Ringo Starr names his first drumming hero

Ringo Starr

Contrary to popular belief, Ringo Starr, the drummer for The Beatles, is one of the most accomplished musicians to ever pick up a pair of drumsticks. However, he never got obsessed with the instrument. Starr has always been concerned with music as a whole, and he sees drumming as just another component that contributes to something greater than the sum of its parts.

Many drummers of Starr’s stature grew up trying to emulate and replicate their heroes in their bedrooms. However, that was never of interest to Ringo, who has only ever purchased one instrumental record by a drummer, and apart from that single release, there’s never been anything else in a similar mould that successfully caught his attention.

Ringo Starr isn’t interested in hearing drummers alone, which says a lot about his playing style, which was always about enhancing those around him rather than trying to steal the show. While this led to  attempts to discredit his abilities, it is an unselfish trait that helped carve The Beatles’ impeccable legacy.

In 2019, during a Rolling Stone interview with Dave Grohl, Starr reflected on the start of his drumming career as a teenager, recalling: “My first band was in the factory with the guy who lived next door to me: Eddie Clayton, who was just a really cool guitar player. And I’ve wanted to be a drummer since I was 13, and my friend Roy Trafford built a tea-chest bass. A tea chest with a stick and a string — and that’s what skiffle was.”

However, when Grohl pressed Starr about his favourite drummers during this transformative period, the former Beatles member responded bluntly. He revealed that the instrument on records never drew him in.

Ringo explained: “Well, Cosy Cole is the only one I ever mention, but anything Little Richard did—people always think it’s strange. But I never listened just for the drums. I listened to the entire track. I heard another drummer at the time use the hi-hat as a fill in a section! This is the first time I’ve heard it.

Furthermore, in another interview with Rolling Stone in 2020, Starr again referred to Cosy Cole, telling the publication: “The only drum solo I discuss is Cosy Cole’s ‘Topsy’ from all those years ago. That was the only one I liked. But John Bonham did a good job one time.”

Except for ‘The End’, Starr avoided unleashing solos with The Beatles. In The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Paul McCartney stated that Ringo would never perform drum solos. He despised drummers who performed lengthy drum solos. We all did. And when he joined The Beatles, we said, ‘Ah, what about drum solos then? Expecting him to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll have a five-hour one in the middle of your set’. But he said, ‘I hate’ em! We said, “Great!” We love you! So he would never do them.”

Despite his dislike for solos, Starr praised the beauty of Cole’s ‘Topsy’, released in 1958. This  surprisingly became a hit for the drummer despite its uncommercial nature. While Cole did not significantly influence Ringo’s style, Ringo found his performance commendable.

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