Ringo Starr: A Few Words In Favor of the Other Surviving Beatle

Both the Rocks Off team in particular and (I guess) Houston in general have had Paul McCartney mania for days. You can feel the anticipation for tonight's show building like the bridge in "I Saw Her Standing There."

But before the show tonight, I wanted to put in a quick word for the other surviving Beatle, Ringo Starr. If George Harrison was the "mystical" Beatle, Ringo was the Zen Beatle, with a laid-back, light-hearted personality that led some people to conclude the drummer might be a little on the dim side.

That's not the case -- Ringo (now 72) appears quite shrewd in this Rolling Stone Q&A from earlier this year, for example -- but his technical ability as a drummer has long been a matter of some sport. "Luckiest so-and-so on Earth," or something like that.

Unfairly so, too. Supposedly the (notoriously sarcastic) John Lennon once said, "Ringo isn't even the best drummer in the Beatles," but then Lennon also asked Ringo to play drums on the first thing he did outside the Fab Four, the Plastic Ono Band album.

I always liked Ringo because he sang Buck Owens' "Act Naturally" on 1965's Help! He actually has a new album out this year, appropriately titled Ringo 2012. His All-Starr Band is still on the road, although it hasn't been to Houston for quite some time (the mid-'90s, maybe?).

But you never know. "As long as I can hold a pair of sticks, I don't have to retire," he told Rolling Stone.

On the Ringo forum at drummerworld.com, a drummer named Bernhard passed along an essay by John Bryant called "13 Reasons to Give Ringo Some Respect."

Bryant is a Dallas drummer himself, who has played with Ray Charles and once sat in on a Wings rehearsal when Paul McCartney's drummer Joe English was ill. Bryant says he became a drummer after seeing Ringo on The Ed Sullivan Show -- like many, many, many others, I imagine -- and judging by his reasons, the former Richard Starkey has five very big points in his favor... at least.

Strength: "Ringo showed the world that power was needed to put the emphasis on the 'rock' in rock and roll music, so he gripped both sticks like hammers and proceeded to build a foundation for rock music."

Timing: "Ringo has nearly perfect tempo. This allowed the Beatles to record a song 50 or 60 times, and then be able to edit together different parts of numerous takes of the same song for the best possible version."

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Innovation, Part 1: "Ringo changed the way drummers hold their sticks by making popular the 'matched' grip of holding drumsticks. Nearly all drummers in the Western World prior to Ringo held their sticks in what is termed the "traditional" grip, with the left hand stick held like a chopstick."

Innovation, Part 2: "Ringo started a trend of placing drummers on high risers so that they would be as visible as the other musicians."

Versatility: "Ringo's ability to play odd time signatures helped to push popular songwriting into uncharted areas. Two examples are 'All you Need is Love' in 7/4 time, and 'Here Comes the Sun' with repeating 11/8, 4/4, and 7/8 passages in the chorus."

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