the world… Let’s face it, he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles”
Though one can’t actually attribute the joke to Lennon himself, having recently been discovered to have featured first in a 1981 radio show (and not Jasper Carott), it’s certainly a myth that many still believe. Yet, if you listen closely to the isolated drum track on The Beatles’ ‘She Said She Said’ it’s clear that Ringo Starr was an understated genius.
Ringo’s unorthodox drumming style has given the band some of the most memorable moments in their songs. Take, for instance, the John Lennon-written bluesy classic ‘Come Together’. Starr’s drums on this single are a testament to his laconic style. His style is swinging and cultured, as he “plays with his shoulder”—it leads to some off-beat and unique fills. It’s a style that is almost impossible to replicate.
The song ‘She Said She Said’, a track penned by Lennon for the 1966 album Revolver, was once described as “an ‘acidy’ song” by Lennon. It was the beginning of the band’s rejection of their popstar tagline. They were now expanding not only their sound but their minds.
Famed Easy Rider actor Peter Fonda’s comments inspired the lyrics during an LSD trip in August 1965. The striking opening lines, “She said, she said, I know what it’s like to be dead,” were attributed by Lennon after a particular night with acid took place with members of The Beatles and The Byrds.
‘She Said, She Said’ is also a contentious song for the fact it doesn’t feature Paul McCartney at all on the record. Macca allegedly stormed out of the recording sessions after an argument over the arrangement of the tune. But Ringo Starr more than makes up for his departure bringing an understated rhythm to this psychedelic number.
The isolated drum track showcases Ringo Starr’s unique drumming at its best. A sequence of interesting fills that he attributes to his unique style of drumming.
Listen below to the isolated drums in full.