Ringo Starr

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Ringo Starr : biography

7 July 1940 –

After his return from the sanatorium in late 1955, Starkey entered the workforce, but lacked motivation and discipline. His initial attempts at gainful employment proved unsuccessful.: his return from the sanatorium in 1955; . In an effort to secure for himself some warm clothes, he briefly held a position with the British Rail, who supplied their employees with suits. They gave him a hat, but no uniform, and unable to pass the physical examination, he was laid off and granted unemployment benefits.: (primary source); : (secondary source). He then found work as a waiter serving drinks on a day boat that travelled from Liverpool to North Wales, but his irrational fear of conscription into military service led him to quit the job, not wanting to give the Royal Navy the false impression that he was suitable for seafaring work.: (primary source); : (secondary source). In mid-1956 Graves secured for Starkey a position as an apprentice machinist at a Liverpool equipment manufacturer. While working at the facility he befriended Roy Trafford, and the two bonded over their shared interest in music. Trafford introduced Starkey to skiffle, and he quickly became a fervent admirer of the genre.

Musicianship

Influences

During his youth, Starr had been a devoted fan of skiffle and blues music, but by the time he joined the Texans in 1958, he had developed a preference for rock and roll. He was also influenced by country artists, including Hank Williams, Buck Owens and Hank Snow, and jazz drummers such as Chico Hamilton and Yusef Lateef, whose compositional style inspired Starr’s fluid and energetic drum fills and grooves.: influenced by country artists (primary source); : influenced by country artists (secondary source); : influenced by country artists (secondary source); : influenced by jazz drummers Chico Hamilton and Yusef Lateef. While reflecting on Buddy Rich, Starr commented: "He does things with one hand that I can’t do with nine, but that’s technique. Everyone I talk to says ‘What about Buddy Rich?’ Well, what about him? Because he doesn’t turn me on." He stated that he "was never really into drummers", but identified Cozy Cole 1958 cover of Benny Goodman "Topsy Part Two" as "the one drum record" he bought.: (primary source); : (secondary source).

Starr’s first musical hero was Gene Autrey, about whom he commented: "I remember getting shivers up my back when he sang, "South of the Border". By the early 1960s he had become an ardent fan of Lee Dorsey. In November 1964, Starr told Melody Maker: "Our music is second-hand versions of negro music … Ninety per cent of the music I like is coloured."

Drumming

While Starr has acknowledged the technical limitations of his drumming for the Beatles, the overall effect of his contribution has received high praise from notable drummers. Starr said, "Whenever I hear another drummer I know I’m no good. I’m no good on the technical things … I’m your basic offbeat drummer with funny fills. The fills were funny because I’m really left-handed playing a right-handed kit. I can’t roll around the drums because of that." Martin’s version was, "Ringo hit good and hard and used the tom-tom well, even though he couldn’t do a roll to save his life", although Martin later added, "He’s got tremendous feel. He always helped us to hit the right tempo for a song, and gave it that support — that rock-solid back-beat — that made the recording of all the Beatles’ songs that much easier." Starr commented: "I’ve always believed that the drummer is not there to interpret the song", comparing his drumming to painting, he stated: "I am the foundation, and then I put a bit of glow here and there … If there’s a gap, I want to be good enough to fill it."

In 1968, Martin praised Starr’s drumming on Sgt. Pepper, calling him "probably … the finest rock drummer in the world today." Lennon said, "Ringo’s a damn good drummer. He always was a good drummer. He’s not technically good, but I think Ringo’s drumming is underrated the same way as Paul’s bass playing is underrated." McCartney sent Starr a postcard on 31 January 1969 (the day after the band’s performance on the roof of Apple Studios), stating: "You are the greatest drummer in the world. Really." Readers of Rolling Stone magazine voted Starr as the fifth-greatest drummer of all time. Drummer Steve Smith commented on Starr’s musical contribution: