Arts & Entertainment, Music

Have You Heard This? Ringo’s Early Days

Ringo Starr

Lesson time 05:12 min

Listening to a wide variety of music as a youth helped inform Ringo’s sound and direction, as did playing in many different bands. He advises you to listen widely and play as much as possible. You’ll also get his take on rock’s evolution.

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Topics include: Ringo’s Influences · Early Gigs


[DRUMS PLAYING] RINGO STARR: Yeah. [DRUMS PLAYING] My stepdad was the best man in the world. He was loved by every kid in our neighborhood, every dog. He was such a peaceful, great guy. I loved him. He was my dad. My dad left when I was three. He'd have his little record player, and he'd have, you know, Glen Miller and everybody else. And anyway, I'd have my stuff playing. And it's just like one of those great memories. He never said, get that shit off, like fathers have been known to do. He never put what I was playing down. He always said, have you heard this? He loved big bands, and he introduced me to Cozy Cole. And he had this track on a 78. I just loved the depth of the-- it was a lot of tom tom, and I loved that. And as you can tell, today I love to hit the toms. He introduced me to all of that. But I feel today, because of the way I play, that I can't play straight rock. I hit it like straight rock, but it's sort of dit da-dit. It always had like a 2% shuffle. And I think that's because of him, because of all his tracks. Even Little Richard in the early days was swing. (SINGING) Gonna tell Aunt Mary about Uncle John, da-da, da-da, da-da-- always swing. As I got a little older, I started listening to the blues. And I'm listening to country music. I'm listening to rock, just listening to everything, really. Inspiration, it comes from where it comes from. You know, Bo Diddley's got his own pattern-- bom, pa-dum bom, pa-dum bom. It was his name and that drum pattern, because he was the only one who really did it great. So play Bo Diddley. Play like Bo Diddley. Bom, pa-dum, and it was the Bo Diddley beat I loved. Yeah. And, of course, it was on tom tom. It's on the floor tom. Boom, I love the floor tom. You know, music was starting to come in my life in a real way. For some reason, Lightnin' Hopkins, he just got to me. He was the first joy of my blues life. My friend in Liverpool and I, we went down to the American Consulate, because we were going to emigrate to Houston, Texas. Yeah, because that's where he lived. And they gave us a list of factories we could apply to for jobs, and we filled these forms in. And we're 18. And we take these forms back, and they give us more forms. You know, at 18, [SOUND EFFECT] we ripped them up, and we didn't get to Houston. But that's like in life, you know, so many chances of turning it right. It's like that movie "Sliding Doors." [MIMICS CLOSING DOOR] You make a decision. It's that fast. [DRUMS PLAYING] When I got the opportunity to play in the basement of the factory, that was the first gigs I did with Eddie Clayton, whose real name was Eddie Miles, who lived next door, and my friend Roy. And we were in the same factory together. Eddie was one of those players that can just play. Give him a trumpet, he's got you in five minutes. You know, a bit like Paul, he can play anything if he wants. And my frien...

About the Instructor

Music legend Ringo Starr helped create rock ’n’ roll drumming as we know it today. Now the 9-time Grammy Award winner wants to inspire new and seasoned drummers alike. Through demonstrations behind the kit and personal stories from his time in The Beatles, Ringo shares his principles for creative collaboration, finding your unique playing style, and embracing your musical journey with joy.

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Ringo Starr

Legendary drummer Ringo Starr walks you through his approach to creative collaboration, playing with heart, and embracing your musical journey.

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