I Feel Fine

I Feel Fine single - United KingdomWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 18 October 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 27 November 1964 (UK), 23 November 1964 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, guitar
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Past Masters
Anthology 2
Live At The BBC
On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2

The Beatles' eighth single, I Feel Fine was recorded during the sessions for the Beatles For Sale album, although it was a stand-alone release.

Download on iTunes

George and I play the same bit on guitar together - that's the bit that'll set your feet a-tapping, as the reviews say. I suppose it has a bit of a country and western feel about it, but then so have a lot of our songs. The middle eight is the most tuneful part, to me, because it's a typical Beatles bit.
John Lennon, 1964

I Feel Fine was a riff-driven, blues-based number. It was written by John Lennon, possibly during the 6 October 1964 recording session for Eight Days A Week.

The guitar riff was actually influenced by a record called Watch Your Step by Bobby Parker. But all riffs in that tempo have a similar sound. John played it, and all I did was play it as well, and it became the double-tracked sound.
George Harrison

The Beatles had originally intended for Eight Days A Week to be their next single, but the plan was shelved once they had completed I Feel Fine.

The song itself was more John's than mine. We sat down and co-wrote it with John's original idea. John sang it, I'm on harmonies and the drumming is basically what we used to think of as What'd I Say drumming. There was a style of drumming on What'd I Say which is a sort of Latin R&B that Ray Charles's drummer Milt Turner played on the original record and we used to love it. One of the big clinching factors about Ringo as the drummer in the band was that he could really play that so well.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The Beatles also recorded I Feel Fine for BBC radio. The performance was taped at the Playhouse Theatre in London, on 17 November 1964. It was first broadcast on the Top Gear programme on 26 November, and again on 26 December on Saturday Club. It was eventually released on 1994's Live At The BBC.

I Feel Fine was part of The Beatles' live repertoire from 1964 to 1966. It was one of the songs performed during their final tour date on 29 August 1966, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded I Feel Fine on 18 October 1964, in a nine-hour session that also saw them complete Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!, Mr Moonlight, I'll Follow The Sun, Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby and Rock And Roll Music. They also taped edit pieces for the intro and ending of Eight Days A Week.

I Feel Fine was completed in nine takes. The first eight were of the rhythm track only, and the final take was an overdub of the vocals. It was the first Beatles song to have the backing track recorded before the vocals, as John Lennon had trouble singing and playing at the same time.

I wrote I Feel Fine around the riff which is going on in the background. I tried to get that effect into practically every song on the LP, but the others wouldn't have it. I told them that I'd write a song specially for this riff. So they said, 'Yes, you go away and do that,' knowing that we'd almost finished the album. Anyway, going into the studio one morning, I said to Ringo, 'I've written this song, but it's lousy.' But we tried it, complete with riff, and it sounded like an a-side, so we decided to release it just like that.
John Lennon, 1964

John Lennon played an acoustic Gibson guitar on the recording, although it was amplified to give the impression of an electric guitar. George Harrison used an electric Gretsch Tennessean.

The distinctive opening note was the result of a low A note plucked by Paul McCartney on bass, while Lennon's guitar pickups were directed towards his amplifier. It was one of the very first instances of feedback being used on a record, and demonstrated the increased confidence of The Beatles as recording artists.

That's me completely. Including the electric guitar lick and the record with the first feedback anywhere. I defy anybody to find a record - unless it's some old blues record in 1922 - that uses feedback that way. I mean, everybody played with feedback on stage, and the Jimi Hendrix stuff was going on long before. In fact, the punk stuff now is only what people were doing in the clubs. So I claim it for The Beatles. Before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody. The first feedback on any record.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The use of feedback violated Parlophone's strict recording policies, and so the band came to downplay it as an accident during recording. In actual fact it was present from the very first take.

John had a semi-acoustic Gibson guitar. It had a pick-up on it so it could be amplified. John and George both had them...

We were just about the walk away to listen to a take when John leaned his guitar against the amp. I can still see him doing it. He really should have turned the electric off. It was only on a tiny bit, and John just leaned it against the amp when it went, 'Nnnnnnwahhhhh!' And we went, 'What's that? Voodoo!' 'No, it's feedback.' 'Wow, it's a great sound!' George Martin was there so we said, ' Can we have that on the record?' 'Well, I suppose we could, we could edit it on the front.' It was a found object, an accident caused by leaning the guitar against the amp.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Chart success

I Feel Fine was released in the UK on 27 November 1964. It entered the singles chart at number one, selling more than 800,000 copies within the first five days.

The single remained at the top of the charts for six weeks, and by 11 December had sold over a million copies.

With I Feel Fine, we were ready to get to number five at first go, and I suppose if we'd have done that, we'd have been written off. Nobody would have remembered that The Beatles had had six number ones on the trot before I Feel Fine... Coming in at number one was great, because, well, we weren't sure we'd do it.
John Lennon, 1964

It was released in the US on 23 November, and sold more than a million copies in its first week of release. It entered the top 40 on 5 December at number 22, and by 26 December it was number one. It stayed there for three weeks, and remained in the top 40 for 11 weeks.

