Ringo Starr shares drumming tips as he accepts honorary degree: “I just hit the buggers”

Starr said receiving the honour was like “some strange fairy tale"

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Ringo Starr was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College Of Music on June 2 and during his acceptance speech, imparted some drumming advice.

The former Beatles drummer was supposed to receive the honour last month but couldn’t make it, sharing a short video message instead. But while on tour with his All Starr Band, Ringo Starr was able to take part in the special ceremony.

“It’s far out, I don’t have a lot to say,” began Starr’s speech after showing off the certificate to the room. “The idea that I’m a doctor blows me away.”


“You know, I just hit them,” he continued, talking about his drumming technique. “That’s all I do. I just hit the buggers. And it seems to be, I hit them in the right place.”

Starr then got behind the drum kit that was on the stage, and showed off a simple beat that he used to show kids he was teaching. “And if they couldn’t do that, I’d politely tell them ‘maybe piano for you’.”

“The other side of that story is that I gave my son Zak (Starkey, drummer for The Who) that lesson. Then a couple of weeks later, I gave him another lesson,” Starr continued, playing a slightly more complex beat. “He said ‘I can do that Dad’ so I said ‘well, you’re on your own’ and he turned out pretty good.”

Starr said receiving the award was like “some strange fairy tale. I started out playing in the factory I worked at and it just so happened my next door neighbour played guitar and my best friend at the factory played bass. We’d play for the men in the basement, those were my first gigs. But life is good. I love the drums,” he continued.

He then went on to say how he received his very first drum while recovering from tuberculosis. “I hit that drum and it was like madness. I just wanted to be a drummer from that moment on. It was my big dream and it’s still unfolding.”


“I’m not going to go on forever,” said Starr, finishing up his speech. “I’m just going to say thank you, and peace and love.”

Ringo Starr And His All Starr Band – which features Toto‘s Steve LukatherMen At Work‘s Colin Hay, Warren Ham, Gregg BissonetteAverage White Band‘s Hamish Stuart and Edgar Winter – kicked off their North American tour at the end of last month and will run until July. They will hit the road again in October.

Originally published on NME

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