Monday, January 2, 2012

Rock Starr

When people talk of their favorite Beatle, and these conversations take place every day, most say they toss it up between John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  

But I go right for the biggest Starr of them all: Ringo Starr, the lovable happy drummer born Richard Starkey.  All the experts said he was not a great drummer, not a great singer, not a great-looking man:  the same unfair criticisms that poor old Ron Paul has to bear on the campaign trail, except that no one can knock Ron's drumming.  He manages to drum up support, against all reasoning.

But back to Ringo: I always liked the guy.  He never seems to take himself too seriously, which is always nice to see in a multi-millionaire, and he liked American country music and rockabilly well enough to record Buck Owens and Carl Perkins.  In fact, look at this list of Beatle songs:

1. "Boys"  
2. "I Wanna Be Your Man" 
3. "Matchbox" 
4. "Honey Don't" 
5. "Act Naturally"
6. "What Goes On" 
7. "Yellow Submarine" 
8. "With a Little Help From My Friends" 
9. "Don't Pass Me By" and "Good Night"
10. "Octopus' Garden"

and what do they have in common, beside being mainly up-tempo happy kinds of songs?  The lead singer on each is Mr. Starr!

He's the oldest of the Beatles, born in July, 1940 (which makes him 71, for crying out loud!) He played around his native Liverpool in bands such as Rory Storm and the Hurricanes before getting the chance to replace Pete Best with the Beatles in 1962.  No, he wasn't the prolific songwriter that Lennon and McCartney were, or even George Harrison, but Ringo's sense of humor lent a lot to the charm of the Beatles.  It was his turns of phrase, like "It's been a hard day's night" and "Tomorrow never knows" that found their way into songs written by the others, and remember how the "plot" of their first movie "A Hard Day's Night" revolved around getting their wandering drummer back to the studio for a live tv show?  Who better to play the Beatle gone missing?

It's a shame that Ringo is the only Beatle not to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his solo work, but perhaps someday, the people who vote on such things will hear his curious adenoidal voice sing "In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea..." and give him his due.  

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