The musician Ringo Starr called his “all-time favourite blues player”

If you were to ask the average person to order The Beatles members in order of importance, Ringo Starr would almost definitely – albeit unfairly – be placed last place. While Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote the bulk of the band’s songs, and George Harrison contributed some of the Fab Four’s most memorable cuts, Starr was content with his supporting role.

However, that doesn’t take anything away from Starr’s vital contribution to the band. Although the musician’s original compositions weren’t The Beatles’ strongest works, Starr remains an icon in the drumming community, utilising a unique playing style that has inspired generations of musicians since.

For example, Dave Grohl, widely considered one of the greatest drummers of all time, said during a speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Define best drummer in the world? Is it someone that’s technically proficient? Or is it someone that sits in the song with their own feel? Ringo was the king of feel.“

Meanwhile, McCartney previously said: “Look, I love Led Zeppelin, but you watch them playing, and you can see them looking back at John Bonham, like, ‘What the hell are you doing? This is the beat. You could turn your back on Ringo and never have to worry. He both gave you security, and you knew he was going to nail it.”

Starr learnt his trade by playing in bands for several years before joining The Beatles, such as Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, one of Liverpool’s most well-known groups. He was fully immersed in the skiffle craze that dominated the city, a genre that emerged from jazz, country and blues.

Additionally, the drummer has always been a massive blues fanatic, and its influence is evident in his work. Starr once revealed one of his biggest influences to be the pioneering Lightnin’ Hopkins, one of the most influential figures in blues history. Born in 1912, Hopkins played guitar, organ, piano and sang, becoming known for songs such as ‘Back To New Orleans’ and ‘Wake Up This Morning’.

The musician had a distinctive playing style, utilising a fingerstyle technique while tapping the body of his guitar. Starr and Lennon were such big fans that they considered moving to the United States to fully immerse themselves in blues.

Talking to You & I, Starr said: “I also love the blues. Everybody should know by now. When I was 19, I tried to emigrate to Houston, Texas. I wanted to be where Lightnin’ Hopkins was, my all-time favourite blues player. John and I went down to the embassy and filled in all these forms. You know, we were just teenagers then.”

He continued: “We even had a list of factories where we wanted to apply for jobs because I was working in a factory at the time. But then, when we went back to the embassy, we were given more paperwork with more questions. We then turned back into teenagers and just ripped them up. Sod it! That would have been an interesting move if I’d have done that.”

Listen to ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ by Lightnin’ Hopkins below.

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