When the Beatles broke up and all the members were trying to establish their separate identities, John asked Ringo to play drums on his first solo record. When post-Beatles John f'ing Lennon asks you to play on his songs? You're a kickass musician.
As John once said, "If I get a thing going Ringo knows where to go, just like that."
He knew how to hang back and support every one of the wild variety of songs Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison threw at him.
“Define ‘best drummer in the world’,” Dave Grohl said in a tribute video for Starr’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame presentation. “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.”
But many music fans continue to argue he's overrated. Can you seriously compare him with legends like John Bonham, Keith Moon, or Clyde Stubblefield?
"As a drummer, Ringo was often barely sufficient. His beats are tepid, characterless and uncreative. When the tune’s slow, Ringo plays like Levon Helm on downers, struggling to fill the space. When the Beatles take it up-tempo, you can almost hear Ringo holding them back." —Scott Kenemore
Others say just listen to "Tomorrow Never Knows." Ringo's drumming here changed the musical landscape.
What exactly was Ringo eating in April 1966? When the drum outtakes from this session came out on the second volume of Anthology in 1996, a drug-crazed friend from London told me, “Ringo invented acid house!” And maybe he did.—Rob Sheffield