Ringo Starr’s Best Starring Role: Ringo Starr

Earlier this month, as a lead-in to the annual Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans, this site posed eight survey questions about Fab Four fan favorites. There were no “correct” answers, just the quest for preferences.

Two questions had overwhelming favorite answers.

Given a choice of roles from Ringo Starr’s movie career, some preferred Atouk (from Caveman, where Ringo met future wife Barbara Bach), Mike (from the rock movie That’ll Be The Day, one of Ringo’s most-praised roles), or Frank Zappa (from Zappa’s own 200 Motels, where Ringo struck a surprisingly creditable pose as the musician’s doppelganger).

The unquestioned favorite role, though, was Ringo Starr playing Ringo Starr in Beatles movies, especially in A Hard Day’s Night, Help, and Yellow Submarine. Who could argue with those signature performances? Starting with that first black-and-white fictional documentary of a day in the life of the group, it cemented the affection of multiple generations.

Eyeglasses was the top choice in the category “the sartorial garb you most associate with John Lennon.” That no doubt reflected iconic images of Lennon as an artist, writer, and activist from about the “All You Need Is Love” era onward. Oddly, in the live performing days, Lennon frequently preferred squinting over wearing glasses (though the success of Buddy Holly in spectacles did remove some of that onus). Much later, he once again put aside his glasses for the formal photo sessions for his 1980 comeback.

Where would people love to be listening to “Back in the U.S.S.R.”?  It was neck-and-neck between Paul McCartney live at Madison Square Garden, and in Moscow. (See you at Red Square!)

First Beatles song you remember hearing as a kid? “A Hard Day’s Night” topped that list, probably because of the movie connection. There’s a surprisingly wide range of answers because new generations have been exposed to Beatles music practically from the crib. So answers such as “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus’s Garden” were not out of the question.

Favorite Beatles song mentioning animals? “I Am The Walrus”

Four of the questions were totally open-ended, and in three cases there was no clear consensus. Favorite George Harrison songs ranged from the expected “Here Comes The Sun” to the laid back “Gone Troppo.”

Song you’d like to hear Paul McCartney perform live: Pretty much anything, ranging from “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Yesterday,” and “Till There Was You” to the B-side “Summer of ’59.”

The Beatles song that makes you want to roll down the car windows and crank up the volume? A list as long as the catalogue: “Revolution.” “Back in the U.S.S.R.” I Saw Her Standing There.” And so on. Imagine a summer traffic jam in the midst of Beatles fans.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Though comparatively limited in number, this was a good first run, which I will attempt to expand in the future. Biggest lesson is that there was far more focus with a list of suggested answers (with an “other” option) rather than with a totally open category.

The biggest non-surprise? The range of answers was wide and deep, reflecting the passion of the fans who know the subject matter well. Experiencing that has always been one of the truly special aspects of my chronicling the pop culture world of The Beatles over the years: in print, on the air, and (armed with the latest trivia) at conventions.

© 2011 Walter J. Podrazik

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