Paul McCartney as the Drummer

Paul McCartney as the Drummer in "Back in the U.S.S.R."


Ruben G. Vasquez

Beatles Historian

The Beatles: "Back In The USSR"

One notable example of The Beatles musical genius is the song “Back in the U.S.S.R.” from their iconic 1968 album, “The Beatles” (commonly known as the White Album). Despite Ringo Starr’s reputation as the band’s drummer, it was Paul McCartney who assumed the drumming duties for this particular track. We will explore the reasons behind Paul McCartney’s decision to play the drums on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and the significance of this choice within the context of the song’s composition and historical backdrop.

As an Amazon Affiliate, a commission may be earned from qualifying purchases.

The Drum Part: Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney, known primarily as the band’s bassist and a multi-instrumentalist, possessed an exceptional level of musical versatility. McCartney’s foray into drumming on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” exemplified his ability to step into different roles within the band and adapt to various musical styles. By taking on the drums, McCartney displayed his willingness to explore new territories and expand his musical horizons, showcasing his artistic range and proving his ability to excel in multiple facets of music creation.

The Impact of McCartney’s Drumming McCartney’s drumming in “Back in the U.S.S.R.” brought a unique dynamic to the song. His driving rhythm created a strong foundation for the other instruments, emphasizing the high-energy nature of the track. The powerful drumming, combined with McCartney’s lively vocals and the band’s harmonies, resulted in a lively and memorable performance.

Yes! Paul Played Drums

While McCartney’s drumming in “Back in the U.S.S.R.” was an exceptional one-off occurrence, it exemplified the Beatles’ collaborative spirit and willingness to explore new musical territories. It demonstrated McCartney’s resourcefulness as a musician and his ability to contribute beyond his primary role as a bassist. This instance further solidified the Beatles’ reputation as innovative musicians who consistently pushed the boundaries of popular music.

The Beach Boys, an American rock band, influenced The Beatles’ musical direction during the late 1960s. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” served as a playful homage to The Beach Boys’ signature sound and their 1963 hit “California Girls.” Inspired by the surf-rock genre, McCartney aimed to capture the energetic and rhythmic essence of this style by assuming the role of the drummer. This choice allowed him to infuse the track with the desired driving beat and lively atmosphere reminiscent of The Beach Boys’ music.

Ringo Starr's Temporary Departure: Leaving Three Beatles

During the recording sessions for “The White Album” album, tensions within the band were on the rise. Ringo Starr briefly left the group due to a bit of paranoia, that the other Beatles no longer valued his presence or musicianship, creating a void in the drummer’s position. Rather than delay the recording process or seek a replacement, McCartney stepped in to fill the gap. His decision to play the drums on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” was a practical solution that ensured the smooth continuation of the album’s production while maintaining the band’s creative momentum.

The Beatles were known for their collaborative approach to songwriting and recording. McCartney’s choice to play the drums on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” exemplified the band’s commitment to fostering an atmosphere of creative freedom and experimentation. By stepping outside his comfort zone and embracing a new instrument, McCartney contributed to the band’s collective vision and added his distinct musical touch to the song’s rhythm and overall composition.

Author's Summation

In the annals of Beatles history, one song stands out as a testament to the band’s unparalleled musical versatility – “Back In The USSR.” What makes this track even more remarkable is the surprising fact that Paul McCartney, known primarily as the bassist and vocalist, took on the role of drummer for this classic Beatles song. This departure from his usual role added a unique dimension to the song, showcasing McCartney’s extraordinary musical talents.

Written by Paul McCartney, “Back In The USSR” was inspired by Chuck Berry’s “Back In The USA,” paying homage to the rock ‘n’ roll pioneer. The song’s lively tempo and spirited lyrics evoke a sense of adventure, capturing the excitement of returning home.

During the recording sessions at Abbey Road, McCartney’s eagerness to infuse a distinct energy into the song led him to the drum kit. His mastery of rhythm became immediately apparent as he sat behind the drums, a position usually reserved for Ringo Starr. This shift allowed McCartney to experiment with the beat, adding his unique flair to the composition.

McCartney’s drum track on “Back In The USSR” was characterized by a blend of steady beats and energetic fills, driving the song forward with infectious enthusiasm. His transition from bass to drums demonstrated his remarkable adaptability as a musician, and his innate sense of timing ensured a seamless integration into the song’s structure.

While McCartney took the reins on drums, John Lennon and George Harrison lent their expertise on lead and electric guitars, respectively. This collaborative effort between the three remaining Beatles resulted in a synergy that defined the distinctive sound of “Back In The USSR.”

Producer George Martin played a pivotal role in capturing the essence of the song. His guidance and expertise in the studio contributed to the overall brilliance of the track, ensuring that each instrument, including McCartney’s drums, blended harmoniously.

Released as part of the iconic “White Album” in 1968, “Back In The USSR” quickly became a classic Beatles song. Its enduring popularity and McCartney’s unexpected turn as drummer continue to fascinate fans and music enthusiasts alike.

“Back In The USSR” stands as a testament to the Beatles’ ability to push musical boundaries. Paul McCartney’s venture into drumming for this particular song showcases his multifaceted talents and unwavering dedication to creating groundbreaking music. This unexpected twist in Beatles history remains a captivating chapter in the band’s legacy, forever etched in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Find Us:

© Copyright 2023. All Right Reserved

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x