What George Martin Really Thought of Ringo's Drumming

Vistalite Black

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An excerpt from ShowbizCheatSheet.com's newest Cheat Sheet: What Beatles Producer George Martin Really Thought of Ringo Starr’s Drumming – and Why Starr ‘Never Totally Forgave’ Him

(FWIW, I don't think any of this bothers Ringo. He's secure in the knowledge that he holds the No. 14 position in Rolling Stone's Greatest Drummers of All Time.)


They practiced in their first session with Starr for three hours. “Please Please Me” and “Love Me Do” were among the songs they’d been working on. Martin was not pleased with Starr’s handiwork.
“Martin, who was hearing Ringo’s drumming for the first time, was not thrilled with his timekeeping abilities on “Love Me Do,” the author said. “‘I didn’t rate Ringo very highly,’ Martin said later, adding the condescending remark, ‘He couldn’t do a roll – and still can’t – though he’s improved a lot since.'”

To be fair to Starr, Martin wasn’t a pop music producer at that time. His experience had been in working with instrumental artists and comedians. He compared The Beatles’ drummer, perhaps unjustly, to jazz drummers like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa who Martin said could “run rings around [Starr].”

Martin decided on the band’s first recording, “Love Me Do,” to hire a session drummer to replace Starr. He would come to regret it.

Why Starr ‘never totally forgave’ Martin
Starr was “devastated,” his biographer noted, “that Martin doubted his ability. He was embarrassed that he was being supplanted on the group’s very first single by a session drummer.”
Ringo said: “I thought, ‘That’s the end. They’re doing a Pete Best on me.’ I was shattered.”

It was only decades later that Martin, who died in 2016 at age 90, learned how he had wounded Starr.

 

dyland

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Funnily enough, the "Love Me Do" single released in England had the take with Ringo drumming on it.
I prefer this version, it's a bit more laid back. There's also the Pete Best version on Anthology which is an interesting listen. While it's not great, I'm glad it's on there because it finally gave Best his payday.
 

NobleCooleyNut

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First impressions are not always the right impressions and this is a perfect example .
 

idrum4fun

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I've heard about this years ago! As for Sir George Martin, I can appreciate his point of view about Ringo during that session. George Martin wasn't really into the Rock-n-Roll scene at the time and preferred more polished studio musicians, such as Andy White. From a strictly professional recording engineer point of view, Ringo was completely unknown to George. I've no doubt that Sir George would eventually understand Ringo's drumming genius. And, yes, it made him lots of $$$$.

-Mark
 

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I've heard about this years ago! As for Sir George Martin, I can appreciate his point of view about Ringo during that session. George Martin wasn't really into the Rock-n-Roll scene at the time and preferred more polished studio musicians, such as Andy White. From a strictly professional recording engineer point of view, Ringo was completely unknown to George. I've no doubt that Sir George would eventually understand Ringo's drumming genius. And, yes, it made him lots of $$$$.

-Mark
Andy White got a total of 5 pounds for his efforts?

 

ThomFloor

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I wonder what Sir Martin thought of the signature parts of Ticket to Ride, nor Tomorrow Never Knows that only Ringo created?
 
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In 1980 and other subsequent years we worked with George Martin and Geoff Emerick.
When I inquired about clinkers or inconsistent drum parts (like Ticket To Ride, where the part changes mid tune), both George and Geoff emphasized the practice of using the "first good enough take, not a perfect take" method of recording. If the track felt great, it was good enough for pop music in those days.
As for Tomorrow Never Knows, they created a "drum loop" which worked well. In discussing that song, the main thing they talked about was the use of Paul's sound effect tape, which they cut into different pieces and reassembled at random, they claim. (It sounds too good to me to be 100% random, and more like a "great story" they always told!).
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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Ringo's drumming made George a very wealthy man , I wonder what he thought about that ?
I understand this is a drums forum and there is a strong bias towards the importance of everything pertaining to drums when assessing success, quality and all that... Let me give you my songwriter's perspective:

Technically, John, Paul and George's stellar songwriting made them all very wealthy.

Ringo's idiosyncratic drumming and happy-go-lucky personnality may have been a big part of their charm and it sure did convinced hordes of teenagers that they could do it too. And don't get me wrong, I love Ringo, but the Beatles, without some of the most perfectly crafted songs in history, wouldn't have been but a blip in history. Would their sound have been different without Ringo? Of course. But songs this good would've made it to #1 no matter what. Put Ringo in a quartet with lesser tallented writers and I'd bet my shirt, no one would remember his name.

And now, I'll duck for cover...
 

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I understand this is a drums forum and there is a strong bias towards the importance of everything pertaining to drums when assessing success, quality and all that... Let me give you my songwriter's perspective:

Technically, John, Paul and George's stellar songwriting made them all very wealthy.

Ringo's idiosyncratic drumming and happy-go-lucky personnality may have been a big part of their charm and it sure did convinced hordes of teenagers that they could do it too. And don't get me wrong, I love Ringo, but the Beatles, without some of the most perfectly crafted songs in history, wouldn't have been but a blip in history. Would their sound have been different without Ringo? Of course. But songs this good would've made it to #1 no matter what. Put Ringo in a quartet with lesser tallented writers and I'd bet my shirt, no one would remember his name.

