Ringo Starr has suffered at the hands of a cruel and misplaced joke for nearly his entire decade. When John Lennon allegedly responded to a question of whether Starr was the best drummer in the world with “he’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles” the dye was cast.
The reality is that the joke was used on the radio by a comedian and later attributed to Lennon. It was enough to ensure that Ringo Starr was at the butt of jokes when considering the Fab Four’s virtuoso members. Below we’ve got proof that Starr was perhaps the most influential drummer of his time.
In the isolated drum track for The Beatles Abbey Road classic, it is easy to see Starr’s unique styler and how his slinging shoulder led to a whole new approach for rock ‘n’ roll drummers and set the standard for percussionists for decades to come. From the change of stick position (moving most modern drummers from orthodox grip to matched grip—no small feat) to his always powerful percussion, Starr changed a lot of minds along the way.
The drummer was famed for providing beats and fills which were not only foundational, allowing for Paul McCartney, Lennon and George Harrison to do their thing, but subtly experimental. The contribution he made to The Beatles and the influence he had on countless rock drummers to come is undoubted.
Possibly one of the easiest places to see this expert style is on ‘Something’, a track Frank Sinatra called “the greatest love song in the last 50 years”. The song is steeped in Harrison’s love for both Pattie Boyd and for his newfound spirituality, and while the song is beautifully hung on the lyrics and the guitar line, the song is perfected by Starr.
Still, it remains one of the Beatles’ fans ultimate Fab Four favourite songs and we’re given even more room to appreciate the track through Ringo’s expert style as he slides and slithers across the song. Seemingly casual and in control, Ringo’s shoulder-slinging style has always offered the band a swing that other pop acts of the time could match.
Listen to Ringo Starr’s isolated drum track for The Beatles’ classic ‘Something’ below.