Listen to Ringo Starr’s isolated drums on The Beatles song ‘Nowhere Man’

Across his legendary work with The Beatles, Ringo Starr found the perfect balance between flash and function. It’s no surprise that the man who got his nickname from his shiny rings liked a bit of style every now and again, but Starr quickly found that basic beats and hard-driving rhythm were what The Beatles required from him, not complex patterns or drum solos.

Still, Starr could show off when he wanted to. The speed it takes to keep up with songs like ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ and ‘Help!’ is an underrated part of Starr’s rock-solid style. His fills on songs like ‘Rain’ and ‘She Loves You’ are legendary, but he mostly kept them spare and sparse. Starr’s goofy demeanour and lack of interest in songwriting occasionally made him seem like the odd man out of the group, but when it came to musicianship, Starr was unequivocally the best at what he did: play the drums.

Starr began to expand his playing style in the mid-1960s. When The Beatles returned to EMI Studios to record 1965’s Rubber Soul, their interests had collectively grown to include folk, raga, and R&B, among other genres. Few drummers would be able to handle all of these different approaches, but Starr was game to try anything. His down-and-dirty grooves on ‘Drive My Car’ could fit perfectly with the understated brilliance of the ‘In My Life’ drum part. When a full kit wasn’t the main attraction, Starr simply tapped on a matchbox to get the light hits of ‘I’m Looking Through You’.

As his bandmates sought to explore more psychedelic sounds, Starr was right there with them. John Lennon’s ‘Nowhere Man’ paired expansive mind-altering consciousness with a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. While the harmonies between Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison would be the song’s main attraction, Starr’s job was to keep things moving while keeping the experimental aspects of the song tied to a solid rock groove.

In order to get from section to section, Starr provides some light fills to keep things chugging along. His central pattern is remarkably simple, giving the song just enough drive to keep it from feeling too languid. When the time does come for some flashy fills, Starr makes sure that every hit counts. The result might not sound like much, but for drummers, it’s a revelation. The hardest thing to do is to play the same simple pattern over and over, but Starr’s impeccable sense of timing provided the foundation that allowed his bandmates to thrive as songwriters and musicians.

Check out Ringo Starr’s isolated drums from ‘Nowhere Man’ down below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *