Music History

Think that Ringo isn’t a good drummer? Think again.

For reasons that completely baffle me, Ringo Starr has never got the props he deserves for his drumming skill. This shade began when John Lennon quipped “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles.”

Wrong, Johnny. Here’s why Ringo should be revered:

  1. His meter is rock-solid. The man is as accurate as a cesium-powered metronome.
  2. He often plays with a hard-to-duplicate swing.
  3. His playing could be tremendous innovative for its day. See “Rain,” “A Day in the Life” and “Come Together” for just three examples.
  4. He is naturally left-handed but plays a right-handed kit. This resulted in him leading with his left hand on fills, creating some very interesting rhythms.
  5. On his worst day, Ringo was a Beatle and you weren’t.

But don’t take my word for it. Sina, a German drummer, will demonstrate.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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7 thoughts on “Think that Ringo isn’t a good drummer? Think again.

  • This is awesome
    I’ve often thought it was downright cruel when people make fun of him like you said he was a beatle and I’m not

  • As far as it goes, that alleged Lennon quip has been traced not to Lennon, but to a 1981 episode of a BBC comedy program, and a similar line from comedian Jasper Carrott in 1983. The Beatles knew what they had with Ringo, which is why all of them worked with him post-breakup.

    • Exactly. Funny line, but not true.

      There is story that when George, Ringo and Paul joined with Eric Clapton to play on Jackie Lomax’s album, Eric turned to Ringo after a cut and said said, “now I know why your band is so good!”

  • The Beatles were famous for “taking the piss” out of themselves and each other so John was only mocking.

  • John Lennon always tried to be witty. In this case, when he said that “Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles”, he was referring to Pete Best, their original drummer….get it? Not even the “best” drummer in the Beatles. Sheesh people, chill out. We all know that Ringo is an amazing drummer. His abilty to swing while locking in a groove is proof. Have you ever tapped your foot to a Beatles song? Hell yes!
    Ringo is not a solo drummer, his talent shines when playing with others. He makes them sound good. That’s what a drummer should do, IMO…

  • If you want to hear Ringo being a bit flashy try ‘Boys’ from the early days. Get Back also has an unusual rhythm in the verses which creates tension that is then released by the chorus’ more standard beat. Very fine.

  • Drums on “Come Together” were performed by Paul McCartney, as were many other Beatles songs, particularly on the White Album and Abbey Road. Paul would often show Ringo how to play drum parts he had in mind for new songs and sometimes re-record Ringo’s drum tracks after he went home for the day. If that quote about “best drummer in The Beatles” can be attributed to John, he was most likely referring to Paul. That being said, all anyone needs to do is listen to The Beatles play live to know that Ringo is a great drummer.


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