Definitely Charlie; by comparison, Ringo's got no soul.
Dreadhead...I think that you answered your own question. Charlie Watts is a drumming timepiece...spot, dead on and correct me if I am wrong on this, but his background is / was in keeping time in big band jazz. I also thought I read once where Mick and keith went to him on the new songs arrangements and what tiempo the song would take. Ringo Starr is a whole different type of drummer and as important, type of band and music played. Ringo was the right drummer for that band...any other drummer, well who knows what path the Beatles would have taken and ended up on.....yes, he had flair and was a pretty good drummer as well in keeping time.
Baker, Bonham & Moon....again totally different drummers and music played. But, the thread is about Watts and Starr ....not about those guys.
If you haven't heard Charlie as a band leader with his jazz orchestra you haven't heard his true range as a musician. His recording from 2001, "Watts at Scotts" really put a new light on him for me. Like Keith, I think he's often under appreciated because he's not an overt, showy virtuoso. No one is going to put him on the same technical plane as Ginger Baker (truly great,) but he has his own unique strengths.
Charlie Watts by a mile! He's a subtle drummer but he's rock solid. I figured out how good he was when I was in a band in college. We were covering Honkey Tonk Women and our drummer kept on slipping the downbeat into the wrong part of the melody. He could hear where it was supposed to be on the record, but he kept on winding up about a beat off. Of course there was a lot of beer involved....
Ringo seems like a really nice guy who was scrambling to keep up with his peers, and never really succeeded. As most people have noted, Watts was/is noticeably more rock solid. That Watts is far more serious about the art of drumming is reflected in the fact that he's still very active, and stretching out into other arenas. (I'm under the impression, btw, though I could be wrong, that Paul McCartney did a certain amount of the drumming on Abbey Road.)
I don't think either would qualify as "great" drummers, frankly, but Watts would be closest. Whoever mentioned John Bonham...now he left his mark. Another hugely under-rated drummer was Clive Bunker, who was with Jethro Tull through Aqualung (I think). One of the most creative AND rock solid drummers in rock 'n roll.
Underselling Ringo is kinda sad, like the way many dismiss George's profound contribution to the most influential band in modern history. Watts is great but face it, he seldom had to stretch playing with the Stones like Ringo did with the Beatles. Ringo is a very proficient drummer with a very singular style and a wonderful creative spirit. Two very accomplished musicians each with an important place in modern music history.
"thunder rolled over the hills like Jean Krupa with glasspacks"
Ringo Starr was considered the best drummer in England when he left Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to join The Beatles. I believe that Charlie Watts lived in England at the time and he was never considered as formidable as Ringo. Different styles for different bands. I think that I wouldn't mind having either one in my band.
I really never noted the Beatles for drumming at all. Funny how some people get it and others don't - I certainly don't get it with Ringo - but I agree he is superb but is he remarkable? Melodies seems to stand out most in my mind coupled with rather simple back beats/fills.
The Stones, however, that is a for sure rhythmical blues/funky stuff. Charlie does a great job, IMHO. I reckon funk/blues and swing is real tricky on timing - just listen to David Garibaldi the "groovemaster" on Tower of Power, Wesley Finley of Rebelution, Keith Harris Black Eyed Peas, Steve Jordan or Steve Ferrone. To me each of these drummers give the music a lively "light" feel or touch - an ability that contrasts with heavily technical drummers like Neil Peart/Buddy Rich/Keith moon which seem to pound thinsg out metronomically...just two cents.
We both got it slightly incorrect. According to the book "The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions" it was Andy White who played on at least one early Beatles song. This book is really interesting in an acedemic sort of way. It lists each Beatles' recording session and as accurately as possible (as can be determined) which Beatle played which instruments and which outside musicians or friends played on which songs.
"I really never noted the Beatles for drumming at all. Funny how some people get it and others don't - I certainly don't get it with Ringo - but I agree he is superb but is he remarkable? Melodies seems to stand out most in my mind coupled with rather simple back beats/fills. "
Shadorne, take another listen to the drumming on "Rain", "Tomorrow Never Knows" and countless other songs where Lennon is the singer. As Ringo stated in a recent interview, he was allowed to be creative on a John song whereas Paul would try to tell everyone what to play. It shows.
As for Charlie Watts, he's quite boring to me, both in manner and playing style.
Shadhorne - Dave Garibaldi w/ Tower of Power - yeah, that is some serious pushing of the beat. Funk/blues and swing are where you have some serious rubber-meeting-the-road, just in terms of pure technique for drummers...a fabulous pinnacle being Mike Clark on Herbie Hancock's Thrust...polyrhythms of amazing complexity, but right THERE. Charlie Watts could probably play funk. Ringo had some creative ideas, but when you put him up against some of the jazz-trained pro studio guys or the last 20 years like Vinnie Colaiuta or Mike Clark or Dave Garibaldi, he's just not got the technical equipment to do what they can do. Yet, they'd probably each credit him with "opening the door"--helping turn the drums into a musical instrument in its own right instead of a metronome. He wasn't a strong technician, and he wasn't rock solid, but he WAS creative and musical within his context, and it's worth hearing what he had to say.
Thanks for the comments. I am trying to learn more about drumming (got a V drums set recently). I need to take Ringo seriously it would seem.
I need to get Thrust - good suggestion. I gave Head Hunters a lot of play time when I was heavily into Vinyl - during the early 80's and at a time when most music sounded so good (unlike today where it is almost all hyper-compressed crap - I blame the Steve Lillywhite loudness legacy that followed the wonderful work of David Lord, Trevor Horn, Hugh Padgham and Alan Parsons, Colin Thurston, Elliot Sheiner and many others)
The show was fraught with drama and emotion, as you can imagine.
The second time I saw The Who that year, Pete put on a guitar clinic. It was amazing to watch and hear.
The only previous time I had seen The Who was at their "Farewell Tour" in 1983 (I think it was). Kenny Jones was on drums. Yawn.
Zach Starkey was a definite improvement.
Looks like this thread has been hijacked so I'll jump in with my off-topic comments. Saw the Who 11/06 with Zach and he was superb throughout the show. As Tvad mentioned, Pete put on a clinic. It had been 32 years since I'd seen them last and I was absolutely mesmerized by Pete's chops. Seemed like he played lead and rhythm simultaneously throughout the show..unfriggenbelieveable! And the light show - OMG. I've never seen anything like it. Icing on the cake one of my customers did the light and sound for the show.
We saw opening night for the current Mark Knopfler tour at Red Rocks Tuesday. Of course, everyone was blown away by Mark and his smokin' band. IMHO, the Who were at least one maybe two orders of magnitude better. Solid rock? Fugetaboutit!
Comparing the drumming styles of arguably the two most influential drummers in the history of rock is a interesting if not a valid question. Based on the numerous responses this thread has generated I would think most of us agree. These forums are for the Audiogon community to express themselves. Next time you view a thread that you find pathetic I suggest you do what I do every day, jut pass on it. Obviously you have no sense of what these forums are about. Sharing ideas, knowledge and most importantly, having some fun.