A few cheers for George and Ringo

My friend Jill did an excellent piece yesterday on John Lennon, so I have been humming tunes of The Beatles all day. Without question, The Beatles owe their amazing success to the collaborative song writing of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Yet, to overlook the contributions of George Harrison and Richard Starkey (aka Ringo Starr) does a disservice to the band.

Harrison was the very young lead guitarist who learned how to play from banjo music. He was three years younger than McCartney and was only seventeen when they played for months on end in Hamburg. Lennon at first thought he was too young,

George Martin, their famous producer was walking the halls after Brian Epstein was unsuccessfully pitching the young band he managed to a Martin colleague. Martin overheard Harrison’s guitar playing on record and popped in the office and decided to take them on.

Harrison would flavor the Lennon and McCartney songs with his picking. He also penned some outstanding songs for the band such as “Something,” “Taxman,” “Here comes the Sun” and “Within you, without you” to name a few. He was accredited for introducing an amalgam of eastern/ western music which is unique to both cultures.

As for Ringo, he did not join the band until 1962 after the band fired their first drummer Pete Best. Starr had been following them even though he was drummer for another band. He liked to wear rings, hence the stage name.

I did not know this until later, but Starr is a left handed drummer who plays on a right handed drum kit. So, his style yielded an interesting sound. He also likes to record in the same room with the others to see and feel how they are playing. Starr collaborated with many artists following the band’s break-up, as he was easy to get along with and could play.

While he sang lead on a few songs “Little help from my Friends,” “Yellow Submarine,” and “Octopus’ Garden,” besides his playing, his main contribution was his effervescent fun loving spirit. He was the beloved jester in a band full of cut-ups.

One final thought comes from the excellent Ron Howard documentary “Eight Days a Week,” which highlights their touring period. Starr said he could not hear his band mates in the big arenas, as the sound systems were not ready for the challenge at that time. So, he watched their body language to keep in time with them. Now, that is professional.

33 thoughts on “A few cheers for George and Ringo

  1. Love your follow up, Keith! I learned some things, particularly about Ringo! And I will let you know tomorrow if I wake up humming “We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine …” πŸ˜‰

    • Jill, now you handed the ear worm back. I think I will think of “Here comes the Sun,” to drown it out. Thanks for stopping by and the initial inspiration. Keith

      • Indeed it is much nicer when the sun shines! Yes, Saturday we had plenty of snow, but it didn’t stick much. The road crews, however, seemed to have forgotten where the salt pile was, and we were out sliding around with the rest of the idiots πŸ˜‰ But then … then came the really fun part! We were shopping, and as usual, I got tired, so I said I would go warm up the car and let the girls finish their shopping. I started the car, got out to scrape the ice off the back window, and when I shut the car door, all the doors locked. With the keys inside and the car running. The ONLY keys. Two hours and one locksmith bill of $100 later, we got home. I can laugh about it now, but I wasn’t laughing much Saturday evening. πŸ˜€

      • Oh Jill, I feel for you. Plus, paying $100 rubs salt in the wound. I did this two summers ago at my mother’s house as my wife and I were headed to the beach. $160 and no beach trip later and I was kicking myself. Keith

      • Jill, good move on the extra key. I hated missing an outing to the beach, but it pained me to spend $160 on my mistake. Keith

      • Jill, you are right. We were in the middle of a rough time with my mother and sister, so a walk on the beach near my mother’s home would have been so fine. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: I did not complete Starr’s quote about recording in the same room with others. He said he wants to be close enough to see the other musicians sweat. As for Harrison, he brought so many artists together for his Bangladesh concert ranging from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan to Leon Russell to Ringo Starr. If you have never heard this live album, check it out – hearing Leon Russell do a mix of “Youngblood” and “Jumping Jack Flash” is worth it by itself.

  3. Hey Keith, thanks for your interesting Beatles post, I thought I knew a lot about the Fab Four, I know Paul is left-handed, but I didn’t know Ringo was too. Here Comes the Sun is one of my favourites and so are the songs sung by Ringo.

  4. We recently watched a terrific show on our local PBS station (I think during a pledge drive) called “Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution.” The show, hosted by British composer Howard Goodall, was a fascinating look at the creation, and ongoing influence, of the groundbreaking album – and the Beatles in general. I really encourage anyone who is interested in the Beatles and the making of music to seek the show out and watch it.

    • Janis, I saw that as well. It was fascinating. The part about the “chaos music” to chain the two songs together in “A Day in the Life,” was quite interesting. Keith

  5. Wow. I miss this period of time. We thought, at the time, that it was a pivotal period, fraught with angst and much needed change. The world would be a better place. Ach. Look at what it has evolved into.

    • Linda, good things did happen, but we cannot let them go by the boards. Trump going to speak at a Civil Rights Museum is plain offensive given his stances and comments. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: My sister and I were listening to a radio comment about when artists forget the words or tune to their songs – I will call them brain farts. They referenced Paul McCartney, as one example. I remember when Ringo joined George Harrison on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh to sing his hit song “It Don’t Come Easy.” You end up pulling for Ringo as he obviously forgets a couple of lines, but recovers to finish the song. I remember Bruce Springsteen doing that when everyone had left the stage for a break, but he also recovered.

    I have done this a couple of times in speeches. It is frightening.

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