Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As I Write This Letter to Ringo...

If you've been putting off writing that fan letter to Ringo Starr, you'd better hurry up, because as of next week, he won't be answering fan mail! He posted a video on his website about this, and if it's postmarked after October 20th, "It's gonna be tossed," Ringo says. Ringo's reasoning is that "I have too much to do." Which sounds like a reasonable excuse, the man's an ex-Beatle, I'm surprised he has time to answer ANY fan mail! In the video Ringo sounds a bit cranky. Well, as cranky as Ringo can sound, anyway. It might have been nice to say, "I appreciate all the stuff people send, but I don't have time for it." But he's also been living under a microscope for about 45 years now, so I understand if he's lost a little patience. And I'm sure people send him all kinds of crazy crap.

Interesting fact, I have read somewhere in my Beatle studies that Ringo actually got more fan mail than the other three Beatles. The reason supposedly was that girls thought they would have more of a chance with Ringo than the others! So it wasn't just a cute scene in "A Hard Day's Night," he really does have mountains of fan mail to respond to! Just like the episode of the Simpsons Ringo guest-starred (sorry) on! Or, maybe people saw the Simpsons episode and really thought he responded to EVERY piece of fan mail that made it's way onto his desk.

I think Bob Spitz contradicts this in his book "The Beatles," and says that Ringo hardly got any fan mail, and had no idea how to respond to it, but I like my story better. (I really did read it somewhere, honestly.) Spitz also portrays Ringo as pretty much a doofus, and doesn't make much of an attempt to really understand him. In one passage, after the Beatles quit touring in 1966, Spitz basically says, "Ringo stayed at home and played with his cameras. He was a simple lad." Okay, I'm not going to make the claim that Ringo is the smartest guy on Earth, but give him a little more credit than that! (Spitz is also pretty dismissive of George Harrison, which is a big no-no in my book. Spitz is kind of like, "There were John and Paul...and then there were these two other guys.") Sure, the Beatles were three absolute geniuses and one normal guy, but that's nothing to knock Ringo about. He's the Everyman Beatle. It's not Ringo's fault he joined a band with three of the greatest songwriters ever! For anyone who knocks Ringo, I would say to them, "And what songs would you have written for the White Album and Abbey Road? How would you have competed for space with Lennon, McCartney and Harrison?" Ringo did a damn fine job.

Ringo was the perfect drummer for the Beatles, both in personality and in drumming ability. He wasn't a virtuoso like John Bonham or Keith Moon, but the Beatles' music didn't call for that. Ringo pushed his own ego aside and did what he thought was the best drum part for each song. He served the songs rather than himself. If you have your doubts, go listen to "Rain." Drummer Steve Smith, (who drummed with Journey for a number of years) said, "One of Ringo's great qualities was that he composed unique, stylistic drum parts for the Beatles songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song." Which is totally true. (Okay, so I got this quote from Ringo's Wikipedia page, it's still a good quote.)

Anyway, peace and love to Ringo, the drummer for the greatest band ever! And I should get going, because I need to get my diorama of an octopus's garden postmarked before October 20th!

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