I didn’t want to hijack that thread with a discussion of Ringo, but I’m interested in a thread that discusses him as a drummer.
To me, there are musicians who are “technically” good. But a computer can be a “technically” good musician, but a computer will lack heart and soul and je ne se quois and moxy and balls and on and on. An example is Jack White of The White Stripes. Techncially an excellent musician? No, but I think he’s a great musician. I don’t particularly care for the White Stripes, but I do like some of their stuff and I appreciate his musicianship–what he lacks technically he makes up for in other ways. Maybe my definition of a great musician is off, but I don’t think it’s all about hitting the right notes at the right time.
I have no dog in this race. I’m not a drummer and, in general, I don’t think I can tell one from another.
But a discussion about great drummers that goes on for two pages with just one brief mention of Ringo?
Ringo was the ideal drummer for the Beatles: not flashy or attention-seeking, he can still rise to greatness when called upon, as in “Rain” or “She Said She Said.” And his mere presence ensured the Fabs could never take themselves too seriously.
There have been threads about Ringo here before, with some interesting input from some of the board’s musicos. Here’s one that I found just now but his name shows up in so many threads that I thought I’d just stop here and let you look further if you’d like. It even includes some of John Lennon’s comments from the 1980 Playboy interview conducted shortly before he was killed.
Ringo is my favorite drummer. I am a guitar player and singer, though it’s been years since I played regularly (and always small-time stuff, local bars, etc.).
I hate the Peart types, all that “locomotive,” overplayed bullshit. The fact that you can play something fast doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I love a drummer who lays down tasty fills, appropriate to the song, creative but never overwhelming. I didn’t say that in the other thread, 'cause it felt like threadshitting, but since you asked. Ringo played every song perfectly, or so it seemed after repeated listenings (which amounts to the same thing!).
That was part of the “perfect storm” that was the Beatles: everything served the tune, including the drums. BTW, Ringo was considered one of the best drummers on the Liverpool scene (unlike Pete Best), which was saying something. John and Paul went to pilfer Ringo from his current band (Rory Storm and the Hurricanes), and were greeted at the door by Ringo’s roommate, the lead guitarist, who responded in a mournful tone with something like, “Oh, I know why you’re here.” It was a given that the hottest band on the scene would be replacing the stiff they had as drummer with someone as skillful as Ringo.
Exactly. Ringo wasn’t flashy, which is usually what impressive. He was good at keeping a beat – even an unusual one – and added only what the song required. If you listen carefully, he’s doing some interesting things, but because it’s all in service to the song, it’s usually not obvious.
Drum solo, on Abbey Road. Ringo played about a million drum rolls. Ringo hated drum solos, though he was more than capable. To me, that’s just further testament to the terrific sensibilities he brought to the drums–less is more, and all that.
I saw a show not too long ago (on Bravo, I think) in which Dave Stewart (from the Erurythmics) interviewed Ringo about his time with the Beatles and his drum techniques and so forth. In that interview Ringo said, essentially, “I’m not that good a drummer – I know 4/4 and 3/4 and that’s it.”
My opinion is that he’s a decent enough drummer to be able to keep a beat, but all in all … sorry, he’s a hack. The luckiest man in the history of Rock and Roll. Still, he kept up his end of the stick in the personality department with the Fab Four.
A big part of what makes a great musician is taste. Knowing what to do, and when, to being out the right feel, the right emotion, the right tone for the song where and when it needs it.
Too many people equate technical ability with talent. Technical ability can be taught. Put in enough hours, and you too can learn to do lightning-fast scales or wild hammering drum fills.
But taste and creativity is different.
As an example from the guitar world, take Yngvie Malmsteen, and compare him with Slash. Slash probably couldn’t keep up with him if they were doing some sort of shredding competition. But I know who I’d much rather listen to. And you can go on Youtube and find a dozen amateur guitarists who can display the pyrotechnic flash of Malmsteen, but ones who can compose an original solo that can make tears come to your eyes are not to be found.
Ringo has taste. When he does something different on the drums, he’s doing it for a reason. He may not be able to articulate it, but he can just hear the song and know what he should hit and when to help the essence of the song and make it something greater than it was without his input.
Another example is Miles Davis. Miles Davis is best appreciated by listening to not just the notes he plays, but the spaces between them. He puts rests in his music where you don’t expect them, and they build tension, and then hit just the right note at the right moment to pull it all together. Miles Davis is an acquired taste, and a lot of people who expect a great jazz player to be technically flashy just don’t get him. But there’s a reason why Kind of Blue is one of the best selling jazz albums in history.
Ringo is like that. Go listen to some Beatles’ songs, and really concentrate in just hearing the drums. Try to think about what he’s trying to do, and listen to the fills he uses, and when he uses them. You might gain a whole new appreciation for his simple, effective brilliance.
Ringo was more than merely adequate, and he certainly isn’t the luckiest person in rock and roll history. As stated more articulately above, the man has taste and creativity. Go back and listen to his drum parts. They are entirely unique and his own. Nobody drums like Ringo. His drum parts are melodic and essential to the music–think of a song like “Come Together” with the cascading triplets across the kit of the intro and the groovy, thumping toms of the verse – that’s essential to the song, and that’s quintessential Ringo, oozing simplicity, soul, and taste.