Fifty years ago this summer a drummer named Richard Starkey became part of The Beatles. June 1st also marks the 45th anniversary of the release of the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, would be the integral cog to The Beatles creative machine, flexible enough a player to flow with George, John and Paul's individual songwriting styles.
"Sgt. Pepper's" is proof of that well-oiled machine, merely five years into their existence.
The Beatles, iconic as they still are, were like any other band. Even though they became pop icons, the reality is they were still only human.
And the most human of all was Ringo.
"Octopus' Garden," The Beatles, live, 2005 by Ringo Starr and the Roundheads
Through every transition, Ringo remained himself, hardly unchanged by the events of the times, floating along it seemed within the dream that was the Fab Four's life.
When John, Paul and George were enamored with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968, Ringo returned home early from the band's sabbatical to India. He didn't feel a need to join in the popular "enlightenment" and longed for home. He seemed to be unconcerned with what was "in fashion."
His songs in The Beatles were simple, yet charming, with real emotions. They often seemed to imply sentimentality for his role. And his vocals evoked this as well. Particularly a track from the "Peppers" album, "With a Little Help from My Friends, " written specifically for him by Lennon and McCartney.
Always first to criticize his drumming capabilities, Ringo still draws high praise from many notable drummers. His influence shifted well-established ideas of drumming, which until the early ‘60s depended highly on elaborate fills, drum rolls and crescendoing solos.
That was everything Ringo was not.
"Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity," said Steve Smith. "Ringo's popularity brought forth a new paradigm in how the public saw drummers. One of Ringo's great qualities was that he composed very unique and stylistic drum parts for the Beatles songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song."
It's sometimes easy to toss Ringo to the side, often a second thought after John, Paul and George. The truth is it was his impeccable beat and ability to empathize with the other members song-writing that held the creative quartet together throughout The Beatles era.
Producer George Martin commented specifically on Ringo's drumming in an interview for the documentary "Show 45 - Sergeant Pepper at the Summit: The very best of a very good year," calling him "probably ... the finest rock drummer in the world today."
"He always helped us to hit the right tempo for a song, and gave it that support — that rock-solid back-beat — that made the recording of all The Beatles' songs that much easier."
As a drummer myself, I have my own admiration for the Ringo-style. It's subtle behind-the-scenes flavor is partly what turned me on to drumming in the first place.
Celebrate 50 years of The Beatles proper this summer, and as for Ringo Starr, make sure you don't pass him by.
"Don't Pass Me By," The Beatles, live, 2005 by Ringo Starr and the Roundheads
For more on the Beatles, visit the official Beatles website, http://www.thebeatles.com/
For more on Ringo Starr, visit his website, http://www.ringostarr.com/
Listen to the the entirety of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on YouTube.com. Click the video below to take you to the site.
Twinkle VanWinkle ponders, creates and discovers cool stuff about music, movies, food, fashion and so forth. Her thoughtful writings and interactives give great advice about healthy food, cooking tips, DIY projects, fashion and more. She'll teach you a thing or two about music as well. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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