Ringo’s Drumming Skills, Part 1

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In the wake of the imminent release of the Beatles’ Rock Band and the newly remastered CD’s on September 9th, I’ve been hearing yet again the old adage that Ringo really wasn’t that good of a drummer. There are those who will tell you that his contributions to the Beatles were negligible. As a lifelong drummer myself, I’m here to tell you that Ringo Starr is one of the greatest rock drummers of all time. Don’t believe me?

Imagine  you’re a drummer in the 60s. Most rock and roll drumming is simple, bubblegum stuff. Then somebody—say, John Lennon—starts shaking things up by bringing in songs like She Said, She Said; Strawberry Fields Forever; and A Day In The Life. Songs for which there is simply no precedent in rock history. You then, as the drummer, come up with drum parts that are not just good, but so astonishingly innovative that it’s all but impossible to imagine the songs played any other way!

“Yes, but I can play anything Ringo played,” the detractors will say. To which I reply, “So can I. I can also sit down at my computer and retype Hamlet, but that doesn’t make me Shakespeare.” I mean, who’s the real artist here: the guy who can copy something note for note, or the guy who came up with it in the first place?

So on September 9th when you’re armed with your nice new Beatles remastered CDs, take a listen to this partial sampling of some of my favorite Ringo drumming:

  • Ticket to Ride
  • She Said, She Said
  • Baby You’re a Rich Man
  • Strawberry Fields Forever
  • Come Together
  • Something
  • Tomorrow Never Knows

Like I said, this is just a partial list to get you started. So what Beatles songs would you add to your list of favorite Ringo drum songs?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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  • Elaine Morse says:

    Do you know if any book exists that has all of Ringo’s drum parts? I’m looking for a gift for my husband for Christmas. Thanks.

  • I don’t know of any book that has all of Ringo’s drum parts accurately transcribed, but here are a few you might want to consider:

    Classic Rock Drummers – The Way They Play — This book explores the drumming styles of many great drummers, including Ringo. As a drummer myself, I’ve found this to be one of the best books for “getting inside” Ringo’s drumming style, as well as others like Keith Moon, John Bonham, and Charlie Watts. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Rock-Drummers-They-Play/dp/0879309075/ref=pd_sim_b_4

    The Big Beat: Conversations with Rock’s Great Drummers — This was written by Max Weinberg, drummer for Bruce Springsteen. It’s a book of interviews with a dozen or so of the greats, many of whom non-drummers will never have heard of. But there’s a really nice interview with Ringo in there. No drum parts are transcribed, but if your husband is a rock drummer, he would probably like this book. The link is: http://www.amazon.com/Big-Beat-Conversations-Rocks-Drummers/dp/0823075710/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260647536&sr=1-1

    The Beatles – Complete Scores — This book, is, purportedly, the complete sheet music of the Beatles’ entire recorded output, transcribed from the actual recordings. It’s actually pretty good, particularly the guitar and bass parts. I can tell you the keyboard parts are kind of touch and go (e.g., their transcription for Lady Madonna isn’t even close), and the drum parts aren’t bad. This is probably the closest thing to a book that has all of Ringo’s drum parts. It doesn’t really analyze them the way the first book does (and, again, as a drummer that’s the book I’d be most interested in). On the other hand, if your husband is a musician who really likes the Beatles, it’s not a bad addition to the bookshelf. It is a bit spendy, however. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Beatles-Complete-Scores/dp/0793518326/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260647965&sr=1-1

    Hope this helps!

    Your pal,

  • Nick says:


    The End

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