100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

From rock thunder machines to punk powerhouses, we count down the kings and queens of slam

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Ringo Starr
100
Richard Mitchell/Rex14/100

14. Ringo Starr

"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?'" said Paul McCartney, looking back on the Beatles' first time playing with Ringo Starr. "And that was the moment, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles." Though he was often underappreciated during the flamboyant late Sixties that produced Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell, Ringo didn't just ground the greatest band of all time, he helped give their music shape and focus — listen to the ecstatic rolls that open "She Loves You," the crisp buoyancy of "Ticket to Ride," the slippery cymbal work and languid concision of "Rain," or the way he threw cute, memorable "rhythmic hooks" into many more of the Beatles beloved tunes. Personally, his good natured geniality made him the band's most approachable member. "John would go up and down and all that," said Yoko Ono, "but Ringo was always just very gentle. And he really believed in peace and love." As a left-handed drummer playing a right-handed kit, Starr came up with his own unique style of creating crisp exuberant "funny fills," and his steady reliability became an early gold standard for no-nonsense rock players, serving each song with feel, swing and unswerving reliability. "Ringo was the the king of feel," Dave Grohl has said. Says Jim Keltner, "He was the guy that we all tried to play like in the studio."

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