Re: Ringo Starr
Some quotes from Ringo from various interviews, talking about his drumming:
What makes a great drum part?
RS: The fill is the art of the drummer, that happens in the moment. That’s always been the way with me. I can’t think about it. I don’t play drum parts. I have no idea how it’s gonna turn out. I don’t say, “Oh, 16 bars in I’ll do that.” I have no idea at all what I’m going to do, it just happens.
Your drum work was not only tight but could be very adventurous. The ending of “Strawberry Fields” showcases some wild off-the-wall tribal drumming. Was that work you enjoyed as well?
RS: You know, what you’re talking about just happens. There was no plan for that. I can play basic patterns, and the freedom is the fills. To move it to where you can put it in a different space as a drummer, especially with The Beatles only came at the end, because the songs were so set up that there was two verses, a chorus, a verse, a middle eight and a chorus and something like that. Then at the end we’d all be allowed to blow our tops, which we did. And we still did that under three minutes (laughs).
You truly blossomed as a drummer on Revolver. Did the vast improvement in sound inspire you?
RS: Yeah. Also I think we decided we could finally hear the bass drum on our records. If you listen to the early ones, there’s no sign of the bass drum, just like the snare and cymbals. So the recordings were getting better and you would play differently because you could hear it.
Source: Goldmine May 2008 Interview
O: Over the years, you haven't recieved the same kind of public respect and reverence for your musical skills that, say, Charlie Watts or the late Keith Moon get. Yet other musicians, particularly drummers, hold you in high regard. Does that lack of respect bother you?
R: Not any more. In the early days, that was going around. People heard that I wasn't good in '62 and '64 and kind of kept along with that. But that's okay, because it's not up to them. I have to realize, in the end, that I know I'm a good player. That's what's important, and that other musicians think I'm a good player.
Source: 1989 Interview by Gary Graff
Which drummers turned you on as a kid?
“You know, no drummer really turned me on at the beginning. I was in hospital with TB, and they sent me out of Liverpool to a place called Heswall, where they used to have this big greenhouse for children, so we could breathe and get well, cos there’s not a lot of oxygen in Liverpool. Oh! [Groans and mimes a headline] ‘Ringo says there’s no oxygen in Liverpool.’ Anyway a woman came once a week with instruments for us to play, tambourines, maracas, little snare drums with one stick. She’d put this huge music sheet up, she’d point to the yellow and you’d hit the drum, she’d point to the red and you shook the maraca. It was all pretty primitive but it kept us entertained. I was in there for a year, so they used to make you do things just to keep your spirits up, I suppose. And that’s where I started, in the hospital with this one drum.
“And I decided that next time she came, if I didn’t get a drum I wouldn’t play. That’s where the dream started. Then I would walk around Liverpool, to the music stores, and I would just look at the drums, I was never interested in the other instruments at all. My grandparents who played mandolin and banjo gave me them, and I’d no interest; my grandad bought me a harmonica, I had no interest. We had a piano at home that I used to walk on. But a lot of people sang around that piano, and people would bring instruments to the parties when I was growing up. There’d always be a harmonica player, banjo player, guitar. It was a party town.
“And I just always wanted to drum. I used to make little kits, mainly a snare drum and a tom-tom out of biscuit tins, and then I bought a huge bass drum for 30 bob, I used to whack that. Then I was 18 and my stepfather, he was from Romford, Essex, he went down there for a funeral or something and found this drumkit for me for 12 quid, and brought it back. That’s how it started. A month later I was in a band, cos I had the instrument.”
You were in Rory Storm & The Hurricanes weren’t you?
“I had a couple of bands before Rory. I started with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. I started on brushes and one snare. Then I went to the Dark Town Skiffle Group, which was like this big skiffle group in Liverpool. I auditioned for Rory, the only time I ever auditioned. Got the gig, played with him for a year. Then we got a gig in Butlin’s, went professional and then we went to Germany. We were at one club, The Beatles were at another, we used to go and watch them. I loved the front line. We got to know each other, got back to Liverpool. Their drummer couldn’t make it one day, Brian Epstein said, ‘Could you play?’ Couple of months later they asked me to join, that’s the whole story.”
Is it true the drum riser wasn’t common before you had one in The Beatles?
“No, it wasn’t common before. The reason I had a drum riser, and also the smallest kit of drums, was I was going to make damn sure you could see me. You know what I mean? Cos the drummer was always playing at the back, cymbals hiding him: ‘Who the hell’s on drums?’ It was not gonna happen to me. I just thought, ‘Shit, I’m gonna be out there too.’ So i t was John, Paul, George… AND RINGO! They could all see me.”
Yet you were never a fan of the drum solo?
“I wasn’t into drummers in that way. I was into drummers being part of a band. I’ve seen the most miserable drum solos get a huge round of applause. And I always felt it was a cheap shot, because you could do anything and they’d all applaud. When we were with Rory, playing Butlin’s, we used to do a double bill with this street band The Happy Wanderers, who used to march around London. And I’d always give their drummer my solo! ‘OK mate!’ Bop bop bob-ba-dop bop! Just on his bass drum! I just never liked solos. It’s not what drumming’s about for me. George Martin practically forced me to do that one on the end of Abbey Road, I do that 13-bar thing – bom bom bom bom bobbadobba bom – and that’s as far as I’ll go. The interesting thing is that because it’s the only solo I’ve done, it’s a classic now. Talked about in drum magazines!”
A drum part that’s often admired is A Day In The Life.
“Yeah. It was good, but bigger than that was Rain, earlier on, and later was Bathroom Window and Polythene Pam. I’d got this new kit and I’d actually got calf heads, and the depth was incredible after all that plastic, so there’s a lot of tom-tom stuff going on there.”
Did John and Paul give you drumming directions, or were you able to experiment? —Scott Peterson Minneapolis
No, a song has a certain format. John always wanted two drummers, and I kept pointing out that it was just me. He would say, "Do that," and I [would say], "But they've got two drummers on that song, John." I'm blessed that I did have songwriters who had a specific way, but if I changed it my way, they went along with that too.
How would you describe your drumming style? —Terry Matlen birmingham, Mich.
I was blessed with great timing. The other blessing that makes my drumming individual is that I was born left-handed. But my grandmother turned me into a right-handed person. So, I'm actually ambidextrous. If I throw anything, play cricket or golf, it's done left-handed, but I write and cut with my right hand. I'm a weird, handy guy. That makes my style really personal.
Last edited by BeatlesFan; 04-06-2010 at 12:12 AM.