The Beatles’ Ringo Starr Contributed to a Classic Album, but Not as a Drummer

Ringo Starr was indispensable to The Beatles, even if he was often lost in the mix. Starr was one of the only drummers George Harrison depended on, and his steady backbeat helped the Fab Four achieve chart success throughout the 1960s. Ringo wasn’t the drummer when he contributed to a glam rock album that found U.S. chart success.

Ringo Starr (left) and Marc Bolan of T. Rex in 1972. Ringo contributed to T. Rex's best-charting album, but he didn't do it from behind a drum kit.
Ringo Starr (left) and Marc Bolan of T. Rex | Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns

Ringo Starr was almost exclusive a drummer and made limited contributions to The Beatles’ catalog

The other Beatles wrote songs for Ringo, but “Octopus’s Garden” and “Don’t Pass Me By” are his sole songwriting credits with the band. Still, the Fab Four might not have become the juggernaut they did without Ringo’s skill as a drummer, and the other Beatles seemed to know it. They didn’t let many of his songs make the catalog, but they repaid him years later.

George Harrison co-wrote Ringo’s first No. 1 song, “Photograph,” for the 1973 Ringo album. Paul McCartney wrote “Six O’Clock” for the work, and John Lennon contributed a Muhammad Ali-inspired song

Randy Newman co-wrote a song for Ringo, and artists such as Harry Nilsson, Steve Cropper, Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, and Marc Bolan also contributed. Bolan might have been paying back Ringo for his non-drumming contribution to a 1972 album by Bolan’s band, T. Rex.

Ringo made a non-drummer contribution to T. Rex’s album ‘The Slider’

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Ringo was the drummer for one of the biggest bands of all time. Yet his contribution to Marc Bolan’s T. Rex had nothing to do with drums.

Ringo took the cover photograph and provided other sleeve photos for T. Rex’s 1972 album The Slider. T. Rex’s previous release, Electric Warrior, included the signature track “Get It On (Bang a Gong),” but The Slider proved more successful. It produced two No. 1 singles in the U.K., “Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru,” according to AllMusic. The Slider also reached No. 17 on the Billboard album charts, giving the band its best chart position in the U.S.

Ringo provided art for what might be T. Rex’s signature album, but he found various ways to work with other artists once the Beatles broke up.

He was more than a drummer when he worked with other artists

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There’s no getting around the fact that drums and percussion are Ringo’s primary contributions to many projects. Yet he provided the cover photo for T. Rex’s The Slider, and he’s made contributions for many artists away from the drum kit over the years. 

Ringo provided guitars for a pair of 1993 Paul Simon best-ofs as well as Simon’s 2011 Songwriter album, according to AllMusic. He earned guitar and vocal credits performing on albums by Parisian artist Kanda Bongo Man in the 1980s and early 90s.

Ringo contributed to works by Nilsson, Oasis, the Velvet Underground, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Camper Van Beethoven, among others, away from his drum kit.

Ringo Starr built his reputation behind a drum kit, but he made non-drumming contributions for T. Rex and other bands during his post-Beatles career.

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