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Q: What Happened to Original Beatles Drummer Pete Best?

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A: Pete Best had been the original drummer for an upstart Liverpool group called the Silver Beetles when he was sacked in favor of another, more experienced drummer named Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr.

As fate would have it, the Silver Beetles changed their name to the Beatles and went on to become the best-known group in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. It happened like this: Best’s mom, who ran the Casbah Club in Liverpool, was the Silver Beetles’ initial booking agent, and landed them a two-month gig in Hamburg. But while in Germany, the young group happened upon Ringo, and when they returned to London both Paul McCartney and George Harrison asked their new manager, Brian Epstein, to get rid of Best.

So on August 23, 1962, poor Pete found out that he was no longer a Beatle; and although he later sued Ringo for libel, he received nothing for his early years with the band. Today he tours with his own group (he even put out an album under the deceptive title Best of the Beatles) and, although he freely discusses his dismissal, he doesn’t accept the prevailing theories on why the decision was made (Ringo’s superior drumming, McCartney’s jealousy, his own unreliability, etc.).

For the Beatles, there’s no arguing that things worked out for the best; but for Best himself, things could’ve been better.

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  • Marcel

    Pete best is on tour

  • zingzing

    i’ve heard different reasons for best’s dismissal. like he was the one all the girls liked, and not in the way that all the girls liked ringo. so he got all the play. also, i think it was george martin that wanted them to get rid of best. he never really fit in with the rest anyway, being a little aloof (more so than george, i guess). the beatles knew and hung out with ringo before he was in the band.

  • http://spatulaforum.blogspot.com/ Nik

    I understand Best does get a nice little windfall in royalties from the Beatles Anthology CDs, which include some of his drumming work.

  • Stu Sutcliffe

    Not completely accurate. They were called the BEATLES while Pete was still with them and the Beatles knew Ringo, and Rory Storm, prior to Hamburg.

  • Rich

    To clarify – Mona best had nothing to do with the Beatles booking in Hamburg. it was arranged by their manager at the time, Alan Williams. The Beatles returned to Liverpool, not London, from Hamburg. They didn’t relocate to London until 1963 and finally, Pete was fired on August 16th and not on the 23rd.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, Pete Best’s drumming was far superior to Ringos. Just take a listen to “Besame Mucho” on “Anthology 1″, The Beatles Polydor recordings featuring Tony Sheridan or any of the tracks from “The Pete Best Combo: Beyond the Beatles” CD for solid evidence of that fact.

    Before Ringo joined, Beatlemania was already in full bloom in Liverpool. Pete was THE most popular member at that time which helped them get noticed by Brian Epstein and subsequently signed to EMI. All Ringo did was join an enormously popular band and ride the gravy train to fame and fortune. The Beatles were already signed without any contribution from him.

    Ringo Starr is one of the luckiest people in show business.

    I find it interesting that the prevailing attitude for so many hardcore Beatle fans is that Pete Best was a failure and unsuccessful. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    He was a member of arguably the biggest band of all time. He contributed to a number one album in 1995 (“The Beatles Anthology 1″) which sold millions and made him a millionaire. He has authored or co-authored several books (“Beatle! The Pete Best Story”,”The Beatles: The True Beginnings”, etc.) All of these books sold relatively well. His own production company produced an excellent documentary (“Pete Best of The Beatles.”) which aired on PBS and sold considerably well on DVD. His excellent sixties recordings are still in print (“The Pete Best Combo: Beyond The Beatles”) He also contributed to TWO Beatles hit singles,”Ain’t She Sweet/Nobody’s Child”(#19 July 18, 1964) and “My Bonnie/The Saints”(#26 February 8 1964.) And Bear Family Records released an amazing two disc set containing all of his Polydor recordings with the Beatles featuring Tony Sheridan.

    WOW! I wish I could be as unsuccessful as Pete Best!!!!

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    I saw Pete Best in The Famous Grapes (in Liverpool) back in 1984. I was not a wild-eyed fan looking for an autograph, so I left him and his mates alone. The main thing was he seemed perfectly cool with the way fate handed him this twist of bad (or good) luck, acting like one of the guys having a pint.

    By the way, this was the pub where he was told by Brian Epstein that he was no longer a Beatle. Strange, huh?

