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Ringo Starr never seemed to have trouble making friends. The drummer once said joining The Beatles was like going to school since he didn’t know the other three. Even though the Liverpool musicians knew of each other, Ringo had a steep learning curve when he took over the drum kit. Still, he formed tight bonds with his Fab Four bandmates. Ringo formed fast friendships with other musicians, too, yet he was never safe from a little good-natured harassment from Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, and Ringo seemed to handle it well.

Ringo Starr (left) portrait circa 1975; Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham in 1974
(l-r) Ringo Starr; John Bonham | Bettman; Michael Putland/Getty Images

Ringo Starr formed fast friendships with non-Beatles musicians

Ringo unsurprisingly formed close bonds with his Beatles bandmates after joining the fray. That skill extended beyond the band and came into sharp focus when the Fab Four fractured.

The drummer had an intimate relationship with a drummer who once wanted to replace him in The Beatles. When the band broke up, Ringo harnessed one of his passions to contribute to a T. Rex album, but not as a drummer. He and Harry Nilsson became fast friends.

Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham once said his band’s popularity came from not being like The Beatles. That bit of criticism didn’t stop Ringo and Bonham from forming a friendship or prevent Ringo from enduring some good-natured harassment from Bonham.

Ringo was never safe from Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham’s antics: ‘Day or night he didn’t care’

Ringo forged a robust acting career when The Beatles broke up. (He started acting while the band was together but devoted more time to the screen in the 1970s). One of his early post-Beatles projects was Son of Dracula. The otherwise forgettable film had a lot of musical firepower.

Ringo and Nilsson had starring roles. Bonham, Peter Frampton, Bobby Keyes, Leon Russell, and longtime Beatles compatriot Klaus Voormann appeared in the movie. That was Bonham’s only brush with Hollywood, but he always made a point to visit Ringo’s house when Led Zeppelin visited Los Angeles. And Bonham never missed a chance to harass Ringo when he dropped by.

Ringo was never safe from Bonham when he was poolside, as Michael Seth Starr writes in With a Little Help:

“There was a party every night. John Bonham would always get a bee in his bonnet. Whenever he was in LA, he would drive up to my house, grab me and throw me in the pool. Day or night, he didn’t care.”

Ringo Starr describes John Bonham’s visits to his house

Not many people would take kindly to being thrown into a pool, but Ringo was never like most other people. He knew Bonham would pull some kind of prank when he visited, and it seems like Ringo took it all in stride. That’s just par for the course with him, though.

The way he handled Bonzo’s pranks says it all about Ringo

Joining The Beatles might not have been easy, but Ringo’s easy-going personality made it easier to get in with the group. Ringo always displayed that attitude, which almost says it all about why the drummer always made fast friends.

Ringo’s good-natured frame of mind was present in the Fab Four. The band’s farting caused terrible trouble when they were stuck in vans while touring England in the early days, but the drummer helped them figure out how not to make it an issue. Ringo was always quick with a joke or self-deprecating quip, which helped The Beatles handle their fame differently from Elvis Presley. 

Rocker Todd Rundgren, who played in three iterations of the All-Starr Band, said Ringo was the more approachable Beatle over John Lennon or Paul McCartney because he lacked pretense. The drummer was always comfortable in his skin, even if that skin was soaking wet because John Bonham just threw him in the pool.

The drummer forged friendships long after his Beatles days and solo peak


Paul McCartney Needed Just 5 Words to Sum Up His Musical Relationship With Ringo Starr

Ringo and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh formed a fast friendship when they met for the first time in the 1970s. Their bond has grown stronger over the years. Walsh became Ringo’s brother-in-law in 2008. Years before the wedding ceremony, Walsh was a featured player in the first two All-Starr Bands and a frequent guest in the years that followed.

Ringo and fellow drummer Jim Keltner, another former All-Starr Band member and contributor, have a tight bond. The former Beatles timekeeper often gives shout-outs to his friends on Twitter, including Voormann, Steve Lukather, Richard Marx, Keith Alison, and Gregg Bissonette.

Ringo Starr was never safe from John Bonham’s antics, even at his home. Still, The Beatles drummer’s good-natured attitude over the years all but guarantees he never minded an impromptu dip in the pool from Led Zeppelin’s timekeeper.

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