Ringo Starr’s drumming technique has been mercilessly derided throughout the decades mainly because of a fake quote attributed to John Lennon rather than his ability. It’s one of the biggest myths in music, and even the late John Bonham recognised his talent.
It became a widespread trend to criticise Starr’s technique after Lennon allegedly stated Ringo wasn’t even “the best drummer in The Beatles”. However, the comment was actually made by comedian Jasper Carrott, and this quip has been a nouse around Starr’s reputation for some time despite being an outright falsity.
On the other hand, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham is a universally adored figure in the world of drumming. Nobody can deny that he’s one of the most talented artists to ever step behind a drumkit, and his authoritative words are rightly treated as biblical.
Both Starr and Bonham were close friends in their heyday and would hang around in the same social circle. They’d often party together, and their shared love of drumming galvanised their tight-knit bond. Stylistically, however, the two musicians were cut from a different cloth. However, their disparities didn’t prevent Bonham from appreciating how crucial of a component Starr’s underrated rhythm work was in The Beatles.
“Let’s just say I think the drumming on Abbey Road is really good,” Bonham said, praising Starr. “Some of the rhythm on the album are really far out. The drumming on all the Beatles’ records is great. The actual patterns are just right for what they are doing.”
Intriguingly, however, Starr was less complimentary about Bonham’s technique, which allowed him to play heavily or lightly with the same level of measured precision. Although Ringo does concede that the late drummer was “incredible”, it just wasn’t his preference. “I don’t listen to records for the drums,” he told USA Today. “John Bonham’s incredible solos didn’t knock me out. I don’t feel you need solos. You need to feel emotion in the track. It’s no good calling me if you like modern jazz. I play pop and rock. I support the song. I can hold steady time.”
Ringo has always stayed true to his own techniques when it comes to drumming, and his taste is rigid. His phobia of solos will last until he takes his last breath, and as much as he respects Bonham’s masterful skill, it just doesn’t do anything for him. Contrastingly, Bonham was an aficionado of the instrument who drank up a much broader scope of styles than Ringo, and the late drummer’s versatile technique reflected his wide pallet.