What’s the latest status of the rumor that used to go around that Paul would come in late at night and redo Ringo’s drumming? Of course Paul would deny it and I understand he has. I don’t particularly believe it, but I’ve heard it over the years and I’ve checked Snopes, no article on it. What’s the Straight Dope?
In general, Ringo did the drumming except in a few cases (on a few songs on The White Album when the Beatles were essentially four solo acts, McCartney might have done the drum track while Ringo was backing John).
Despite the myth, Ringo was actually a first-class drummer; he just didn’t like to take the spotlight and saw his job as keeping a steady beat. George Martin was willing to let Ringo drum on their first album despite the fact that he had a sessions drummer standing by, so it’s clear he thought Ringo could drum. The rest of the Beatles also liked Ringo as a drummer.
I would guess that this is a story that has some basis in fact. Paul used to go in the studio and lay down tracks for each instrument, especially around the White Album (I believe he was the only person playing in Why Don’t We Do It in the Road). He also played drums on at least one track, The Ballad of John and Yoko. And, of course, later, he played all the instruments on McCartney and almost all the instruments for Band on the Run. I would guess that these facts, coupled with how easy it is to pick on Ringo*, led to the rumor that Paul was really responsible for all the drumming.
*[sub]Oh pick on your own nose.[/sub]
Paul’s not that good a drummer. It’s known that he played drums on Back in the USSR, for example - Ringo had walked out on the band at that time - and that has a very simple and uninteresting drumbeat. Compare that to some of Ringo’s best work. (I’m a big fan of Strawberry Fields, to name one.) No way is it the same person.
That’s stretching the point. He may simply not have put much effort into it at some points or even been asked to do a simple and steady backbeat rather than anything upfront or fancy. And Ringo wouldn’t have complained about it either way.
Recording an album per se was not how the Beatles worked in the early days. They recorded individual songs that came out as two-sided singles and EPs, and when enough were accumulated, they came out on an album.
Before the Beatles’ first recording session for EMI in 1962, George Martin was skeptical of Ringo’s drumming ability. So “Love Me Do” was recorded twice: with Ringo on the drums, and then with session musician Andy White on the drums and Ringo relegated to the tambourine. The Andy White version became the hit single, and the Ringo version was released much later on the Rarities album.
How do you figure this? They recorded all of Please, Please Me in one day (because that’s all the time they were allowed in the studio). They recorded the second album, With the Beatles, in three days, between touring. The singles they recorded between the albums were always meant to be singles, and they weren’t included on the albums at all, so it wasn’t as though they were waiting for previously released material to accumulate. They were given more time in the studio, obviously, for their 1964 releases, but again, none of the songs released as singles or EPs were ever considered for LP release in the UK. If you’re thinking about how the American albums were put together and released, that had absolutely nothing to do with the Beatles or how/when the songs were recorded and everything to do with how Capitol Records wanted to release and promote the tracks.
This is not correct. George Martin told them that he didn’t like Pete Best. He didn’t care if they toured with Pete, but he didn’t want to record any songs with Pete. The group decided they needed to fire Pete and hire Ringo–somebody who they already knew quite well and respected. Ringo gave 3 day notice to the band he was in (Rory Storm and the Hurricanes) and showed up to the recording session, ready to go. Meanwhile, George Martin had already hired Andy White to play on Love Me Do, and he insisted that he would keep his session drummer that he hired, thank you very much. He didn’t even know if Ringo could play at that point, as he had never heard him. The track with Andy White on drums was released as the single, but the track that Ringo recorded was released on the album Please, Please Me.
Ringo seemed to do just fine in their last public appearance together on the rooftop. I can close my eyes and still see him in his red slicker doing his think on “Get Back.” That’s just it – I see him. His drumming is more than adequate, but it isn’t sensational. And that’s just fab the way it is. What happened behind the scenes worked too. I hope you can get at the truth, whatever it is.
While most of Please Please Me was recorded in February 1963, not all.
Ask Me Why: November 26, 1962 Love Me Do: September 4 & 11, 1962 Please Please Me: November 26, 1962 P.S. I Love You: September 11, 1962
It Won’t Be Long, All My Loving, Till There Was You, Please Mr. Postman, Roll Over Beethoven, You Really Got a Hold on Me, Devil in Her Heart, and Money were recorded in July 1963. The other six tracks were recorded in September 1963.
As for the recording of Love Me Do, what you wrote and what I wrote aren’t that different.
That may or may not be a reflection of how good or bad a drummer Pete Best was.
Back in the Sixties, it was extremely common for producers to replace real band members with session men. It was ESPECIALLY common with drummers.
A perfectly decent young drummer who’s cut his teeth playing in bars and nightclubs probably doesn’t grasp that “less is more” in the studio, and that subtlety and restraint are called for on record. Over time, he may LEARN subtlety and restraint and studio technique, but in the meantime, it’s a lot faster and easier to bring in a Hal Blaine (or Hal’s British equivalent).
Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and Michael Clarke of the Byrds, among others, were regularly replaced by Hal Blaine. NOT because they were terrible drummers, but because it was simpler to bring in a veteran drummer (who’d record the tracks perfectly in one or two takes) than to let a newbie spend days or weeks getting his technique down.
Pete BEST MAY have been a genuinely bad drummer. Or he may have been an adequate drummer who never got a chance to grow in the studio.
I don’t have the book on hand to quote, but I remember Mark Lewisohn addressing this in his “Complete Recording Sessions” book. He mentioned that based on drumming style, recording setup, and the fact that his voice is always present on the outtakes, it’s clearly Ringo drumming on almost every song. And whatever else you may think of his technique, according to Lewisohn takes very rarely broke down because Ringo made a mistake. So: he’s not flashy, but keeps good time, comes up with interesting stuff, and doesn’t screw up. No wonder the other 3 loved him.
I remember reading an interview with Ringo Starr in Rolling Stone a couple of years ago, in which he commented on Paul as a drummer, but I don’t remember exactly what he said. To the best of my recollection, Ringo thought Paul’s drumming was simple and uninteresting.
This rumor gets repeated for a number of bands. Last time I remember hearing it, it referred to Dave Grohl having such an ego, that he recorded over the Foo Fighters’ drummer’s audio tracks late at night.
That does not jibe with Wikipedia and various other accounts - according to them, Andy White was indeed brought in to replace Ringo, a week after Starr had drummed on what became the original single version of Love Me Do (the Andy White version appeared on the album). There does seem to have been some dissatisfaction with the Ringo recording session, although whether it was down to his drumming is not clear.