Once Ringo Starr took over the drum kit, The Beatles had the right lineup to take over the world. His impressive drum skills allowed the Fab Four to tackle complex rhythms, such as on “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Come Together,” later in their career. Still, The Beatles had to ditch their first drummer, Pete Best, before bringing Ringo into the fold. Paul McCartney remembered the exact moment and song that proved Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles.
Ringo Starr and The Beatles crossed paths playing in Hamburg, Germany
The Beatles famously played several residencies in Hamburg, Germany, but they weren’t the only band from Liverpool entertaining the Germans.
Before he joined the Fab Four, Ringo drummed for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The band earned a positive reputation in Liverpool and Germany (and had fancy pink suits that helped them score better beds in Hamburg). The two groups knew each other from England, and they played some of the same clubs in Germany in the early 1960s.
Paul McCartney inducted Ringo into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. During his speech, Macca recalled Ringo coming to see the Beatles play in Hamburg. When The Beatles needed a drummer to sit in for Best, they tapped Ringo for the job. Paul recalled the exact moment he knew Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles.
Paul knew Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles when he nailed a tough drum part
Paul vividly recalled the moment he knew Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles. It happened when Ringo sat in for Best and nailed a drum part that left Paul, George Harrison, and John Lennon awestruck. As Macca told the crowd at the RNRHOF induction ceremony (via YouTube):
“One night, our drummer then, Pete Best, wasn’t available, so Ringo sat in. I remember the moment. Pete was great and we had a great time with him, but me, John, and George — God bless ’em — were on the front line singing, which we usually were, and behind us, we had this guy we’d never played with before. And I remember the moment when he started playing, I think it was Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” and most of the drummers couldn’t nail the drum part. It was a little difficult to do, but Ringo nailed it. Ringo nailed it.
“And I remember the moment, just standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was all like ‘F***. What is this?’ And that was the moment. That was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.”Paul McCartney on the moment he knew Ringo Starr was the perfect drummer for The Beatles
Paul is right that the drum part for “What’d I Say” is difficult. The cymbal-heavy rhumba-style beat would pose a challenge to any drummer without skills. Ringo once copped to some things he couldn’t do as a drummer, but if he played “What’d I Say” as well as Paul said, then Macca is right that Ringo instantly proved he was the right to put the beat in The Beatles.
Ringo’s favorite performance with the Fab Four
Paul knew Ringo was the perfect drummer for The Beatles almost immediately. He didn’t play on their first hit record, but Ringo more than proved himself over the years.
“Come Together” wouldn’t be the same without Ringo’s rolling, tom-heavy beat. He puts on a memorable display in the early part of “The End.” Really, all of Abbey Road gives Ringo a chance to shine in a way he hadn’t before. And let’s not forget the beat from Revolver’s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which was so ahead of its time that British electronic duo The Chemical Brothers basically lifted it for their 1997 song “Setting Sun.”
He called it a weird Beatles’ track, but Ringo loved his performance on the B-side “Rain.” It really is a showcase for the drummer. He liberally uses fills, has a short, nearly unnoticeable segment with rapidly open and closed high-hat cymbal ride, and at one point uses nothing but a cymbal tap to keep the time and the guitars strum in between beats.
“Rain” was his high water mark, but Paul McCartney knew Ringo Starr was the perfect drummer for The Beatles almost immediately.
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