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How big was Ringo Starr's influence in The Beatles? Or to phrase it differently, how much of an impact did he have on their music?

We all know the impact of John Lennon and Paul McCartney after all the hit songs and groundbreaking songs they wrote. And most Beatles fans probably know about George Harrisons contributions as well (Something, and While my Guitar Gently Weeps to name two great songs).

Ringo was, however, mostly restricted to singing basic rockers (early Beatles), and wrote quite "goofy" songs, such as Octupus's Garden. Nothing bad about that, but it is quite different from the groundbreaking work of Lennon/McCartney, and to some extent, George Harrison.

On the other hand, a quick Google on "ringos influence in the beatles" gives a couple of hits:

The first one, an article from The Spectator, claims that

His rhythms were tight and infectious, shaping and shaped by guitars and voices: never obtrusive, always consistent. His thuds and whacks behind that bass drum helped create magnificence on nearly every track the Beatles recorded.

And:

In the past two decades, nerdy concentration on precisely who wrote what, and which Beatle was most important, has often occluded a more basic truth: the Beatles were great only because of the greatness of four men composing and playing together. Without Starr in the mix, they would have sounded quite different, and probably not as wonderful.

The second one, an interview with Yoko Ono from Rolling Stone in which she claims that:

He was the most influential Beatle

But she doesn't really back it up with anything.

So, how much of an impact did Ringo have on The Beatles sound? Does anybody have any concrete examples?

  • I think this is a very subjective/opinion based question. That said, I think your second quote is key. This was true of many bands, where even the least-of the contributors clearly contributed something that made the band greater than the sum of its parts. – DA. Dec 29 '15 at 5:14
  • @DA.I agree that it is close to being too opinion based. Still, it is a thing I have thought about for a while, and I tried to formulate the question to be as concrete as possible. Hence, the formulation "Does anybody have any concrete example?". For example, a quote from one of the other band members would be a good answer. – Magnilex Dec 30 '15 at 8:04
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Here's another article I found re-evaluating Ringo. The main points I took from it:

  • Ringo's hard-driving style of playing drums was innovative for the times (a fact now obscured because it subsequently became standard for rock). He discarded the habit of holding the left-hand drumstick differently (an affectation left over from marching bands). He also tuned his drums down, muffled them, and miked them, thus creating the modern rock drum sound.

  • He had nearly perfect tempo, which enabled the Beatles to weave together multiple takes of the same song in an era before electronic metronomes.

  • He had an ability to master difficult time signatures, and different musical styles, which allowed the Beatles free rein to experiment musically.

http://web2.airmail.net/gshultz/bryant.html

I've also seen speculation that Ringo was the social glue that kept the Beatles from exploding and going their separate ways much sooner --that he worked hardest to keep the group going. While that may not count as a direct musical contribution, there's no doubt that George, Paul and John brought out the best in each other, musically speaking, even when they weren't directly collaborating.

  • Well found link. It has got some valid points, perhaps you could add a couple of them to your answer? It looks like a web page from 1996, so it might dissapear soon... – Magnilex Dec 28 '15 at 21:14
  • @Magnilex - Good point, I expanded a bit. – Chris Sunami Dec 28 '15 at 21:21
  • That same website has a bunch of lovely quotes about Ringo's drumming from the other Beatles and other drummers: web2.airmail.net/gshultz/drumpage.html – Gaurav Dec 29 '15 at 1:26

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