103 responses on “I Feel Fine

  1. Jason

    “I Feel Fine was completed in nine takes. The first eight were of the rhythm track only, and the final take was an overdub of the vocals.”

    The “Studio Sessions 1964” bootleg, released in 1994 by Yellow Dog, contains a few takes of I Feel Fine (1, 2, 5, 6, & 7). Takes 1, 2, and 5 on that CD have John singing along with the band. Take 6 seems to be the first one played without vocals.

    1. Joe Post author

      David – on page two of this article there’s info on the feedback note. For the record, it was a bass note played by McCartney, combined with feedback from Lennon’s acoustic guitar pickups.

            1. Vihar

              Ahh right. Actually, looking at live footages I’m not even sure John played the riff itself in concerts, it looks like he only strummed chords while George playing the single note riff. And the feedback… I can only assume it has happened a few times accidentally, or even on purpose. But too much of it can kill the speakers in the amps, so I’m not sure they let them risking it on stage.

              1. mark

                thanks for getting back. would john have done the intro/feedback in the studio, when making the record and would it have been done on a rickenbacker or gibson?

              2. Dave

                If you go to youtube:
                at Shea stadium, watch closely and you can see were John is playing the main riff, while George is playing rhythm. The reason it looks like he’s just strumming is just they way he played the riff itself using up/down strokes. There are also points during the song where George is “double-tracking” the riff, also, as noted in the text above.

              3. Dave R.

                Vihar- John played the opening riff of “I Feel Fine” and during the song George would “double-track” Johns riff when not playing rhythm. Check this out video with John playing his original Gibson J160 in Paris 1965, and it become obvious it’s John playing the riff. You can also tell the distinction between John’s J160 and George’s Gretsch. Enjoy!

  2. Christian

    Some people still say that Ringo ain’t good drummer. Bollox. That latin drumbeat is as good as Ray Charles drummer’s in “What’d Say”.

  3. Nando

    The bridge/solo sounds very similar to a song I cannot put my finger on. I swear I have heard an older song where one of the main riffs sounds a bit like the solo in this song. I am not talking about the Bobby Parker song either. Anyone else?

    1. Deadman

      Shortly after the release of “I Feel Fine”, there was feedback in “I’ll Follow the Sun” at 0:50 (before and during “that I have gone”, and again around 1:36.
      There was also feedback in “I’m Looking Through You”: listen at 0:15, just after “knew you”, and at 1.19 just after “you were above me”.
      “Nowhere Man” has feedback at 0:39, after “you’re missing”.
      “Penny Lane” seems to have feedback, (fittingly, and probably from a mic rather than from a guitar) at 1:19.
      As for “Yer Blues” …

  4. Julio

    I always wondered if Ringo actually played the drums on this tune. They are just so damn good! They don’t really sound like his clumsy but unique soulful style. He definitely comes nowhere near playing this beat live.

      1. thomas

        Ringo was never a flashy high profile drummer. Buddy Rich he wasn’t. But when it came to backing a song, a melody, with a solid and creative beat no one was better. His syncopations are among the most influential and unique in rock history. Not only that, he was multi-talented in that he could play a variety of drumming styles. something most rock drummers really suck at.

        Course, Julio will probably have to look up and study the meaning of syncopation to see how Ringo masterfully applied what Julio ignorantly sees as “clumsy” beats to songs like Happiness is a Warm Gun, Strawberry Fields, and others. Real drummers know how competent and inventive a drummer Ringo truly was as a Beatle.

          1. thomas

            I’m not excited. Not everyone loves Ringo. Ringo himself has said when he hears other drummers, he knows he’s no good. He’s just being humble though, and referring to technical mastery. There are an incredible number of technical moves and techniques in “academic” drumming circles. But that doesn’t make one a good musician. Rock drumming is maybe like art — there’s really no such thing as right or wrong technique. Mastering your own technique is what counts.

            Due to his left handed limitations, Ringo couldn’t roll around the kit, as George Martin put it, “to save his life.” But he was an excellent and inventive drummer-musician. Except I can’t stand his singing 🙂

            1. McLerristarr

              He was only partly left-handed though. He said himself that he was made to become right-handed by his auntie or somebody. That’s what made him brilliant, he could play right-handed AND left-handed.

              1. thomas

                You’re right this made him the drummer he was, but once left or right handed you can’t really change it.

                In interviews Ringo has stated that while he was made to write right-handed, his left handedness remained a technical limitation in his drumming. Nevertheless when watching him play you notice he often did a fill simultaneously using two hands, i.e., like a two-handed single roll (I Want To Hold Your Hand is a good example of this ambidexterous coordination.)

    1. Dave

      That’s what recording studios are used for, to get the best take for the “master”. I saw an interview of the group filmed around 1964, and a reporter had asked about Ringo’s drumming, and John, in his typically sarcastic wit, said “He’s not even the best drummer in the group!” It was all in fun, though. He was obviously referring to McCartney’s drumming, as he was quite the multi-instrumentalist and actually developed the drum riff fro Ringo on “Ticket To Ride”. John greatly respected Ringo AND his drumming, and that’s why Pete Best isn’t rich & famous today! It wouldn’t have been The Beatles without Ringo’s distinct drumming.

