Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Band Member Bullying

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Band Member Bullying

In every band there is one member that gets made fun of the most. I never understood this concept, because when I really like a band I appreciate all the members even though I have a favorite. Ringo Starr was always my favorite Beatle. And to this day I still hear folks of all ages make fun of him, most prevalent comment is that Ringo was a "back up" drummer. Yes, he may not have been the original drummer (See: Pete Best), but he wasn't a "back up" drummer. John and Paul fired Pete and hired Ringo because he was better. Plain and simple. People also like to make fun of the music he wrote, or lack their of. Yes, he may not have been as a prolific song writer as George, John and Paul, but Ringo is still contributed a lot. I appreciate all of the Beatles solo music, they are all unique individuals. I own a few solo albums for each Beatle and I think they each have something different to offer.

Also, Ringo, even though he gets the most shit is NOT "the most unpopular Beatle." It's a well known fact that Ringo Starr was always the one who got the most fan mail. So much so in the early 2000's he made a video asking fans to stop sending him mail. This broke my heart, but it represents how much fan mail this guy actually receives. Ringo may be my favorite, but I see no point in dissing the other guys. Why do fans do this? The thing is, it isn't just fans, even in the original Beatles cartoon Ringo was basically cast as "the village idiot."  Also in the Beatles mockumentary "The Rutles" Ringo aka "Barry Womb" was a fat dumb country boy.

It is also not as if every Beatle gets a little picking on, many fans act as if John Lennon is totally off limits. Maybe this is because he's dead, or maybe because of his social impact. People also like the bring up how "simple" Ringo's drumming was early on. I'll admit the Beatles music early on was pretty basic rock n roll and Ringo's drumming was pretty simple. But that was not the case over time. Check out the Beatles later work, like Revolver and Abbey Road and then tell me it's still "simple."

 Reasons I have heard for "not liking Ringo":
"He's got a long nose. He's sort of homely looking."
"Some people say the ugliest Beatle"
"He contributed significantly less than everyone else in the Beatles"

I'd also like to point out that Ringo is the main character or a character of interest in all of The Beatles movies. In A Hard Days Night he wondered off, in Help! he was stuck with the sacrificial ring, and in Yellow Submarine he went missing. There's a lack of respect for Ringo Starr, and I don't get it.


By John Bryant 
1. Ringo was the first true rock drummer to be seen on TV. All the Rock & Roll drummers featured with Elvis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis were mostly R&B drummers that were making the transition from a swing drumming style of the 40’s and 50’s toward the louder and more “rocking” sound that is associated with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. They were dressed in tuxedos and suits and held the drumsticks in the “traditional” manner of military, orchestra, and jazz drummers. Ringo showed the world that power was needed to put the emphasis on the “rock” in Rock & Roll music, so he gripped both sticks like hammers and proceeded to build a foundation for rock music.

2. Ringo changed the way drummers hold their sticks by making popular the “matched” grip of holding drumsticks. Nearly all drummers in the Western World prior to Ringo held their sticks in what is termed the “traditional” grip, with the left hand stick held like a chopstick. This grip was originally developed by military drummers to accomodate the angle of the drum when strapped over the shoulder. Ringo’s grip changes the odd left hand to match the right hand, so that both sticks are held like a flyswatter. Rock drummers along with marching band and orchestral percussionists now mostly play with a “matched” grip, and drum companies have developed straps and accessories to accomodate them.

3. Ringo started a trend of placing drummers on high risers so that they would be as visible as the other musicians. When Ringo appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, he immediately caught the attention of thousands of “drummers to be” by towering over the other three Beatles. Elvis’s drummer was looking at a collection of backs.

4. These same “wannabe” drummers also noticed that Ringo was playing Ludwig drums and they immediately went out and bought thousands of these drumsets, thus establishing Ludwig as the definitive name in Rock & Roll drums at that time.

5. Ringo changed the sound of recorded drums. About the time of Rubber Soul (released Dec. 6,1965), the sound of the drumset started to become more distinct. Along with help from the engineers at Abbey Road studios, Ringo popularized a new sound for the drums by tuning them lower, deadening the tonal ring with muffling materials, and making them sound “closer” by putting a microphone on each drum.

