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Ringo Starr’s Weirdest Drumming With The Beatles Came During a Secret Jam Session After George Harrison Quit

By Jason Rossi,


Ringo Starr songs rarely made the cut on Beatles albums (he wrote two Fab Four tunes). His playing almost never received the credit it deserved, either. Ringo’s drumming — subtle and situated perfectly in the song — often made him the most overlooked member of The Beatles, and yet there were very few places in the world where nobody knew Ringo. Though often overlooked for his playing, Ringo’s weirdest drumming happened in the studio when George Harrison briefly quit the band.
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr | Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns

Ringo Starr’s drumming got weird on one Beatles B-side

Former drummer Pete Best lost interest in The Beatles when they went heavily psychedelic on 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour. Maybe he wasn’t listening to the Fab Four a year earlier.

Revolver was a watershed moment for the band as it moved away from the saccharine pop of their early days. The non-album B-side “Rain” was a big step into the Fab Four’s psychedelic period.

The song features backmasked vocals; John Lennon bragged The Beatles were the first to use that psychedelic recording trick on record. Ringo’s drumming is impossible to overlook. He throws in a kitchen sink’s worth of beats and fills on the “Paperback Writer” flip-side.

The drummer called “Rain” an outlier Beatles song because of his busy playing, but Ringo’s drumming went truly weird on an unheard jam session when George left the group in 1969.

Ringo was ‘playing some weird drumming’ during a wild jam session when George Harrison left The Beatles

After years of having his creative ambitions stifled by John and Paul McCartney, George finally broke and left The Beatles after a heated studio session in early 1969. The remaining three of the Fab Four continued with the session while George went into a shell at home.

That’s when things got strange, according to Ringo.

Without George but with Yoko Ono beside John in the studio, the remaining three started a wild jam session. Ringo’s drumming might have been the weirdest ever with the band (per You Never Give Me Your Money author Peter Doggett):

“[We] started jamming violently. And Yoko jumped in, of course, she was there, [and I] was playing some weird drumming that I hadn’t done before.”

Ringo Starr

Doggett writes that the George-less jam session saw Yoko unleash some banshee wail screams, Paul rub his bass along his amplifier, and John perform a feedback solo in George’s place. “Rain” was a weird track because of Ringo’s busy drumming. He said he got truly weird three years later during an impromptu jam session that happened when George (temporarily) quit The Beatles.

The Fab Four tapped into their unique chemistry to find worldwide success

We’ll most likely never hear the jam session that contained the weirdest Ringo drumming. George’s exit was brief, and it happened under unique circumstances. Just like The Beatles’ success.

Paul once told Howard Stern (via YouTube) that continuing as The Beatles without John in the early 1970s was next to impossible. Macca said the emotional pain of the breakup was too raw. During the same interview, he acknowledged how much George had progressed as a songwriter by the end of the Fab Four.

John once claimed he and Paul could have been The Beatles without Ringo’s drumming and George’s guitar talents. Still, he hedged his words by saying Ringo had a certain star quality and that George blossomed into a talented songwriter. Would the Fab Four have been the same if they kept Best and Stuart Sutcliffe? The world will never know, but you could make a case for Ringo’s drumming talent and George’s later contributions for making The Beatles what they were.

We know that the tumultuous final year of The Beatles saw George walk out on the band, the remaining three play an impromptu jam, and Ringo Starr do some weird drumming on that track.

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