I have to make a confession. It’s been a long time coming and I will understand those of you who are disappointed in me. Ok, here it goes…up until very recently (as in yesterday) I had absolutely zero respect for Ringo Starr, not as a person but as a drummer. Today I had an epiphany and have come to the realization that Ringo really was a pioneer. He was one of the first drummers who truly served the song and used the drums as an extension of the song’s structure. Ringo also brought the drums to the forefront as an equal member of the group and his left-hand lead fills are still revered by some of instrument’s most respected players. Why didn’t I see this? It’s inexcusable. Perhaps it was due to the comedy aspect of The Beatles whether it was one of their madcap movies or that groovy cartoon that featured the Fab Four. By not taking The Beatles antics seriously how could I respect their goofiest member? I was way wrong.
Today I spent some time listening to bits of The Beatles catalog that featured Ringo’s drumming. This included “Ticket to Ride,” “Get Back,” “Come Together” and “Don’t Pass Me By.” By listening with an open mind my perspective of the man was totally changed. Ringo was (and is) great. Steve Smith knew Ringo was the man. He said “One of Ringo’s great qualities were that he composed unique, stylistic drum parts for The Beatles songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song.” Most amazing is that at the age of 74, he is still out there touring. My pal Daniel Glass is one of the most respected drum historians in the business and he has always carried the Ringo banner. I now see what he was talking about and will spend some time revisiting the one named Richard Starkey. What I once felt was mediocre I have come to see as brilliant. What I once disrespected is now revered.