  • http://www.club54.ca Gene Quondamatteo

    The Pete Best Band will be performing at Club 54 Nightclub in Burlington, Ontario, Canada on Wed., June 13. It’ll be a fabulous show! For details http://www.club54.ca.

  • Anonymous

    I always wondered why Pete didn’t take better advantage of his association with the Beatles during the 60s. You would think that someone big would have wanted to work with him. He only seemed to get fly by night record labels (Savage records for instance) to put his music out. It doesn’t seem like it would have taken a rocket scientist to have promoted him properly. How hard could it have been to get a hit record out of him. Don Kirshner did it for the Monkees and the Archies for cryin’ out loud!!!!

    Frankly, I’m surprised that even to this day nobody of any major influence in the music industry hasn’t asked him to record on a song. He could drum on an Oasis track or perhaps a producer like Rick Rubin would want to use him as a guest on someone’s album. Heck, he could have done the drumming for the “Backbeat” movie soundtrack. Yet, as far as I know nobody has ever approached him to do anything. You would think that the publicity alone would motivate someone to want to use him.

    I’ve seen his band in concert and he’s great! I don’t understand the aversion to the guy. He was a bloody Beatle, how cool is that?!!!!

  • Bill

    Capitol (yes, Capitol) released The Pete Best Combo, under the name Peter Best, doing a song called “Carousel of Love” in 1967. This was amazingly in tune with what was going on in music at the time, and considering it was not the Beatles, compared favorably to contemporary releases like Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields. It had two different flip sides which were both very good. But when even that excellent record didn’t catch on, the Pete Best Combo called it quits. At least it shows that he is capable of good work, especially linked with the right band members.

  • John

    It looks like their may be some closure to everything soon. Pete has extended an olive branch to McCartney.”After more than 40 years of silence between them, the forgotten Beatle, Pete Best, wants to bury the hatchet with Paul McCartney and chat about the old times.”

    Here’s the link to one of the many articles that were printed yesterday

    Pete sounds very happy and has come to terms with the sacking after all these years. I hope that McCartney will take him up on his offer.

    One thing though. I wonder why it took Pete 40 years to try and contact one of The Beatles? I’ve often thought that if I had been in his situation, the first thing I would have done was call up one of the Beatles and ask,”What’s going on here?” He must have had all of their phone numbers. He knew where they lived. They presumably were all friends. Yet, he just moved on and didn’t even try to talk it out with any of them.

    I always found that strange.

  • John

    “It certainly wasn’t Best’s drumming (that got him sacked from The Beatles.) Kasim Sulton, Meat Loaf’s musical director and a former member of Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, said this: “It is generally acknowledged among musicians that Pete was the best drummer on the Liverpool scene.”

  • Wiliam

    What happened to Pete Best? Well, he and his group the Pete Best Combo went on to record some of the best garage rock in the sixties! It’s a shame that his band was not properly promoted. They had the potential to climb straight up to the top of the hit parade had they been given half a chance. “Why Can’t I Fall In Love With You,” “Let’s Stomp,” “Boys,” ” Castin’ My Spell On You” and “I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door”, recorded for Decca, are unknown pop gems.

    Instead, people hate the guy for no good reason. It is worth seeking out these rare tracks that are only available on obscure british rock compilations. They are a pleasure to discover along with many other unknown british bands. Wayne Gibson & The Dynamic Sound, Jason Eddie, The Accent, Lee Curtis & The All-Stars, Brian Howard & The Silhouettes, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Peter & Gorden, The Drag Set, George Bean and The Pete Best Combo are all virtually unknown in this country. It’s too bad too. These groups are all a joy to listen to!

  • http://neil richard bickford

    Though the great drummer he was thought to be for his moment in time he created 3 big problems for himself and the others :
    #1 near his end he was not showing up for gigs or otherwise showing up late which angered the others mates .
    #2 He refused to comb his hair down like the others .
    #3 he would not play the same drum lines consistantly whilst recording and when asked to play a certain passage on drums he would take it upon himself not to do so .

  • JC Mosquito

    Greatgawda’mighty – here we go again. You can count me out.

  • Just a Drummer

    Ever wonder if there was something about ol Petey hisself that made people stay clear of him?
    I mean if he was that good, then one would have thought he would have half a chance. Maybe the bloke was just a pain in the arse. Besides whats he got to bitch about, seems as if he done really well for hisself off of the Beatles name and sweat.

