Another post in the tradition that began last month, where Issar Tennenbaum, legendary drummer of Rockfour, writes about
this influences. This time, on his second post, Issar writes about the most famous and rich clown in the world – Ringo Starr.
A Drummer that’s always being treated as the lucky bastard, and less as a drummer. Issar – the microphone is yours.
I’m doubted if we ever heard of Ringo Starr if he kept his original name and of his former in the Beatles drummer position, Pete Best, wouldn’t leave the band on the verge of success.
John, Paul and George chose a new drummer during their Hamburg 1962 period. Since then, Ringo also took the clown position of the world’s most famous band.
I learned a lot about Ringo, through the eyes of another rocker-joker – Keith Moon (The Who).
In the Moon biography, written by Tony Fletcher, he describes just how much Moon was inspired by Ringo, in his drums playing (at least until mid-sixties)
and in general, as a persona. Moon didn’t just see Ringo as a drummer who sits in the back, but learned his behavior and was inspired by it.
The fact that in 60’s live shows, they mostly amplified the snare drum, left a lot of place for imagination in creative drummers like Moon and Ringo.
A decade later, Moon joined Ringo (who meanwhile became a Hollywood star thanks to his natural playing skills and his marriage
to actress Barbara Bach), for a wild Hollywood life in mid seventies. Only thanks to the connected, focused, Ringo – they managed to
finish their joint project – Moon’s first and only solo album.
But beyond the crazy lifestyle of most drummers in his heyday, Ringo attracted me thanks to his musicianship (and also because he survived everything and he still creates).
Allegedly it was Ringo that only held the beat to the songs written by others in the band, allegedly the talent ones.
Allegedly, because his talent didn’t provide him with the credit and respect like the rest of the guys in the band, but still, it was Ringo who sang some monumental tunes like Octopus’s Garden, Good Night, Yellow Submarine, With A Little Help, in such a charisma didn’t fall back behind the others. Ringo was a Beatles brand on his own rights, his style and character had contributed a lot to the Beatles’ image and his position in the band was crucial to the shape and brand of the fab four.
In today’s terms and values, Ringo’s style is considered simple. That’s maybe because he’s technically limited, as he was playing
as a left drummer, on a right drum kit. And maybe it’s because of the plain reason, that his style was the common back then, when Ringo first started. When Rocknroll started.
The famous Shuffle beat that Elvis adopted into the rocknroll world in the fifties, was the common beat also in the 60’s rocknroll hits (Help, My Generation).
It was a Light, naive beat, that suited the times but Ringo brought the wild, savage style into it – and invented a style.
So the so-called simplicity of Ringo – was not simple at all. It’s maybe even harder then to play prog, metal or alternative. Because
the drumming style of the old rocknorll, which I call ‘the impassioned naive” – is almost nowhere to be seen, and Ringo was one
of the style’s masters. Beyond the drive, he was creative in the way he matched drum parts to songs without being technically virtuous. Parts, that received for the first time, an equal status in the composition of a band.
Ringo is 70 today. He became a paternal storyteller in the part of the original conductor in Thomas The Tank Engine, still releases humble solo albums and enjoys his elderly grace, such a unique figure.
And a word about the All Starr Band – Ringo has been running this band for couple of years now, and everyone’s a star on that stage – all is equal. One day he heard the Peter Frampton is unemployed, depressed and unsuccessful, and they thought he’ll commit suicide.
Ringo asked him to join the All Starr Band and ever since, Frampton is doing well.
Ringo, you’re a king.