6. Ringo has nearly perfect tempo. This allowed the Beatles to record a song 50 or 60 times, and then be able to edit together different parts of numerous takes of the same song for the best possible version. Today an electronic metronome is used for the same purpose, but the Beatles had to depend on Ringo to keep the tempo consistant throughout the dozens of takes of the songs that you know and love so well. Had he not had this ability, the Beatles recordings would sound completely different today.

7. Ringo’s “feel” for the beat serves as a standard for pop-rock record producers and drummers alike. It is relaxed, but never dragging. Solid, yet always breathing. And yes, there is a great amount of musical taste in his decisions of what to play and when to play it. In most recording sessions, the drummer’s performance acts as a barometer for the rest of the musicians. The stylistic direction, dynamics, and emotions are filtered through the drummer. He is the catcher to whom the pitcher/songwriter is throwing. If the drumming doesn’t feel good, the performance of any additional musicians is doomed from the start. The Beatles rarely if ever had this problem with Ringo.

8. Ringo hated drum solos, which should win points with quite a few people. He only took one solo while with the Beatles. His eight measure solo appears during “The End” on the “B” side of Abbey Road. Some might say that it is not a great display of technical virtuosity, but they would be at least partially mistaken. You can set an electronic metronome to a perfect 126 beats per minute, then play it along with Ringo’s solo and the two will stay exactly together.

9. Ringo’s ability to play odd time signatures helped to push popular songwriting into uncharted areas. Two examples are “All you Need is Love” in 7/4 time, and “Here Comes the Sun” with repeating 11/8, 4/4, and 7/8 passages in the chorus.

10. Ringo’s proficiency in many different styles such as two beat swing (“When I’m Sixty-Four”), ballads (“Something”), R&B (“Leave My Kitten Alone” and “Taxman”) and country (the Rubber Soul album) helped the Beatles to explore many musical directions with ease. His pre-Beatle experience as a versatile and hard working nightclub musician served him well.

11. The idea that Ringo was a lucky Johnny-on-the-spot-with-a-showbiz-stage-name is wrong. In fact, when Beatle producer George Martin expressed his unhappiness after the first session with original drummer Pete Best, the decision was made by Paul, George, and John to hire who they considered to be the best drummer in Liverpool - Ringo Starr. His personality was a bonus.

12. The rumors that Ringo did not play on many of the Beatle songs because he was not good enough are also false. In fact, he played on every released Beatles recording (not including Anthology 1) that include drums except for the following: “Back In The USSR” and “Dear Prudence”, on which Paul played drums due to Ringo temporarily quitting the band, “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, again featuring Paul on drums because Ringo was off making a movie, and a 1962 release of “Love Me Do” featuring session drummer Andy White.

13. When the Beatles broke up and they were all trying to get away from each other, John Lennon chose Ringo to play drums on his first solo record. As John once said, “If I get a thing going Ringo knows where to go, just like that..” A great songwriter could ask no more of a drummer. Except maybe to smile and bob his head.


I seem to have a thing for the odd man out. Another man I love that gets a lot of guff is Davy Jones. I hear Monkees fans endlessly make fun of his tan, 80's mullet, and horrid spandex outfits. They even have to make short jokes, really? I'll agree with you that most of our favorite rock stars went through an "awkward phase" in the 80's, but you will not hear anyone say one bad thing about Mike Nesmith, for example. Mike, like everybody else, has some awkward photos. I apply the same logic I have with the Beatles to the Monkees; I appreciate them all and don't want to make fun of any of them. But I've always noticed my favorite Monkee seems to get the most made fun of. And I would argue that Davy was by far the most famous and if we're going to label it "popular"; he had more commercial success than the other guys. Definitely not saying Davy is better than the rest, but let's face it, he is the most well known Monkee.

I don't understand why there's always one character in the band that gets the most made fun of, and there's usually also one that is completely off limits. I call it "band member bullying" when a fan picks on one member all the time. Not all fans are like this, but this attitude is more prevalent than you'd guess. I don't get why fans do it, and why it's an accepted thing. You'll see it all over Tumblr and Facebok fan pages. To me any sort of trash talking about a band member isn't very "fan"-like.

For additional reading check out
He Is the Greatest: The Case for Ringo Starr

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Peace and Love, peace and love. -madmig

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