    Wrote 3 books with BEATLE’S in the title……even a blind squirrel will buy that and he could make a few quid.

    Gimme a break, after all he’s just a drummer and not on a par with a Keith Moon I don’t think.

    Get over it mate.

  • oliver

    Bill, you mention the Carousel Of Love single have two different flipsides. The only flipside I am aware of is WANT YOU on the US-single Capitol 2092.
    Can you tell me what the other flipside is, and does it have the same Capitol 2092 number ?

  • Dave Grohl

    “First of all, Pete Best’s drumming was far superior to Ringos.”

    Just listen to Anthology 1 and then listen to all the records with Ringo on and you will see that Richard Starkey is a far superior drummer to Pete Best. One of the most influential drummers of all time. Pete Best hasn’t influenced anybody/

  • http://www.petebest.com/ Dan

    I’ll tell you who Pete Best influenced; Ringo Starr.

  • frank burns

    He just didn’t get along with the rest, where is the mystery in that?

  • Arthur negus

    In a nutshell, the beatles were booked to go to hamburg and didnt have a drummer, pete was asked and next day they went..
    John lennon has stated on serveral occasions that pete best was not any good and wanted him out as soon as he they could get a better drummer, pete best claimed he was sick quite often when they were in hamburg and ringo had stepped in on a few ocassions.
    Pete got in the band due to comming from a middle class family, he could afford a drum kit, his parents owned a big house with a cafe underneath and the beatles could practice there.
    Pete was also not a very outgoing person and didnt fit in with there image really.
    In a way he was done a favour,, becuase of he had stayed in the bealtes they may never have became famous and pete wouldnt have made over a million quid out of anthology.
    Petes band never made it in the 1960s despite many attemps at fame, he has lived off the antholgy payout sisnce he got it, he doesnt make a penny out of his other work he did in the 1960s.
    Pete even released an album called the best of the beatles:) and has rode the bandwagon since, people may pay to see him now but that is just because of his connection with the beatles, his money was made becuase of what the beatles became without him in the band.
    Ringo was already a drummer in a band and was earning a living from it, the band were -playing 6 nights a week in butlins, they had been to hamburg and were well known in liverpool.
    Ringo left that band to jjoin the bealtes as he liked them, was known to them and was a good drummer.
    Pete was not a bad drummer, stu sutlciffe couldnt even play an instrument or sing but was in the band due to being a friend of lennons..
    Without mccartney im pretty sure the beatles would not have become what they are, he was the true driving force, he could sing, play drums, guitar, piano plus was a competent writer of songs even though he was younger than lennon.
    johns loud mouth often got them into scrapes..
    We all like to think good of people and when they die or miss the chance we cheer for the underdog or put them up on a pedlestool, but the truth is pete best was kicked out for not being that good for the bealtes and not that good for himself..
    he was in the right place at the right time thats how he got in the band

  • Kent

    I think it would be cool if Ringo brought him up to double drum some songs during one of his All Starr tour shows or Paul on one of his shows, even if only for a few songs. Pete says that he and Ringo were friends back in the day and of course he considered Paul a friend too.

  • Owen

    “Legend Drummer Buddy Rich”,was asked once his opinion of Ringo as a Drummer,he stated “Ringo as just a Time Keeper”.
    The difference between Ringo and Pete as a drummer is nothing,their much the same, both were just average drummers.
    Pete best,well known fact,on stage Paul couldnt handle girls screaming through him at a drummer behind him,and Pete’s good looks,and George could’nt handle the fact was Pete cooler than him,so they got rid of him,”as stated previous,Ringo is probably one of the luckiest people in show business”

  • koel

    The “Carousel of Love” 45 on Capitol is by an Australian singer/ songwriter named Peter Best, not the former Beatles drummer of the same name.

  • Azrael

    Just to be factual here, Pete Best was NOT the band’s original drummer. That was Tommy Moore.

  • Katya

    It could easily be a jealousy issue, Best looked like a young James Dean, I guess he didnt have enough of ‘the London look’ lol

  • harmom

    AS luck would have it I have Pete’s12 string Johnson acoustic guitar I got it through his cousin in California.