Thursday 15 September 2022


Ringo Starr is adamant about his number one, and in classic Ringo style, his selection is a rarity.

The Beatles were well and truly in their pomp by 1966 and had become an unstoppable force in the charts, they had started experimenting even further on a creative level, pushing their artistic integrity to the fore. The band kicked it up a notch on the eternally adored album Revolver, and the record remains a high watermark even by their lofty standards. 

The sessions in the studio from the time of the album’s creation would spurn the one recording that Ringo would classify as being the band’s magnum opus. However, the track would never even make it onto the album and, instead, become another classic non-album Beatles tune. ‘Paperback Writer’ was a different gem by The Beatles, which, somehow, didn’t make it onto a full-length album and, instead, was released as a stand-alone release in May 1966. The track would act as the B-Side for Ringo’s favourite Beatles song, the best they ever created, ‘Rain’.

For Ringo, he believes ‘Rain’ captures his drumming at the pinnacle of his capabilities. At the time, The Beatles were going through an experimental patch which allowed each member to move into new territories and play differently from how they had done previously. Starr was overjoyed by his newfound freedom on ‘Rain’ and took great pleasure in being allowed off the leash. 

Although ‘Rain’ was only a B-side, The Beatles did record three promotional films for the track, which was unusual. It was the first time they made videos for a B-side, but they would later do it for ‘Revolution’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. It was clear that The Beatles had entered their psychedelic rock phase by the time they made ‘Rain’. The release marked a sign of things to come for the band ahead of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band the following year, which was trippier than anything they’ve done before.

Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick were also pivotal in Ringo creating such dreamy drums. The pair used pioneering methods and messed around with the speed of the recording, such as the use of reverse tape effects, which, coupled with Starr’s incredible technique, helped make ‘Rain’ a masterclass in drumming.

The track really does showcase the band on their A-game with a bass masterclass from Paul McCartney and a vocal performance of the highest calibre from John Lennon. To keep the experimentation going, the song even featured backwards vocals topped off with a rousing drumming performance from Ringo that creates a beautifully mesmerising result.

In Many Years From Now, the biography of McCartney, Ringo made the revelation to author Barry Miles stating it was his favourite recording of anything he’s played during the entirety of his career: “I feel as though that was someone else playing,” he said. “I was possessed”. It’s a remarkable idea and one which sees Ringo perhaps at his peak, delivering a drum pattern and style that is utterly unique and totally Ringo.

He then went on to detail what exactly he loved about it, explaining: “I was into the snare and hi-hat. I think it was the first time I used this trick of starting a break by hitting the hi-hat first instead of going directly to a drum off the hi-hat,” Ringo said. “I think it’s the best out of all the records I’ve ever made.”

Speaking about writing the song, especially the use of backwards taping, John Lennon said of the track around the time: “After we’d done the session on that particular song — it ended at about four or five in the morning — I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better,” concludes the singer. “So that’s how it happened.”

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