        1. Schminking of gin

          Love to see the source of that quote. I always heard that quote was attributed to Lennon in 1968, after Ringo had left the band and Paul drummed on Back in the USSR and Dear Prudence (see the Dear Prudence page for the fight on that)

      1. Abdul

        i understand that is not a Lennon quote at all but a joke by Jasper Carrott from much later but people would much rather John had said it than Jasper Carrott and so history is rewritten 🙂

    2. Davey

      Ringo was an absolutely brilliant drummer. He played the drums on most of the Beatles tracks, and yes he was very humble about his own work. He often criticized it, but then again John would put down his own work a lot as well.

      The reason he can’t reproduce this beat live is because, and he states in often in the Anthology, the crowd was so loud that it was a damn near miracle he could even keep a steady beat, let alone pull off anything clever. Not to mention the fact that he was playing left handed on a right-handed drum kit. The sit in drummer for when Ringo was sick, Jimmy Nicol, is very praising of Ringo’s drumming. He describes it as unique, using the opposite drum kit set up as a creative break-through.

      Ringo played the drums on I Feel Fine no doubt, just as he played drums on the masterpiece A Day In the Life, and was tricked into the solo on The End. What a great guy.

  5. CraftyWilyVeteran

    It is no longer cool to dis Ringo. Unbelievable that die-hard Ringo haters can read Paul’s words about Ringo’s mastery of this specific beat and STILL doubt that it’s him. Ringo was/is a wonderful drummer. Live with it.

    1. Julio

      Die-hard Ringo haters? Whatever that means. I am simply stating that the drum beat does not sound like ringo. I love ringo, and when I say “clumsy”, I mean that an endearing way, his fills are a bit clumsy that is what makes them so great. Ringo does not even come close to playing this beat live. I know playing live is totally different than in the controlled environment of a studio but still. As for Mr. Brush, you don’t need to spend time defending any of the Beatles. We all love them, they are the greatest thing that ever was or will be. We are all Beatles nuts. why do you think we spend time blogging about them? Having said that, one feels like they know them and love them so much that they have the right to be critical of them. By offering different perspectives of their legacy, you keep it alive and interesting. Lay off the reprimands and by the way Pepper is still Paul’s album.

      1. McLerristarr

        Ringo played this song live flawlessly. I have no idea what you mean by “clumsy”; he was a very straight-ahead drummer, usually simple but effective.

      2. thomas

        Ringo could play multiple drum styles. He wasn’t “clumsy.” Any live performance of his drumming (Ed Sullivan, etc.) shows him to possess amazing coordination and perfect timing. The reason for his unique syncopations and fills was that he was left-handed playing a right-handed drum kit. That’s all. He went beyond mere rudimentary standard back beats and fills. He made drumming an important musical element of Beatle songs, just as Paul did with his bass playing. Ringo is considered an innovative and influential drummer because of this. Some highly regarded rock drummers have said the following:

        Phil Collins: “Starr is vastly underrated. The drum fills on ‘A Day in the Life’ are very complex things. You could take a drummer today and say, ‘I want it like that.’ They wouldn’t know what to do.”

        Kenny Aronoff: “I consider him one of the greatest innovators of rock drumming and believe that he has been one of the greatest influences on rock drumming today. Ringo laid down the fundamental rock beat that drummers are playing today. Ringo always approached the song more like a songwriter than a drummer. He always served the music.”

        Max Weinberg: “D. J. Fontana had introduced me to the power of the big beat. Ringo convinced me just how powerful that rhythm could be. Ringo drew a spotlight toward the rock and roll drummer. From his matched grip style to his pioneering use of staggered tom tom fills, his influence in rock drumming was as important as Gene Krupa’s had been in jazz.”

        Don Was: “As a drummer, he influenced three generations of rock drummers. It’s not flashy, but it’s very musical. Instead of just counting bars, he’s playing the song and he puts fills in unusual places that are directed by the vocal.”

        John Rogers: “He was one of, if not the first drummers to play the semi-open hi-hat. Ringo mastered a groove that is hard to explain as well as play. If you listen to songs like, “I’m A Loser,” “Help!,” and “Honey Don’t” to name a few, he plays this groove where the hi-hat is somewhere between playing 16th notes and a shuffle. Very hard to master and play.”

        Steve Smith: “Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity. Ringo created a new paradigm in [rock] drummers. We started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect. One of Ringo’s great qualities was that he composed unique, stylistic drum parts for Beatles songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song.”

        Tony Demagistris: “Ringo’s drumming is simple, exciting, inventive and above all original. Drummers have tried to duplicate his feel and it is not an easy thing to do and what at first listen appears to be deceptively simple is not at all. While not the most technically proficient and eschewing flashy solos, some of the fills he’s done are head scratchers that drummers admire and still try to replicate. His fills particularly during the chorus and reprise are exciting and difficult to replicate.”

        George Harrison: “Ringo could be the best, or at least one of the best, rock and roll drummers. He does fills which crack up [drummers] like Jim Keltner who’s just amazed because Ringo starts them in the wrong place and all of that, but that is his brilliance, that’s pure feel…Ringo’s got the best back beat I’ve ever heard and he can play great 24-hours a day.”


