I’m warning you with Peace and Love that Ringo Starr's 77 today.
It’s extraordinary to think the most underrated Beatle is pushing eighty, particularly when he’s looked the same for a good decade or so; it seems constantly wearing sunglasses and that closely-cropped beard since the late-1980s has paid off. He’s a man who provokes frustration as, despite once seeming the most amenable Fab, these days he’s very hard to like; it’s as if he felt it necessary to take Lennon’s brashness after he passed away, along with his iconoclastic nature, famously slamming his old home town Liverpool, his fans for requesting signed pictures and often putting Paul in his place.
While I find it hard to warm to modern-day Ringo, there’s one thing I know for certain: the suggestion he wasn’t a good drummer is a myth. His playing is about as distinctive as it gets; it wouldn’t matter what kit he's behind, you’d always know it’s him, yet for some reason he always gets a bad rap. There are countless examples of finally-nuanced playing, from the more the obvious tracks like She Said She Said, Rain or A Day in The Life to the less
mentioned performances on In My Life, Birthday and I Want You (She’s So Heavy). His time-keeping is impeccable (look at all those live performances in the face of the jumbo-jet-engine roar of Beatlemania, when he often couldn’t hear John, Paul and George’s playing, yet never missed a beat) - and anyway, good playing isn’t always about being flash (though he can do that when he wants), it’s about playing what’s right, and Ringo’s always done that.
So, despite finding his persona slightly dickish, I’ll still raise a metaphorical glass: Happy Birthday Ringo; here’s hoping the blisters you had in '68 went down.