And now, I'll duck for cover...
First, who knows how much/many of Ringo’s drum parts were actually Ringo’s ideas. I assume most were, but, I can’t help but think Paul and John had ideas about the drum parts they wanted in their songs. In any event, I do think that Ringo’s drumming was an integral, essential, part of the Beatles sound.
 

hsosdrum

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I understand this is a drums forum and there is a strong bias towards the importance of everything pertaining to drums when assessing success, quality and all that... Let me give you my songwriter's perspective:

Technically, John, Paul and George's stellar songwriting made them all very wealthy.

Ringo's idiosyncratic drumming and happy-go-lucky personnality may have been a big part of their charm and it sure did convinced hordes of teenagers that they could do it too. And don't get me wrong, I love Ringo, but the Beatles, without some of the most perfectly crafted songs in history, wouldn't have been but a blip in history. Would their sound have been different without Ringo? Of course. But songs this good would've made it to #1 no matter what. Put Ringo in a quartet with lesser tallented writers and I'd bet my shirt, no one would remember his name.

And now, I'll duck for cover...
The Beatles only became The Beatles after Ringo joined. Without the perfect chemical alchemy created by those four particular personalities the band never would have gone far enough to allow Lennon's, McCartney's and (eventually) Harrison's songwriting abilities to flourish as they eventually did. Plug in a different drummer and the band stalls after "Love Me Do", and none of Lennon/McCartney's great songs ever get written. The whole thing needed all four of them to work.

P.S. I agree with Bun that this whole subject is likely nothing more than click-bait.
 
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I understand this is a drums forum and there is a strong bias towards the importance of everything pertaining to drums when assessing success, quality and all that... Let me give you my songwriter's perspective:

Technically, John, Paul and George's stellar songwriting made them all very wealthy.

Ringo's idiosyncratic drumming and happy-go-lucky personnality may have been a big part of their charm and it sure did convinced hordes of teenagers that they could do it too. And don't get me wrong, I love Ringo, but the Beatles, without some of the most perfectly crafted songs in history, wouldn't have been but a blip in history. Would their sound have been different without Ringo? Of course. But songs this good would've made it to #1 no matter what. Put Ringo in a quartet with lesser tallented writers and I'd bet my shirt, no one would remember his name.

And now, I'll duck for cover...
Your honest opinion.. Can't fault you for that. Having just gotten a subscription to Apple music I just got done with a "deep dive" in the Beatles studio releases, from beginning to end. The rhythm and yes many of Ringo's beats which he created on his own are why the music stands up. "drummer-centric' perspective maybe, but I am a musician as well. I think Ringo was essential. Plus when you figure in his great time, and his idiosyncratic comments ("Hard Day's Night, Eight Days a Week, etc. .. ) his input was part of the magic.
After listening to all that music I put Ringo at the top 5 pop-rock drummers of all time. Consider what was before him when you rate him. There was zero going on in pop before the Beatles and he put the rock into their pop.
 

Vistalite Black

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Your honest opinion.. Can't fault you for that. Having just gotten a subscription to Apple music I just got done with a "deep dive" in the Beatles studio releases, from beginning to end. The rhythm and yes many of Ringo's beats which he created on his own are why the music stands up. "drummer-centric' perspective maybe, but I am a musician as well. I think Ringo was essential. Plus when you figure in his great time, and his idiosyncratic comments ("Hard Day's Night, Eight Days a Week, etc. .. ) his input was part of the magic.
After listening to all that music I put Ringo at the top 5 pop-rock drummers of all time. Consider what was before him when you rate him. There was zero going on in pop before the Beatles and he put the rock into their pop.
So correct!
Best Pop-Rock Drummers of All Time
1. Tre Cool
2. Travis Barker
3. Jody Stevens - Big Star
4. Jimmy Marinos - Romantics
5. Ringo Starr - All-Starr Band
 

6topher

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I understand this is a drums forum and there is a strong bias towards the importance of everything pertaining to drums when assessing success, quality and all that... Let me give you my songwriter's perspective:

Technically, John, Paul and George's stellar songwriting made them all very wealthy.

Ringo's idiosyncratic drumming and happy-go-lucky personnality may have been a big part of their charm and it sure did convinced hordes of teenagers that they could do it too. And don't get me wrong, I love Ringo, but the Beatles, without some of the most perfectly crafted songs in history, wouldn't have been but a blip in history. Would their sound have been different without Ringo? Of course. But songs this good would've made it to #1 no matter what. Put Ringo in a quartet with lesser tallented writers and I'd bet my shirt, no one would remember his name.

And now, I'll duck for cover...
There is no point being made here. It's like you said if Ted Nugent played with Lawrence Welk cat scratch fever would have been a polka. Not interested in pretend alternate realities.
 

Whitten

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Technically, John, Paul and George's stellar songwriting made them all very wealthy.

Ringo's idiosyncratic drumming and happy-go-lucky personnality may have been a big part of their charm and it sure did convinced hordes of teenagers that they could do it too.
It's the whole package though isn't it.
The songs would be different if a session player had played the bass rather than Paul. U2 write great songs, but a huge part of the U2 sound is Edge's guitar style and Larry Mullen's drumming.
You can't separate all the elements out.
Ringo was both Lennon's and McCartney's favourite drummer. The way unique way Ringo contributed to the arrangements.
I think your post is unnecessarily dismissive. 'Charm'?
We're talking about some of the most significant recordings of the 20th Century, not just the material on paper, the actual recordings.
 


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