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Ringo Starr downplays drumming technique as he accepts honorary doctorate: ‘I just hit the buggers’

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Ringo Starr was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Berklee College of Music in a special ceremony held on Thursday (2 June).

In his address, The Beatles drummer gave graduates a light-hearted glimpse into his approach to performing.

“You know, I just hit them. That’s all I do,” Starr said. “I just hit the buggers. And it seems to be, I hit them in the right place.”

Starr, who was unable to attend the university’s main graduation event last month, recounted his personal history with the drums, which he started playing as a child when recovering from tuberculosis in hospital.

Once a month, a worker there would bring in instruments for the kids. Starr recalled refusing to play unless he was allowed to use the small drums.

“The idea that I’m a doctor blows me away,” Starr said, reflecting on the distance he’s travelled since he first dreamed of being a drummer at age 13. His first gigs were playing with his friends in the basement of the Liverpool factory where he also worked.

At one point, Starr sat behind the drum kit in his cap and gown to tell a few anecdotes about his time as a drum teacher. Starr also described the distinction from Berklee as “some strange fairy tale”.

Starr’s full address is available to watch on YouTube.

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