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The Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition includes take 3 of “The End,” which is a very primitive version of the track dominated by Ringo’s drums. As previously discussed, it took some persuasion to get Ringo to do the solo. In the liner notes he says,

George Martin convinced me. As I was playing it, he counted it because we needed a time… and I had to come off at that strange place because it was 13 bars long. Anyway, I did it, and it’s out of the way. I’m pleased now that we’ve got one down.

The sound was the result of having new calfskin drum heads. There’s a lot of tom-tom work on that record. I got the new heads and I naturally used them a lot – they were so great. The magic of real records is that they showed tom-toms were so good. I don’t believe that magic is there now, because there’s so much manipulation.

Although the solo is not all that long, it apparently was taxing for the reticent drummer. At the end of the take you can hear George Martin saying, “How are you feeling, Ringo? Hard work, isn’t it?”

Wikpedia says that Ringo “copied part of Ron Bushy’s drumming on the Iron Butterfly track ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.’ ” I suspect that this may be Ron Bushy messing around on Wikipedia, but who knows, maybe it is so.

In any case, this was one of Ringo’s shining moments. To this day he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, so let me say it plain and clear: Ringo was great. He was a flawless timekeeper, he had taste, and he showed up on schedule. How many drummers can say the same?

I’m using the past tense there because I’m talking about The Beatles. Ringo is still with us, of course; his most recent album came out in October, and he will be touring in the spring with the latest iteration of his All-Starr Band. He looks hale and fit and may be around for many years to come.

So who will be the last Beatle standing? Ringo and Paul both lead healthy lifestyles, and though Ringo is a few years older, I wouldn’t bet against him. We shall find out soon enough, but hopefully not too soon.

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