          All the live videos of Ringo playing “I Feel Fine” reveal the same thing; Ringo was NOT playing the ride cymbal with the dotted or triplet feel like heard on the record, but simply hitting the bell on each quarter note beat. I will go to my grave believing that it was Bernard Purdie who played on the master take.

      3. Wenko Millaard

        The reason Ringo used to stick to a more straightforward backbeat whenever they played live is that it kept the band together better than by using the cymbal-light syncopated style on the recorded version. They hardly could hear themselves and each other play on stage.

    1. Von Bontee

      “Last Train” sounds more like “Paperback Writer” than anything!

      Sugarloaf’s (partly autobiographical) hit song “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” blatantly uses the “I Feel Fine” riff during the choruses. And in the middle-8, the singer optimistically describes his band as “sound[ing] like John, Paul and George!” It was a Top Five hit in 1975 (in North America, anyways), could that be the one Nando’s thinking of?

    2. McLerristarr

      I always thought ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ sounded like ‘Ticket to Ride’. Either way, Nando said an “older song”, The Monkees copied The Beatles, not the other way around.

      1. thomas

        Exactly. The “monkees” weren’t a real group. They were hired to act in the TV show and “perform” songs contracted by producer Don Kirshner’s writers and studio musicians. They were intended to take advantage of Beatles popularity in looks, sounds, and fashion. Essentially Beatles knock-offs for public consumption.

        Last Train to Clarksville was a very good song but actually written and performed by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, with Mickey Dolenz on vocal. It debuted in August 1966 well after Ticket to Ride.

        1. vonbontee

          It’s interesting how the 1964 Beatles were seemingly obsessed with finding new ways to open their songs. Not just the literally unprecendented feedback and fade-in (“I Feel Fine”, “Eight Days a Week”) but also that “Hard Day’s Night” chord and the “twang” in “Baby’s In Black” which apparently took George over a dozen takes to perfect.

        2. vonbontee

          To be fair, the Monkees did have a couple of actual musicians and fine singers, and they worked hard and eventually became a genuine band. Their 1966-68 output is the equivalent of three excellent albums (unfortunately spread across six pieces of vinyl.)

  6. Bob Dobson

    Let me start by saying that I love Ringo. “Day in the Life,” “Strawberry Fields,” “Rain,” etc. Clumsy or not (and I completely understand the description as clumsy) his feel and fills are unmatched, unique, fantastic!

    This said, I agree about “I Feel Fine.” The studio drumming is nothing like the drumming on the live versions on BBC and Anthology. The choruses certainly sound like Ringo, but the studio-version verses make me wonder… It’s the ride cymbal/tom pattern combination. Maybe they did it as an overdub? But Ringo doesn’t match it live… Live the ride cymbal pattern is cut in half and the toms are a bit clunky, on record its very, very slick…

    1. thomas

      Well, we should consider that few live Beatle performances matched their studio perfection. Some early ones, maybe, like on Ed Sullivan ’64. Few drummers play backbeats and fills _exactly_ the same live as they did in the studio, especially after hundreds of continuous and tiring live performances. Mistakes are made, improvs may be added. Personaly, I’ve seen some great drummers live (Keith Moon, Michael Shrieve, etc.)

      The Beatles live were also affected to large degree by beatlemania and not being able to hear each other play. Both timing and harmonies could be way off. In videos of Ringo playing this though I see no reason to doubt. 1) It’s not that complex a beat, though requires consistent coordination, and 2) he was more than coordinated enough. It also could be they were high at times when playing, which might affect the timing even more. Also the BBC live recording isn’t that great, and neither is the overall playing, but again it’s live after live after live performances by them. They got sloppy. That’s all. It’s one reason they stopped touring: their music was suffering.

      Live Shea Stadium performance. I hear Ringo pretty well matching the basic studio beat:


      Live in Japan live they are all off, out of time, and out of tune:

  7. Robert

    When asked if Ringo was the best drummer in rock and roll, John Lennon responded, “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles!”

    The cruel Lennon humor – yet John used Ringo on his first solo album and worked the most with Ringo post-Beatles. Look at how often John used Ringo on John’s albums as well as how often John appeared on Ringo’s albums.

    Ringo remains a groundbreaking drummer.

  8. Dartos

    I think John was joking also. The animosity among the members of the group never seemed to affect the Lennon-Starkey relationship.

    In my opinion, Ringo’s strength was his consistency. His drum beats never really stand out, but fit in perfectly with the song being recorded.

  9. Cameron McIntosh

    I love this song especially that riff. When I first heard Ringo do that drum bit to bring them back after the middle eight (as they called it) I was done! It’s so simple but I love it to this day. The recording above in Japan is bad, John had no idea of the words in the chorus. People did not care and frankly neither do I…. I still love them!

  10. MJ

    That’s definitely Ringo. He plays a similar beat during the bridge of “The Night Before.” The live versions might sound a bit different, but holding down the beat & keeping time were his main concerns during concerts and television performances, not duplicating the studio performance. The screaming called for a stripped down approach so that the band wouldn’t lose themselves in all the noise.

