Ringo Starr Once Explained the 1 Thing He Could Never Do as a Drummer

Only a handful of rock drummers are on a first-name basis with most of the world. Ringo Starr is one of them. The timekeeper for the Beatles has some impressive drumming skills and crafted beats that are instantly recognizable. Despite his talents behind the kit, Ringo said there is one thing he could never do as a drummer because of his emotional style.

Ringo Starr drumming during a Beatles concert in Paris in 1964. He possesses immense talent behind the kit, but Ringo said there was one thing he could never do as a drummer because of his emotional style.
Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr | Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Ringo Starr helped give the Beatles a distinct sound

Ringo sat in the background as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison provided the melodies that helped drive the Beatles’ popularity. Still, there’s no doubt the kitman left his mark on the band.

“Come Together” wouldn’t be the same without Ringo’s rolling, tom-heavy beat. He drives the menacing closing moments of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and Ringo 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 “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.”

Despite his immense skills, Ringo once admitted there was one thing he could never do as a drummer.

Ringo could never duplicate his fills as a drummer because of his emotional style, and he had that freedom

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Ringo’s steady drumwork and signature contributions put the beat in the Beatles. He’s been a working musician with the Fab Four and on his own for six decades, but Ringo told Conan O’Brien (via YouTube) the one thing he could never do as a drummer:

“I never worked it out. I could never work a fill out. It comes in the emotion of the song, and so I could never [duplicate] the fill, you know what I mean? We’d put the track down and then, ‘OK, [duplicate] that fill.’ I could never do it because it just came off whenever it came off. It’s an emotional style I have.”

Ringo Starr on what he can’t do as a drummer

Keeping impeccable time and coming up with signature beats was never an issue. But copying fills he created in the moment was never going to happen. As a drummer, Ringo had that flexibility.

A guitarist needs to hit the right notes and play within the confines of a riff (unless they’re soloing). Ringo, as the drummer, could come up with any fill he wanted as long as he landed on the snare in time for the next beat. The self-proclaimed emotional drummer did exactly that during his time with the Beatles.

Is Ringo still friends with Paul McCartney?

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The Beatles weren’t on the best of terms when they broke up. Creative differences and fighting added friction to what was once a well-oiled machine. Still, Ringo remained friendly with his former bandmates after the split.

Paul once threw Ringo out of his house when the drummer tried to deliver a letter from the other three Beatles, but that moment of conflict didn’t sour their relationship. They’ve made time to meet socially and play together over the years. Ringo lent his drumming skills to several of Paul’s solo albums. Paul and Ringo FaceTime each other regularly when they’re not playing together or meeting for dinner.

And Ringo was a drummer George Harrison depended on during his solo career. The two shared a touching final moment when George was ill. Ringo paid a visit to a bedridden George on his way to Boston to see his sick daughter, but not before George delivered some heartbreaking last words to Ringo.

Ringo Starr could never duplicate a fill as a drummer, but he always made time to get by with a little help from his friends.

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