While some accused Ringo Starr of being a clumsy drummer, many more agreed with George Harrison’s assessment: “Ringo’s the best backbeat in the business.” And while many in the wake of the Beatles’ breakup predicted that Starr would be the one without a solo career, he proved them wrong. Not only has he released several LPs (the first came out before the Beatles disbanded) and hit singles, but he’s also the only Beatle to establish a film-acting career for himself outside of the band’s mid-’60s movies.
Anybody who knows the Beatles’ music intimately knows the tympanic accents and fills as clearly today as when they were recorded: the famous drum roll that launches into “She Loves You”; the shimmering incandescence of his cymbal work on so many of those early hits; the impressionistic free-form of “Rain”; the loping cadence and crispy snare of “Sexy Sadie”; the haunting, almost cinematic drama and rich texture behind “Long, Long”; the building, tour-de-force crescendo that leads up to the “The End” on “Abbey Road.”
“Here’s what I discovered in the very first session that I did with him,” recalls Walsh. “He came in and I said, ‘You want to see a chart on the song?’ And he said, ‘No, give me the lyrics.’ He responds to the singer. A great example of that is when he plays on the Beatles’ ‘Something’ and he does that fill that’s such a musical response it’s almost like a guitar player; there’s notes to it.”