  11. ManNamedLear

    I agree that it’s Ringo. I also suspect that Paul made suggestions to Ringo about certain aspects of the verse beat.

    These are my educated guesses:

    When playing live, Ringo didn’t have mics on his drums, so he’d have to hit harder than he did in the studio, where the sound could be controlled. In order to prevent excessive ringing, and in order to provide the others—especially John—with audible timekeeping, Ringo had to simplify the beat. Hence the snare being much more center to the live beat than the studio beat, and hence the difference in ride bell pattern.

    There’s no way he could play at a reasonable enough volume (and play with all elements of his kit in sonic balance) and play the part he played on the record. There’s also no way the band would’ve played in sync if he had.

    Would playing something closely resembling the studio part not tire Ringo out too much? Consider the amount of energy required to play his 8th- and 16th-note shuffles on songs like “Help!” and the like.

    If John started the song off too quickly, could Ringo even keep up? It’s not the easiest part in the world.

    1. Von Bontee

      Yeah, in the studio Ringo’d have had 15 or 20 takes to perfect it – why bother to take that chance playing live, when what you’re playing isn’t even audible to the audience, really? Better just to play the simplified beat.

  12. Jammy_jim

    Whoa! What’s with all the Ringo hate?! He played excellent drums on this song — but that’s no surprise. I agree with many of his talented drummer peers who praise him – he a great drummer.

  13. Andy

    What about the barking dogs at the very end of the remastered mono version? It sounds like barking dogs, or something similar; I could be wrong. Until now, I’ve not heard that before.

    Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

  14. Richard Lyman

    In my opinion, Ringo Starr is not playing the drums on this recording. True, the sound quality at the concerts was bad most of the time. However, during the BBC recordings, with all his drums miked up, and many takes, Ringo couldn’t even come close to what was played on the record. The obvious conclusion is someone else is playing on the record. Someday those little secrets will come out and break everybody’s bubble. It happens. It’s still hard for me to believe that Paul Revere and The Raiders, Hermans’ Hermits, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express, Them, The Grass Roots, The Mamas and Papas, The Beach Boys, and many others, didn’t play any of their own instruments on their records. That secret just came out recently (People should be apologising to the Monkees). When all the Beatles are finally dead and gone, expect at least a few big skeletons to come out of their closet. Frankly, though, I don’t see the big deal. He probably couldn’t get it right the way the other three wanted, and either one of them played the drums or a sessions guy came and finished the track, probably someone in their inner circle who would keep quiet about it. Ringo was not a good technical drummmer and this track seems to have a tricky beat that’s outside his style and ability. You know Ringos style from tracks like MONEY, ANY TIME AT ALL, HELTER SKELTER, or his Tom Tom work on tracks like RAIN but this one (I FEEL FINE) is not his drumming. Another track he likely did not play on is PLEASE PLEASE ME. It was said that the Beatles first attempt to record PLEASE PLEASE ME was a slower version, like a Roy Orbison song, and Andy White was on drums. Then the anthology comes out and it’s the same song missing the harmonica. Andy White says in a recent interview that that’s him playing Please Please Me on the record and they just over dubbed the harmonica.

      1. Richard Lyman

        Those early takes are sloppy and out of time, and in fact most of the takes I’ve heard are. Whoever played on the record probably came in for the last takes or mayber later after the others left after giving up on Ringo getting it down. It happens even to the best of them. A song comes along that they just can’t get. Like Back in the USSR or Ballad of John and Yoko. Paul was the better suited drummer for those recordings, and in fact if I had to name the drummer on I FEEL FINE, based on what I’ve heard on DEAR PRUDENCE (Paul on Drums) I would say it’s probably Paul on I FEEL FINE. Paul is a great drummer. He does all the instruments on his BAND ON THE RUN ALBUM and the drums on that album are outstanding. I still think RINGO is a very good drummer who can hold his own in any studio and generally does not need a sessions drummer, but face it, he not in the league with sessions greats like Hal Blaine. He’s an excellent rock and roll drummer but not some drumming god like some are making out.

        1. appmanga

          You don’t know what you’re talking about. Just as on “Ticket To Ride” and “Day Tripper”, Ringo shows here why he is one of rock’s greatest drummers. The performance on “I Feel Fine” is pure Ringo, and The Beatles used a session drummer once, and only once, at the insistence of George Martin, and that was before he knew how skilled Ringo was. And while Paul is a gifted drummer, he wasn’t close to Ringo (who said the other three Beatles were all good drummers, but each only in one style).

  15. Richard Lyman

    The guitar riff on this song is pretty tricky to learn, but comes easy once you find out that the entire riff is played within the notes of bar chords. You just hold your hand in the bar chord shape, mute it a litte with the side of your hand, and pick out the notes with your pinky. The pinky is the only finger you need to move to play the riff.

