Contrary to popular belief, Ringo Starr wasn’t The Beatles’ most prolific songwriter. Three of the 25 songs that George Harrison worked on with the other members of the Fab Four during their 10 year tenure were collaborative. The most of the compositions were ascribed to John Lennon and Paul McCartney as writers. However, “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’ Garden,” two songs, were written by Starr.
But by the late 1950s, the drummer had already gained experience playing in a number of skiffle bands, including Eddie Clayton and the Clayton Squares and the Raving Texans, who supported vocalist Rory Storm. Starr first encountered The Beatles in Hamburg when performing with Storm, and the two got along well. Soon after, the Beatles extended an invitation to him to take over as drummer for Pete Best, amid protests from fans who broke out in riots at The Cavern Club.
Starr didn’t need to worry; it didn’t take long for the public to embrace him. The guitarist starred in the band’s movies, Help! and Yellow Submarine, demonstrating his widespread appeal.
The drummer provided several unusual drum fills and rhythms, albeit he wasn’t as active in the creative process as the other members of the band. These elements were made special by Starr’s left-handed drumming. His inherent humor served as an inspiration for the song titles of some of the band’s most popular songs.
Three songs in all were created using Starr’s mispronunciations or eccentric remarks in mind. Let’s start with “A Hard Day’s Night,” which was both the title of the band’s third album and a comedy movie released in 1964. McCartney asserted “There wouldn’t have been ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ without him. He had this kind of thing where he moved phrases around.”
He remembered that “Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical. They were sort of magic even though he was getting it wrong.” Similarly, Lennon described the phrase as “A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny… just said it.”
Starr served as the inspiration for the song’s title “Eight Days A Week,” which was included on Beatles for Sale. Eight days a week, Starr reportedly “said it as though he were an overworked chauffeur,” according to McCartney, who then tried to emulate his bandmate by adopting a heavier accent. ” Bing! Got it!” When it was released in 1965, the song became the group’s sixth Billboard Hot 100 number one.
Then there’s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” a psychedelic classic that was influenced by John Lennon’s LSD journey. The Beatles introduced musical instruments like the sitar and tambura that were uncommon in Western mainstream music. It also included sounds of a guitar played backwards, the first time a restrained sound was used in a mainstream tune. The song’s lyrics, which were written by Lennon, do not include the title. Instead, Starr, who had spoken the term in a 1964 television appearance, was cited as the source of the phrase.
McCartney stated, “He used to say, “Well, tomorrow never knows.” And he’d say it for real. He meant it. But all that sounds a bit trivial there. That wasn’t all he did. That was just the tip of the iceberg.” He also stated that “On the surface, Ringo was just some drummer. But there was a hell of a lot more to him than that.”