Ringo Starr Once Said He Was ‘No Good’ as a Drummer, and We’re Here to Remind Him He’s Wrong

If a decades-old story can be as old as time, then the tale of Ringo Starr joining The Beatles fits the mold. The Liverpool band with grand ambitions didn’t realize their goals until booting their first drummer and putting Ringo behind the kit. Ringo tried to soften the blow when Paul McCartney acted like a spoiled child, but we’re going to be direct. Ringo once said he was “no good” as a drummer, but he couldn’t be more wrong, and we’re not the only ones with that opinion.

Ringo Starr, who once said he as no good as a drummer (and was later proven wrong), plays with The Beatles on 'Top of the Pops' in 1966.
Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ringo Starr once said he knew he was ‘no good’ as a drummer

Before his former bandmate George Harrison could decline to join his All-Starr Band, Ringo first had to learn an instrument so he could play in a band. Multiple lengthy stints in the hospital, including a nearly two-year bout with tuberculosis, had a silver lining — he discovered his passion for percussion.

Even after hooking up with his pink-suited first band and becoming The Beatles’ missing piece, Ringo still believed he was no good as a drummer.

“I became a drummer because it was the only thing I could do,” he once said, as Michael Seth Starr writes in the Ringo biography With a Little Help. “But whenever I hear another drummer, I know I’m no good. I can only play on the off beat because John [Lennon] can’t keep up on the rhythm guitar. I’m no good on the technical things but I’m good with all the motions, swinging my head, like. That’s because I love to dance, but you can’t do that on drums.”

He wasn’t much of a drum teacher to Dhani Harrison, George’s son, but Ringo was 100% wrong when he said he was no good as a drummer.

Ringo was totally wrong when he said he was no good as a drummer

Ringo’s self-deprecating comments about being no good as a drummer might have been his true feelings. Or maybe it was his way of deflecting any forthcoming praise. Either way, if he won’t admit it, we will — Ringo Starr was dead wrong saying he was no good as a drummer.

Ringo had a self-centered reason for loving the Abbey Road sessions, and you can put on that record and hear some of his finest work. Still, he turned in many notable performances behind the kit well before The Beatles began splintering in the late 1960s.

Ringo added more complex elements to his beats as the Fab Four grew into their sound. He drops in several subtle chorus fills on Rubber Soul’s “Think for Yourself.” Meanwhile, “You Won’t See Me” would be far more boring if not for Ringo’s embellishments on the kit.

“Taxman” has a deceptively simple beat with some impressive bass drum work, and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” another Revolver cut, was years ahead of its time. 

Even a tune such as “Anna” from Please Please Me displays the Ringo flourishes that came later. He quickly closes his high-hat cymbal to mute it during the verses, then provides an appropriately delicate yet noticeable fill leading into the chorus. Ringo lays down something resembling a samba beat on “Ask My Why” from the same album.

We could go on, but the point is Ringo saying he was no good as a drummer was proven wrong many times with his Beatles work. He might not have been as technically proficient as Gene Krupa, but Ringo repeatedly showed he was an exceptional drummer.

Other drummers recognize Ringo as one of the greatest

Related

George Harrison Praised Ringo Starr Before He Even Knew His Name, and George’s Words Were 100% Right

A close listen to dozens of Beatles songs proves how wrong Ringo was to say he was no good as a drummer. His Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction as a solo artist and his spot in a hall of fame the other Beatles will never join are further proof. If that’s not enough, other drummers realize Ringo’s greatness.

Upon his induction, several notable drummers spoke to the RNR HOF (via YouTube) about Ringo’s greatness. 

“The most timeless drummers are the ones that are the most simple,” Questlove said. 

Max Weinberg from the E Street Band noted Ringo needed just four drums to create some of the most iconic beats ever. Meanwhile, Dave Grohl put a crown on Ringo’s legacy.

“Define the best drummer in the world,” Grohl said. “Is it someone that’s technically proficient? Or is it someone that sits in the song with their own feel? Ringo was the king of feel.”

Ringo Starr once said he knew he was no good as a drummer, but he was wrong. Listening to The Beatles and the musicians he influenced proves how wrong Ringo was.

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