John Lennon was once asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world. He jokingly replied
He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles!.
Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met. He was a professional drummer who sang and performed and had Ringo Starr-time and he was in one of the top groups in Britain but especially in Liverpool before we even had a drummer. So Ringo's talent would have come out one way or the other as something or other. I don't know what he would have ended up as, but whatever that spark is in Ringo that we all know but can't put our finger on — whether it is acting, drumming or singing I don't know — there is something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced with or without the Beatles. Ringo is a damn good drummer.
- John Lennon, 1980
Starr is vastly underrated. The drum fills on the song "A Day in the Life" are very complex things. You could take a great drummer today and say, 'I want it like that.' He wouldn't know what to do.
- Phil Colins
Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity. Ringo's popularity brought forth a new paradigm in how the public saw drummers. We started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect. 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.
- Famous session drummer and Journey member, Steve Smith
Beatles historian and author of The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn confirmed that of the four members, Ringo made the fewest mistakes with few than a dozen breakdowns caused by Ringo over a recoding history that encompassed hundreds of songs over 8 years.
Beatles Songs on which Ringo Didn't Play Drums
There were a few instances where Ringo didn't play drums for the group. During the recording session of September 11, 1962 - the band's second - George Martin decided to replace Starr who he felt lacked sufficient studio experience. Session drummer Andy White played drums on The Beatles first single, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" while Starr played tambourine and maracas on the two songs respectively.
During the tense White Album sessions, McCartney sat in on drums for the first two tracks "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence" as a result of Ringo having quite the band for two weeks.
McCartney also played the drums on "The Ballad of John and Yoko" which was recoded on April 14, 1969 because only John and Paul where around at the time.
Starr has mentioned that he had been lucky to be
surrounded by three frustrated drummers who could only drum in one style.
Of course, most famously, drummer Jimmie Nicol replaced Ringo for eight shows during The Beatles 1964 tour after Ringo came down with tonsillitis and was hospitalized on June 3rd with a concert scheduled the next day in Copenhagen, Denmark.