  16. Otis

    On the I Feel Fine recording, there is very fast playing on the bell of the ride cymbal (sixteenth note patterns)… which is tricky to do at that tempo, for ANY drummer. When Ringo plays the song live, he doesn’t even attempt the fast bell part and just plays quarter or eighth notes. While Ringo IS a GREAT drummer, it is hard to imagine him playing such fast patterns on the ride bell with his right hand. He very well may not have had the technical ability to do that. On Ed Sullivan and the Japan concerts, he’s not even remotely attempting it. I’d thnk that if he actually did record that part on the record, he would have at least thrown a few sixteenth notes in their live… but he doesn’t do any… just as if he was just not able to do it. So, while I personally feel that Ringo was one of the greatest and most important drummers of all time, I’m thinking that the I Feel Fine beat was played by someone else on the recording… either that or they had someone overdub the ride cymbal part somehow (likely the prior). There’d be no Beatles without Ringo, just remember that.

    1. Gary84

      I find it far more likely that he just went for the easier option during live performances – all four Beatles have stated numerous times how hard it was for them to hear themselves and each other, and Ringo has ‘fessed up to simplifying many of his beats for concerts.

      It’s worth noting that the the breaks in ‘The Night Before’ contain exactly the same pattern of sixteenths, and he can be seen to mime it accurately in the video. If he has the dexterity to mime it, I don’t see why (with the benefit of extended studio time) he couldn’t play it.

  17. Wildcat

    Debates and opinions on subjects such as this are what help to maintain an enthusiastic curiosity to complement The Beatles’ Souffle’ that constantly fluctuates in shape and form as my mind attempts to craft it into the completed and perfect simmering dish at the centre of the dining room table, invitingly awaiting consumption by one and all so eager to fully digest such sumptuous and nourishing information that a true, relentless Beatles’ fan requires on a neverending basis.

    Arguments, both pro and con, are equally fascinating to read, and even further proof that a lifelong Beatles’ fan of 40-plus years is incapable of acquiring ALL relative knowledge related to a pop group of such phenomenal proportions.

    The very essence of Beatles musicology is the limitless perspectives and critical observations on subjects heretofore unexplored in any comprehensively substantial matter, as this forum allows.

    Offering my own opinion as to Ringo’s questionable contribution to ‘I Feel Fine’ would be presumptuous, hollow and totally inappropriate, as I had never even considered the possibility/suggestion previous to reading these comments.

    But I don’t mind admitting my own ignorance when I stumble across discussions like these, and I like the fact that, after reading every comment regarding Ringo’s ability/participation on ‘I Feel Fine’, I am still not persuaded in believing one theory over another.

    I’m a stubborn, impatient middle-aged man, yet the pursuit of knowledge on a subject I highly enjoy growing older with, as opposed to other historical crap that was only learned out of necessity, provides a consistent and ever-illuminating re-imagining of a legendary entity such as The Beatles, whose all-encompassing popularity and favorable acceptance the world over cannot be changed by any history text or comparable Beatles’ authority who would dare to suggest otherwise.

    Okay, so please, carry on with this discussion and forgive my intrusion..

  18. Dave Mick

    What Ringo is doing on the studio version during the verse seems to be a mix of 16th notes and something like a Mambo beat on the ride cymbal. It appears to be variations of this throughout the verses. It is not easy to play I can attest to that and I can see playing live it could be a stretch to make it work.

  19. Mem

    To anyone who says Ringo is not drumming on I Feel Fine you are a fair dinkum IMBECILE! that is all! Whats next John, Paul or George never sung particular songs?? LMAO!

  20. Gary Parker

    First of all, a belated ‘tip of the hat’ to Wildcat for his reasoned and very enjoyable contribution to this thread.

    Now on to the discussion over Ringo’s technical proficiency vis’ a vis’ I Feel Fine.”

    Like others, I’ve always been flummoxed by the stark disparity between the kick-ass drumming on the studio recording and the rather labored effort that is apparent during the live shows. I’ve pretty much left with this:

    Regarding the Ringster’s capababilites: Anybody who thinks Ringo can’t drum needs to listen to his bass drum on the opening to Paperback Writer and the snare-to-bass-drum thing he does just before McCartney’s first lines of “The Night Before.”
    As to the idea that Ringo “wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles”….I don’t know one rock drummer (and I’ve known quite a few) who thinks Paul McCartney’s a good drummer. A decent time keeper? Sure. But most drummers I know think (and I concur) that his drumming lacks spark, innovation and energy.

    Anyhoo, back to the I Feel Fine dust-up: I *formerly* questioned whether Ringo was capable of playing the great drumming exhibited in the studio version…..that is, until I saw a lypsynch video (which I possess and promise to cite soon) where he effortlessly tears off the bell cymbal work we hear on the record. As to why he didn’t it the same way in concert is an issue that’s open to dispute.

  21. Gary Parker

    As promised (threatened??), here’s where you can find Ringo holding down the precise trap-work he demonstrated on the studio version of I Feel Fine: Beatles Anthology: Chapter 4. It’s a lipsynch performance, but clearly he’s nailing the 16 beat pattern on the cymbal crown you hear on the record. So, could he do it? Yep. s

  22. robert

    Here’s my two cents (over priced at that). If Ringo was not doing the drumming, who ever did the drumming – that secret would be out by now (unless it was done by Paul and that was why he was killed – the car accident was a set-up to hide the fact that the original Paul did the I Feel Fine drumming thus tying the Paul is Dead theory into an understandable conspiracy – Ringo’s dignity).

