Ringo Starr’s birthday was on July 7th – and I missed it! The blessed event occured in Liverpool 1940, making him the oldest Beatle. Happy Birthday, Mr. Starkey!
Here’s a clip of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” taken from their landmark1966 album Revolver. If Ringo needed a resume, this is one of the first things to appear on it. As it is, his reputation proves that his drums speak for him without one.
It has been said by idiots that Ringo is not among the top drawer rock drummers, not even the best in the Beatles! Nonsense, says I, and says anyone with any sense. His performances on “I Feel Fine”, “Rain”, and “The End” are but three great examples of Ringo being the best drummer for the band he was in. Imagine how a John Bonham, a Mitch Mitchell, a Ginger Baker, or a Keith Moon would have crowded out the life of a Lennon/McCartney tune; for all of their skill, they just wouldn’t have done as good a job.
The Beatles met Ringo in Hamburg, while Ringo was drumming with another Liverpool band, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes who played the same club circuit as the nascent Beatles in 1960-61. And as legend has it, Starr was a Beatle before he was in the band, gelling with the others as naturally as a yellow submarine sails the Sea of Green. The writing was famously on the wall for then-current drummer Pete Best by the time the group returned to Liverpool and were serious about going professional.
Later, through recording sessions, American tours, Beatlemania, bad shows in Manilla, and an indefinite hold on touring, Ringo laid down some finely crafted drum parts, along with some of his more famous malpropisms some of which turned into titles for songs John Lennon wrote. “A Hard Day’s Night” was one. Another was this song; “Tomorrow Never Knows”, which John had originally titled the more po-faced “The Void”.
What is striking about this of course is not just that Lennon built the whole thing on tape loops and a droning C chord, but that Ringo came up with a breathtaking drum part, simple, yet totally effective – WHAP! Ba-Dum! (rest) WHAP! Ba-Dum! And with a constant *shhhhhhhhh* of the ride cymbal.
Just listen to it! Magic!
The man was the best drummer in the world for that song alone. To the top drawer of rock drummers you go, sir. And have a happy belated birthday while you’re at it too!