Who doesn’t like the Beatles?
Well — maybe not Iggy Pop, or Sid Vicious, etc.
But most everyone else does.
Still, when people say they “like” or even “love” the Beatles, they usually mean: John, Paul or George.
Ringo might not be the first one that comes to mind.
But in his own way, he had the hardest job of all.
He wasn’t one of the (technically) great rock drummers, like Keith Moon, Mick Fleetwood, or Charlie Watts, among others. Yet he was called upon to create percussion parts for arguably the most varied music ever written by a pop group. No other drummer was ever called on to do as much for so many years (although perhaps Roger Taylor of “Queen” comes close).
Ringo never “missed a beat.” He did more than provide rhythmic background; he augmented whatever else was being done in a song, regardless of which Beatle had written it. His drumming and cymbal-crashing provided a defining part of the early Beatles’ “Mersey Sound” — later emulated by “The Byrds” (or the studio musicians doing their parts in recordings). But listen to his introductory “fills” in “Come Together,” recorded only 4 or 5 years later. It’s a completely different style of drumming; seemingly almost jazz-influenced. Within the same song, he again varies between the soft background for the verses (“Here come old flat-top…”), augmenting the stronger choruses (“Come together, right now…”), then returning back to the introductory “fills.”
Listen to the brazenness of the opening of “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” followed immediately by “With a Little Help From My Friends.” I understand, of course, that they weren’t recorded consecutively, without interruption. But listen to the different “character” of the drumming in each song. Ringo performed as an equal member of the quartet, adapting himself to whatever the song required.
Was there ever a single a Beatles’ song in which you felt that the drum/percussion wasn’t exactly right for that particular song? Yet, every one was different. You couldn’t talk of a “Ringo-style” of drumming, because he did so many different things.
Not only was Ringo capable of great variety in what he was doing, he never competed with the other members of the group for prominence in the final sound of a song. He always “fit in,” while at the same time making a crucial, essential contribution that was tailored uniquely to each song.
After beginning this piece, I looked Ringo up on “Wickipedia” and was happily surprised to see that Ringo has, in fact, received the acknowledgement he deserves for the quality of his work — albeit largely within the music business.
Still, it’s a mitzvah to say it myself!
And a m’chayeh to listen to his drumming!