Ringo Starr often underestimated the contributions he made to The Beatles, but he once understated George Harrison’s impact as well when he said only half the band was creative. Starr said that while it was sometimes disheartening not to be seen as a creative contributor, the entire band didn’t need to fill this role. Despite his words, though, both Starr and Harrison made significant creative contributions to The Beatles.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the primary songwriters for The Beatles
While each member of The Beatles had writing credits, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the majority of the band’s songs. They penned many of the band’s hits together, and McCartney said it was always easy to write with his bandmate.
“Writing with John was a lot easier because you’ve actually got a sounding board,” McCartney told Fresh Air. “You’re sitting across from someone and we normally wrote on two acoustic guitars. So he’d be sitting there, I’d be sitting here and one of us would suggest an opening line. And then the other one would go okay and would make a suggestion for the second line. So you would kind of ping pong.”
Ringo Starr said only two members of the band were creative
Starr and Harrison still had writing credits, but the drummer said he was not that creative.
“I’m not the creative one. I know that,” he said, per The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies. “But people expect I must want to be. They write and say why don’t I try. I did try a couple of years ago to write two little songs, but they were such pinches, without me really realizing it.”
He said this could be disheartening, but he couldn’t expect the entire band to be the creative muscle behind the songs. Starr said half the group was creative, indicating he believed he and Harrison were not.
“It can get you down, not being creative,” he said. “You know people are thinking you’re not the creative one. But out of four people, you wouldn’t expect them all to be creative, would you? Fifty percent is enough. Think of all the groups, good groups, who can’t write anything at all.”
Ringo Starr and George Harrison both made creative contributors to The Beatles
While Lennon and McCartney had — and desired — most of the band’s writing credits, they were not the only contributors. Starr had solo writing credits for “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’s Garden.” Harrison wrote more, including some of the band’s most enduring songs, like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something.”
Lennon and McCartney were leaders in the band, but this did not mean Harrison and Starr had nothing creative to offer. Beyond their songwriting, they both used their instruments to add richness and layers to the songs. Harrison brought new sounds into the band’s albums, and Starr’s method of drumming inspired generations of musicians after him.
By saying that only half the band was creative, Starr greatly underestimated himself and Harrison. The Beatles would not have worked if Lennon and McCartney were the only creative forces in the group.