Ringo Starr reminded everyone Thursday night why the Beatles never let their drummer near a microphone.
Starr, 67, stood front and center of his backup band and vocally scratched and clawed his way through a dirge-like multiple-song set on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, leaving viewers aghast at how truly awful the Liverpudlian's lead-singing skills are.
But a Gallup poll after the show revealed that 98 percent of viewers were just happy to see the former Beatle doing a musical act and not sitting on a couch talking nonsense, as he tends to do on such yak-fests. There is a 95-point margin of error, plus or minus, in the Gallup polling system, so readers are advised to believe what they want.
At its best, Starr's flat, note-crucifying voice was never acceptable, but age has ravaged it even more. Fortunately for him, his drumsticks took him further than his one-time goal of running a hairdresser's shop. Certainly, Ferguson wouldn't have booked him to show America's insomniacs how to wash, rinse, cut and curl.
The well-groomed Starr didn't so much look like an over-the-hill rocker with his tinted sunglasses, but a crooner working for tips in a Holiday Inn Express lobby on New Year's Eve.
During the Late Late Show performance, Starr strummed an air guitar periodically, closing his eyes and appearing to be lost in a groovy musical moment -- or perhaps stroking out -- again, making fans glad he hid behind his drums all those glorious Beatles' years.
In one camera shot, Ferguson sat on his stage desk bopping like a 13-year-old. Meanwhile, the audience in the tiny studio held up its end of the deal by responding to cues to applaud and cheer mindlessly, the tradeoff they make for the free tickets, even as they wonder who the hell that is on stage.
But at least the artificial enthusiasm kept Starr going, unlike the Live With Regis and Kelly abomination of a morning show when he walked off after not being granted a four-minute spot to do the title track of his horrendous new album Liverpool 8.
Contacted about Starr's Thursday-night set, fellow Beatle Paul McCartney said, "It's too bad what a fellow will do for a buck these days. Maybe Frank Caliendo can fill in for Ringo from now on. He couldn't do any worse."