    My theory on the reason Ringo didn’t play that beat live would not be because he couldn’t do it, but most likely because Lennon couldn’t play and sing to that beat live. With all that noise and lousy sound equipment, holding it together would be tough for anyone.

    Ringo played it. If he hadn’t everyone would know by now. Ask Richard Nixon how hard it is to keep a secret.

  23. robert

    OK. I almost never do this type of post but I have watched and listened to four live versions of I Feel Fine, anyone who doesn’t hear Ringo playing a live version of the beat on the record doesn’t have ears. He plays it live, he plays it on the record. If you can’t hear it, it’s your ears, not his playing. I will allow that Shea is the worst one to judge by. Go to youtube search some live versions and that should settle it.

  24. johnplink

    What is the source for this statement?

    “The use of feedback violated Parlophone’s strict recording policies, and so the band came to downplay it as an accident during recording. In actual fact it was present from the very first take.”

    1. Joe Post author

      EMI (not Parlophone – I’ll correct that) was very strict about microphone placements, abuse of equipment etc, so wouldn’t have tolerated some of the more outlandish experiments The Beatles were starting to do around this time (this began to change later on). It was therefore necessary to downplay the feedback rather than reveal it was intentional. I’ll see if I can dig up a quote from the band or the studio staff about it.

  25. john

    i’m sorry, i love ringo so much and i adore his drumming in so many songs. BUT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LISTEN TO HIS DRUMMING IN TAKES 1-6 AND STILL THINK IT’S HIS DRUMMING IN TAKE 7 AND THAT’S ALL THERE IS TO IT. every other time–as in subsequent live performances–it sounds just like takes 1-6. it is just completely beyond reason to think well he just went beyond himself in take 7 and never did it again (and worse to say, well i saw him mime it perfectly!). sorry, i’m an avowed anti-conspiricist, but this is the only real evidence there is and it points against ringo.

    1. Black Oyster Pearl

      This is getting a bit silly – let’s put this to bed.

      The Beatles songs would develop in the studio – from basic strumming/”working it all out” to final product. The drum parts were no different – they would evolve. Takes 1-6 see Ringo developing the drum part, feeling his way through the song, getting to learn what is best to play for the song. Take 6 is not vastly different than take 1, but it is played with more purpose and confidence. But, crucially, it wasn’t “right” for the song. That’s why the drum pattern changed [probably from Paul’s suggestion] to what we know and love today-not a massive change from Takes 1-6, as he is playing essentially the same pattern, but leading with his tom and then snare, as opposed to the earlier all snare pattern.

      Don’t forget the tape wasn’t rolling all the time-there was maybe a tea-break after take 6, and a time to discuss the song – hence the change to the drum pattern. Add a further period of rehearsal before the tape rolls again, and we have a new drum pattern “suddenly” appearing. This new pattern from tom to snare flows more than the “stuttering” pattern of just staying on the snare, allowing time to trade-off and be more inventive with the bell of the ride cymbal.

      As for the “simpler” live performances, Ringo did just that – kept it simple. Up front the other 3 had to have a simpler beat, so no messing around on the ride cymbal – just belt it out but keep essentially the same beat. Incidentally, he is playing “cross-sticks over the rim of his snare on the studio version – take my word for it this would NOT have been heard when performing live.

      Just because Take 7 is different to Take 1, and Ringo played a simpler version of the pattern live, doesn’t mean Ringo was incapable of playing it!

      1. robert

        Just because the drumming changes in take 6 to take 7 and saying Ringo didn’t play it is like hearing the different versions of Please Please Me and saying John must not have been playing on one of those. It’s called “arranging”.

  26. Ross Sakey

    Drumming Stuff is Interesting, who knows if it is Ringo or Paul ?
    However! As per the various Guitar Tutor type Postings on Youtube. I cand play the Chord Based Intro Riff no trouble at all. BUT! NOBODY seems to get the little trill at the end of the First Part of the Intro where John plays the “D” Chord Part of The Riff. I can do it by lifting the Chord off and doing a quick Trill, but you have to be hellishing quick to get the same Chord shape back on the fretboard in The “C” Fret Position for the Next part of the Riff.
    I’m sure it’s a trill, unless it is just a ghost like trill sound created as he moves his fingers to slide down a Tone to the “C” Position.

  27. Timothy

    It is Ringo playing. What’s wrong with you people. Even Paul said it was Ringo. Ringo played that beat with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes when they did “What I Say” by Ray Charles. He had been playing that beat years before “I Feel Fine”. Also Ringo is a left handed drummer who plays drums right handed. I am a,left handed drummer who plays drums right handed, meaning the kit is set up with the snare on the left side behind the bass drum and the ride tom is in front and above the snare drum, and the floor tom on the right. It doesn’t affect your playing if that’s the way you have always played.

  28. Graham Paterson

    Great Beatles hit and a real step forward musically. Basically a John Lennon song, it is a well known story how he came up with the feedback at the start. I also love Paul McCartney’s She’s A Woman on flip side.

