Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductions: In Praise Of Beatle Ringo

Ringo StarrThere were a great set of artists inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame over the weekend, and I think all of them are deserving of the honor, but the nomination of Ringo Starr is particularly noteworthy for generations of Rock music lovers.

Way back when, the joke used to be that Ringo was the lucky guy who found himself along for the ride in a band with three musical geniuses. How surprised the cynics were when Ringo became the first ex-Beatle to score a number one hit, before going on to record seven top ten hits between 1971 and 1975. How was this possible?

The truth is that only in the years after the Beatles’ breakup did Ringo’s value to the group, as a musician and as a partner, become fully appreciated.

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The First Real Celebrity In The Beatles

Having suffered through tragedy and serious illness as a child, Ringo lifted himself up, on the strength of his engaging personality and his talent as a drummer, to become one of Liverpool’s top entertainers as the drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

It was on the basis of both his personality and his talent that the Beatles chose him to replace Pete Best on drums. Now, nobody could argue that the Beatles wouldn’t have been successful without Ringo. But one could easily make the case that they wouldn’t have been the defining cultural institution they became had he not been in the band.

When Beatlemania first hit, Ringo was often the center of attention. His puppy-dog look, combined with the “exotic” name and fist full of jewelry, drew the attention of many of the early media reports. What’s a Ringo? the bewildered reporters would ask. His laconic dry wit helped set the tone for the band’s public persona.

His Drumming Was Perfectly Suited To The Band

Musically, Ringo’s drumming was a perfect fit for the wide range of sounds and styles the Beatles were discovering. No bombast, no pyrotechnics, just the right accompaniment necessary in support of these incredibly original songs. His unique, relaxed drumming style, hanging just a titch behind the beat, often served to draw the listener into the song more intently.

His rolls and fills between verses were totally unique and original, partly due to the fact he was a left-hander playing right-handed drum kits. He hated drum solos, and how ironic was it that his only real drum solo as a Beatle was at the very end of the last album they ever recorded. Check out his isolated drum tracks from Strawberry Fields Forever and Good Morning, Good Morning (especially the last 60 seconds).

Nobody on the planet ever has or ever will play the drums like that.

He Was The Glue That Kept Them Together

Unlike other fractious units like The Who or the Stones, the Beatles really loved each other like brothers. Obviously, in the last year or so they were together, some of the relationships became strained, two on two. But despite leaving the band for a couple of weeks in 1968, Ringo rose above the jealousies and turf wars that developed within the band.

The lads never had a beef with Ringo, and Ringo always stayed tight with each of them, even after the split, when none of the others were talking to each other.

Paul McCartney was always credited for driving and prodding the band into getting into the studio and recording more. But why did they all agree to do it? People always ask how it is possible that three such brilliant songwriters could have stayed in the same band together making music as long as they did. I’ve always believed it was because of Ringo.

He was in some ways the glue that kept the Beatles staying together as long as they did. And for that alone he deserves the accolades.

Photo credit: By Eva Rinaldi from Sydney, Australia (Ringo Starr and all his band Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2 comments to “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductions: In Praise Of Beatle Ringo”
  1. This may be shallow, but I think his name does him a disservice. It sounds silly (not to mention that it rhymes with dingo).

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