Why Beatles Fans Screaming Drove Ringo Starr Crazy

The Beatles were truly born once they added Ringo Starr behind the kit after he nailed a drum part that proved to Paul McCartney he was the perfect drummer for the band. From there, the band conquered the U.K., then Europe, and finally the United States. The Fab Four played to ecstatic audiences when they still toured, but Ringo revealed what drove him crazy about Beatles’ fans screaming.

Ringo Starr, performing in Germany in 1966, once said Beatles fans screaming drove him crazy, and not just because he couldn't hear himself play.
Ringo Starr | Fiona Adams/Redferns

Ringo used to have to watch his Beatles bandmates for cues to keep time

The Beatles built their fan base by playing live — a lot. They had residencies in Hamburg, Germany, shows across the British Isles, and a few dates in Sweden. Then came what Ringo described as their lucky break playing on The Ed Sullivan Show in the U.S. in 1964. 

After playing Sullivan, the Fab Four started playing arenas and stadiums in North America (and elsewhere). That was good for the bottom line but bad for the band. 

The boisterous crowds made playing live a chore. Ringo once said he had to look at John Lennon’s rear end to keep time because he couldn’t hear what he or anyone else was playing. But there was another reason the incessant screaming from Beatles’ fans drove Ringo crazy.

Beatles’ fans screaming drove Ringo Starr crazy because they couldn’t hear his playing 

RELATED: Paul McCartney Was Nervous About Performing 1 Song on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ but His Performance Didn’t Show It 

Each member of a rock ‘n’ roll band plays a role. 

The guitarist typically supplies the main musical melody. The singer adds a vocal melody and lyrical color. A bassist lays down the low-end melody tied to the rhythm, and the drummer keeps time and ensures everyone else stays on pace to reach the end of the song. In many ways, a drummer has the most important job of all — making sure all the other members play their notes at the right time.

But as Ringo said, he relied on his bandmates’ motions as much as his internal clock to keep time because of the loud audiences. All the screaming Beatles fans drove Ringo crazy for another reason, as he once explained on the Australian Today show (via YouTube):

“I couldn’t do any fills. That was what drove me crazy. I tour now, and everything I do, you can hear. And everything the others do, you can hear. It’s so great now, but we didn’t have all of that in those days. We had to get off the bus, drag your kitchen to the shelter, and set up.”

Why Beatles fans screaming drove Ringo Starr crazy

Between the screaming from increasingly larger crowds in the final years of The Beatles’ touring days and the inferior sound equipment of the day, Ringo couldn’t hear himself play. That meant he played only simple beats. He could do fills that add flair to a song since it might have thrown off his timing. Fans at those later shows got to say they saw The Beatles play live, but they didn’t necessarily get the best of the band, or Ringo. 

The drummer told Today a reason the Fab Four stopped touring was to find out if they were still world-class musicians. They couldn’t know the truth with thousands of fans screaming throughout their concerts. 

The screaming Beatles fans didn’t get to hear Ringo at his best

Ringo might have been as popular as the other Beatles. He may not have been considered as talented as Paul, John, and George Harrison. The reality is that isn’t true at all, and the Beatles’ fans screaming that drove Ringo crazy robbed them of their chance to see an all-time great drummer at the peak of his powers.

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The fans heard Ringo’s talents on full display on songs such as “Rain,” which the drummer called one of The Beatles’ weird tracks. In reality, the B-side to the 1966 “Paperback Writer” single is a tour-de-force performance in which Ringo incorporates several complex elements to his beat throughout the song.

Ringo laid down a beat for the ages on “Tomorrow Never Knows” from the 1966 album Revolver. Abbey Road, The Beatles’ final album as a true foursome, showcases some of Ringo’s impressive drumming skills, particularly on the medley. 

The adulation of fans sure beats the alternative. Still, Beatles fans screaming drove Ringo Starr crazy because it made it impossible to do what he loves best — play live music.

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