  29. BeatleKen

    y does everyone wanna pick on Ringo. he’s a good drummer. he’s a BEATLE. they were all talented in there own right. great songs, great musicians,great time guaranteed for all.

  30. Lex Lewis

    All four Beatles put less effort into many of their live performances compared to their recordings. On Ed Sullivan in 65, during the bridge on Ticket to ride, John and Paul sing “she ought to do right me.” without sustaining the note. They do the same with “I feel fine”. I think they probably didn’t feel the same commitment for their live performances as for their recorded ones. Frankly, I can’t blame them, since there was so much screaming from the audience.

  31. Jack

    Hi folks!

    A great debate here, part of which unfortunately cannot be resolved with the limited information we have.

    The Beatles have this huge catalog of songs, and like any group with such a breadth of songs, other musicians occasionally sat in. Some partnerships were made obvious such as the participation of Billy Preston. Others apparently are state secrets which is stupid.

    I saw Bernard Purdie lecture live and he mentioned there were several drummers on Beatles records. Now for some reason, the suggestion that Ringo did not play on X record developed into an attitude of “That is a horrible thing, clearly Ringo was incompetent if he did not play on X record” or some such hangups. You can tell me exactly what the hangup is because I never understood it, all I know is that it is there. So Bernard played a tune or two, Paul played a tune or two, maybe someone else did. SO WHAT?

    Tthere is nothing left but to leave this plea: HEY PAUL AND RINGO, DARNIT WOULD YOU JUST PUBLISH WHO PLAYED ON DRUMS? There is no shame here for Ringo. Just surviving through John and Paul and the Beatles makes this laid back drummer a superman of a human being.

    I liken this situation to that created by Jimmy Page. Have you ever heard him say, “Yea I copied Taurus into my own song”? One of the richest, most renowned guitarists, yet his ego is colossal and the words cannot come out of his mouth that, heck, he was actually influenced by another musician? The only contention is that he refuses to admit it. He can make the whole darn “Stairway” contention go away with a handful of words, but he will not do it.

    Henley and Frey as well. They studied the Flying Burrito Brothers intensely, and completely copied their style, but created more pop hits that would make money. Do I ever hear these guys talking about their influences? No its always, “Me me me me me.”

    Here is an example of what TO DO: The Beach Boys. While songs were flowing out of Brian faster than humanly possible, the group was on the road touring. They did not have the time nor the energy to be on the recordings as well, so the “Clique” recorded many of them. This is public knowledge. Does anyone revile the Beach Boys for this? No and you hear Al Jardine readily talk about it. Now they are not great musicians, and they clearly did not practice enough. BTW I am a great fan so take the criticism as being loving and respectful of what they did do, okay?

    To the guy above who swears “I Feel Fine” is Bernard Purdie, yes, total dittos here. You can hear Purdie’s style a mile a way, its ridiculous on how individualistic he is. Listen to “The House That Jack Built” by Aretha, and it screams Purdie, even though there are no actual credits available.

    To non-musicians: Just about any drummer can quickly learn any part that is laid out for them. It is far easier than learning a piano part or guitar part. Most likely it would be no big deal for Ringo to learn a part once someone else composed it. So this is not an issue of “Did Ringo have the ability to play this?.” Ringo is fairly limited in his style but Purdie studied a world of styles, was fluent in all of them, and could immediately apply them. Purdie would immediately hear a unique rhythm in a song and be able to lay it down as such. He is the kind of guy to fulfill a vision of John and Paul that rock drummers simply could not create. The compositions of the mid to late 60’s were far out of their realm. While criticized for not having “proof” Purdie’s claims in general make perfect sense given the skills and the people involved.

    The Beatles themselves created this pseudo-disrespect for Ringo that would not otherwise exist. CLEAR IT UP PAUL AND RINGO. It is about time.

  32. Bill

    Let’s put this to rest once and for all. Bernard Purdie was a colossal ass with a colossal ego. The only Beatles recordings he was ever involved with were overdubs on Pete Best’s parts on some of the ’61 Hamburg recordings that were released by Atco in the U.S. This was confirmed many years ago.

  33. piston broke

    My questions – if Ringo was such an incompetent why wasn’t he thrown out the band in 1965? And why would the others use him on their solo albums? Or did they get session drummers but credit Ritchie?

    For the record, I Feel Fine is pretty simple to play. And Ringo’s far too good a drummer not to have been able to knock it off.

    1. John

      what is wrong with you people? he couldn’t play it in takes 1 through 6. he couldn’t play it live. he couldn’t play it on the BBC recordings. HE COULDN’T PLAY IT. it doesn’t mean anything else. it doesn’t mean ringo’s talents are belittled. it doesn’t mean the beatles should’ve kicked him out. it doesn’t mean other drummers shouldn’t give him credit. it just means there is no instance of ringo ever playing the song as in take 7, therefore very dubious that it was in fact ringo.

  34. Bongo

    I still get a kick how the U.S. Capitol Single of this song, along with the B-Side “She’s A Woman”, sounds so much different thanks to the Dexterized echo & reverb added to it. While it’s true that all the US mixes were dexterized, these 2 songs are most prevalent.

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