As you will have doubtlessly observed, based on posters around the city and articles everywhere, it is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. And I’m sure there are some of you who are thinking “Oh no, not more Beatles, when will this ever end?” to which I can only say “Get over it, they were just the greatest band ever.” And before you go “No they weren’t, it was (insert name of band here)” stop and think for a minute about what you are about to say ———– OK, are we good now?
I get that the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s is a big deal; after all it was a really good Beatles album. Yes, I said really good. I understand that reasonable people may differ on what was the greatest album by the greatest band ever – although the answer to that question is Revolver.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this little rant, although it does make a great segue into what I want to talk about – and what I want to talk about is Ringo. Yes that Ringo, the guy who was the drummer for the Beatles.
Until recently I wasn’t aware that being “a Ringo” was a thing – and not a good thing as it turns out. A cursory search of the Internet – which is the only kind of search that I do – reveals that referring to someone as “The Ringo” of an assemblage is an insult. For example, Jon Jay, was the Ringo of the Founding Fathers of the United States; basketball player Chris Bosh was the Ringo of the Miami Heat (when they were good); Ultron is the Ringo of the Avengers (a comic book reference): and one for the civil lawyers in the crowd – production is the Ringo of the discovery process (and if you don’t get that reference don’t worry about it – worry about poor Ultron instead).
So what is it about Ringo that his name has come to be a synonym for the least talented or the weakest link in a group of people – or comic book hero – or legal process? Frankly, I think this pretty unfair. At the time Ringo joined the Beatles – and they asked him to join them – he was considered the most talented drummer in Liverpool (OK, maybe a bit of big fish small pond thing). Instead of referring to people as “the Ringo” of group, the better analogy would be to the guy that Ringo replaced. The trouble is that the guy he replaced was named Pete Best so you would then be referring to the real least talented person in a group as the Best person in the group which would undoubtedly be very confusing.
So where does this need come from to somehow rank everyone in a group and single out the person who is seen as the least of that group? And how do we even figure out who that person is? Sure, Ringo wasn’t he greatest singer (although who else could have sung Yellow Submarine and made it work?), nor was he a great songwriter (sample lyric “I’m sorry that I doubted you/I was so unfair/You were in a car crash/And you lost your hair” no question that’s not Yesterday or A Day in the Life) but he was an integral part of the greatest group ever (see first paragraph and bite your tongue).
I may be particularly aware of this point because I too am in a musical group – which gives me something in common with Ringo – in my case Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room. Our particular group is made up of 10 people, and while we have soldiered on with nine, or eight, or even seven and still made a joyful noise, it’s not like the absent folks aren’t essential. It’s not that they are irrelevant like our little toe is going to become (and if you aren’t aware of this fact try a cursory search on the Internet – my answer to everything).
Tell you what; why don’t you see for yourself. Come out to the Free Times Cafe (College just west of Spadina) on Sunday, June 18 (yes, Father’s Day, bring him along – and if you’re a father, bring your kids – or not – I don’t really care). We will take the stage, and the space around the stage (there are 10 of us after all) at 8 pm for a wonderful, lively and eclectic three hours of music of all kinds played on a wide variety of instruments and sung at various points, by one or two or all of us. And, to make this an even more enticing offer – for this month only, in honour of Ringo – there will be no cover for people with a ring on their hands or feet or ear or nose or any other part of the body (and we’ll take your word on that).
Hope to see you there.
P.S. And believe me when I tell you that the bagpipes are the Best instrument in our band.