Ringo Starr’s Drumming Tip: ‘Just Hit the Buggers’
Ringo Starr offered a modest summary of his career as he accepted an honorary doctorate from the renowned Berklee College of Music.
The Beatles icon gave a short speech along with a quick demonstration of his drumming approach, which can be seen below.
“The idea that I’m a doctor blows me away,” Starr said, before his wife Barbara signalled from the audience that he should remove his mask. “But how great,” he added. “You know, I just him them. That’s all I do — I just hit the buggers, and it seems to be I hit them in the right place!”
He moved to a drum kit set up in his ‘60s layout as he recalled giving lessons in the past. “When I used to teach kids, this is all I asked them to do.” He played a basic four-on-the-floor pattern, continuing: “And if they couldn’t do that, I’d politely hold them by the arm and say, ‘Maybe piano for you!’”
He recalled giving that same lesson to his son, Zak, a member of the Who’s touring lineup since 1996. “A couple of weeks later I thought, ‘I’ll give him another lesson now,’ and lesson two was [a slightly more complex pattern]. And he said, ‘Oh, I can do that, Dad.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re on your own.’ And he turned out pretty good!”
Starr described on his life as “some strange fairy tale,” adding: “I started out… playing in the factory I worked at. […] My first gigs were in the basement of the factory, and the men [in the room] would all [go], ‘Get off!’ But that’s just how it was.”
He also recalled his first encounter with percussion instruments as a 6-year-old during his hospitalisation for a serious illness. “To keep us busy, once a month this woman brought in maracas, tambourines, triangles and little drums, and she gave me a drum. I hit that drum, and it was like madness. […] I just wanted to be a drummer from that moment on. It was my big dream, and, you know, it’s still unfolding. […] It’s just a great life I lead.”
Watch Ringo Starr Accept Doctorate