Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Ringo's Signature Drum Fill

I recently heard a radio interview with Ringo Starr, who was promoting his latest solo album, “Y Not.”  And as much fun as it was to hear one of the Fab Four reminisce in a relaxed and affable manner, I winced upon hearing a recording of Ringo and Joss Stone singing the new track, “Who’s Your Daddy.”  Good gracious me - embarrassingly bad. 

But regardless of what you can say about Ringo’s singing and songwriting prowess, you can’t knock his drumming. 

Or can you?  Certainly, as snot-nosed children, my friends and I did, as if somehow playing drums for the world’s most successful rock band deserved admonishment.   True, the movie “The Caveman” had just been released and warranted some condemnation, but it wasn’t really Ringo’s acting that was the target of our reproach – it was his drumming. 

And what was wrong with it?  Well, it wasn’t over-the-top, flashy and intricate.  In short, we criticized Ringo for not being Neil Peart, John Bonham, Keith Moon or Bill Bruford.

In hindsight, this seems rather silly.  After all, one didn’t need ten toms, seven cymbals and a double kick drum to lay down a solid rhythm track on “I Saw Her Standing There.”  And while Ringo’s virtuosity might pale in comparison to some other drummers, today I appreciate his minimalist playing.   Listen to tracks like “She Said, She Said,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Come Together” and “A Day In A Life,” and I think it can be agreed that Ringo was an innovate drummer and an important contributor to The Beatles’ sound.

But what really sticks with me when I consider Ringo’s drumming is his signature drum fill: two sixteenth notes on the one beat, followed by a sixteenth rest, followed by four or five more sixteenth notes.  Here's how it sounds:

The earliest example of this drum fill that I can find is on “Hey Jude.”  Then, during the recording of the White Album, the man either fell in love with this lick, or he was in a creative rut, for he played it on no fewer than five songs (and multiple times on some of them – check out “Helter Skelter”).  He continued to use the fill for the remaining Beatle albums, especially on Abbey Road.

But it’s a great fill: simple and memorable.  Without further ado, here’s a compilation of Ringo’s Signature Drum Fill.

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