There’s a stigma surrounding Ringo Starr as the least influential Beatle, the forgotten middle child of the clan that never received proper attention. The poor drummer copped a lot of flak from the word go… but Starr was this week honoured in a way he should have been decades ago.
Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week, putting his name alongside musical icons like Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton. Originally inducted as a member of The Beatles in 1988, the 74-year-old marks the last of the Fab Four to be honoured as a solo artist.
Fittingly, it was former bandmate Paul McCartney who awarded Starr with the Award for Musical Excellence. The bassist had nothing but good things to say about his fellow Beatle as he recalled the story of Starr’s first experience with the band, standing in for original drummer Pete Best:
“I remember the moment, standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was like, ‘fuck you. What is this?’ And that was the moment; that was the beginning, really, of The Beatles.”
If The Beatles are to be considered the most influential band of all time (and they are), then Ringo Starr, without question, one of the most influential drummers of all time. He held a mastery of tempo; he revolutionised the way drums are played in Rock & Roll. With his lifted stage on the Ed Sullivan Show, he literally and figuratively elevated the presence of the drummer in a band.
Iconic drummers from Phil Collins to Dave Grohl have paid homage to Starr and the talent that helped change the face of modern music. But perhaps the highest praise came from Yoko Ono, who said to Rolling Stone at the induction ceremony: “no one is probably going to believe it, but he was the most influential Beatle.” To be the considered the most influential member of the world’s most influential band is high praise indeed.
The Award for Musical Excellence “honours musicians, songwriters and producers who have spent their life creating important and memorable music. Their originality, impact and influence have changed the course of music history. These artists have achieved the highest level of distinction that transcends time.”
Starr did indeed transcend time with his contribution to both The Beatles and music in general, and the 74-year-old has finally been awarded with Rock and Roll’s most prestigious award for his efforts. Take note, music cynics everywhere: Ringo Starr has always been more than the narrator on Thomas the Tank Engine. But even that was pretty cool.