Watch Ringo Get an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee School of Music

From Berklee:

Berklee College of Music honored pop culture icon Ringo Starr with an honorary degree during a tribute concert and ceremony held in person on Thursday. The event, which took place on campus at the David Friend Recital Hall in Boston, featured performances from Berklee students, introductory remarks from President Erica Muhl, and an acceptance speech from the Beatles legend himself.

Starr had been awarded the Doctorate in Music from Berklee at the 2022 Commencement ceremony in early May, but was not able to join his fellow honorees and the graduating class for the festivities, instead addressing the audience in a pre-recorded statement. The conferral ceremony on Thursday formalized the honor and provided Starr with an opportunity to thank the institution.

“It’s a huge honor to have and accept this award,” reflected Starr. “In a way [my life] is like a dream fairytale. I wanted to be a drummer…it was my big dream, and my dream is still unfolding.”

In an impromptu moment during his speech, Starr stepped behind the drum kit to play a couple of standard patterns that he asks students to attempt in their first lesson. “If they can’t do that,” Starr related, “I politely hold them by the arm and say, ‘maybe piano is for you’.”

The event opened with a piano medley of Starr’s classic songs and vocal performances, including “Photograph” and “With a Little Help From My Friends,” followed later by full band renditions of “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Not Enough Love in the World,” all arranged and performed by Berklee students. Gregg Bissonette, drummer and touring member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band and longtime friend of the rock & roll great, conveyed a message of congratulations to Starr before welcoming him to the stage.

Berklee President Erica Muhl then took the podium for the official presentation of the degree. In her introduction, President Muhl lauded the indelible legacy of Starr’s life in music and shared heartfelt statements from those closest to Starr, including Eagles guitarist and brother-in-law Joe Walsh and fellow Beatles legend Paul McCartney.

“Over the course of a career that has literally changed the direction of rock music multiple times, Ringo has been hailed as one of the most innovative, distinctly musical, and influential drummers in the world,” praised Muhl. “Ringo hasn’t just contributed to our modern concept of a rock & roll drummer; he is the original architect of the genre-busting foundations upon which so many legends now stand.”

Video and photos courtesy of Berklee School of Music.

Photos by Kelly Davidson.