Ringo Starr Shares Drumming Philosophy While Accepting Honorary Degree

Ringo Starr was able to finally don his cap and gown and accept his honorary doctorate from the storied Berklee College of Music at a special ceremony Thursday, where the legendary drummer summed up his musical philosophy: “You know, I just hit them. That’s all I do. I just hit the buggers. And it seems to be, I hit them in the right place.”

Starr was originally supposed to receive his honorary doctorate at Berklee’s official commencement last month, but he was unable to make it and shared a short video message instead. The ceremony yesterday was put together as Starr and his All Starr Band rolled through Boston on their current North American tour.

At the start of his address, Starr thanked Berklee and quipped, “The idea that I’m a doctorate blows me away.” He also hopped behind a drum kit on stage and shared a story from his days teaching drums, recalling how he’d politely tell potential students who couldn’t play a simple beat, “Maybe piano for you.” He then noted his son Zak mastered that beat on his first lesson, and when Zak asked his dad what was next, Starr replied, “You’re on your own!”

Starr went on to say that receiving the doctorate was like “some strange fairy tale” as he thought back to first falling in love with the drums while recovering from tuberculosis as a kid, as well as playing his first gigs at the factory in Liverpool where he also worked.

“I just wanted to be a drummer from that moment on,” Starr said. “It was my big dream, and it’s still unfolding. I get to play with great guys, like the band here. It’s just a great life I lead.”

The drummer then ended with a quintessential Ringo sign-off: “So, I’m not going to go on forever. I’m just going to say thank you, and peace and love!”

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