Everybody loves beating on Ringo Starr -- he's got a weird face, they say, and isn't he the one who wrote that song about the submarine? Don't forget too that apocryphal tale of someone asking John Lennon if Ringo was the best drummer in the world, to which he allegedly replied, "He isn't even the best drummer in the Beatles."
There's also the very real quote from longtime
manager producer George Martin:
''[Lennon] was the soul of the Beatles, Harrison was the spirit,'' he said. ''Paul was the heart, and Ringo was the drummer.''
Well, there won't be any Ringo-bashing here, no sir. The 71-year-old former Beatle is still touring, and he's coming to Hard Rock Live tonight at 8. As a primer -- and a lesson for anyone who might think of Ringo as the Meg Griffin of Liverpool -- here are seven pieces of evidence from A Hard Day's Night, the Beatles' 1964 feature film, that show why Richard Starkey is definitely the most badass Beatle.
1. He came up with the name of the movie.
No-brainer here. "A hard day's night" was one of many "Ringoisms" -- things he'd say that made just enough sense to, you know, write songs about and stuff. (For anyone interested: The movie title came first -- the song was after that.)
2. He's the dealer.
Bored on the train ride to their television appearance, the boys want to play some cards. Ringo takes charge when no one else will, giving 'em the old Liverpool shuffle and winning -- even though that rat Lennon is cheating:
3. While the other Beatles goof off, Ringo's smoking cigs and pondering life.
The characters in A Hard Day's Night behave in relatively predictable ways -- John harasses everyone and makes dumb jokes (see: "Coke snorting," above), the managers are permanently exasperated, Paul is doing his "smile and be adorable" thing, Paul's grandfather is being mind-bogglingly creepy, and George is stumbling around muttering things.
Ringo, however, is always the one off to the side, having a smoke or reading a crime novel. He doesn't need the nonsense -- he's a thinking man.
4. He rejects a cougar.
The other Beatles spend the whole film mugging for the ladies -- waving, winking, grabbing, following them about. Ringo doesn't mess around with that silliness. But on the train, a wealthy woman takes notice of the young drummer. Ringo, his head firmly on his shoulders, turns her down.
"She'll only reject me in the end, and I'll be frustrated," he tells George. "I know the psychological pattern. It plays havoc with me drum skins."
He also seems to woo a female reporter at one point -- she asks him if he's a "mod or a rocker," and he responds with the most punk thing a Beatle ever said: "No, I'm a mocker."
5. He's the one who gets invited to the high-end gambling hall.
As the rest of the Beatles rag on Ringo for not getting any fan mail, one of the managers comes in with an overflowing armload for him -- including an invitation to the post Le Cercle gambling hall.
The above photo isn't from A Hard Day's Night, though -- it's from Dr. No, where Le Cercle is the destination of choice of another badass Britisher: James Bond.
6. He ditches the backstage shenanigans for an adventure.
While George is messing around with some weird modeling agency and John and Paul poke at a troupe of dancers, Ringo sneaks out to have a walk around town -- he tosses bricks in the river, plays darts in a café, and spends a few minutes thinking about things in general:
He doesn't care about the antics. He's a musician, and he needs a little time to himself every once in a while. Of course, the time he spends brooding in the streets eventually leads him to...
7. He stirs up enough trouble to get himself arrested.
The fuzz don't take kindly to disguised ruffians harassing street vendors and chucking stuff into the canals -- but that doesn't bother Ringo, who responds to his charges by breaking out of jail and playing the drums on television. When was the last time Neil Peart did that?
In conclusion, yes, Ringo is a popular target. But just because he's not one of the fabled Lennon/McCartney songwriters doesn't mean he's the lame Beatle -- and there's at least one film that proves it.
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