Thursday, September 8, 2011

PETE BEST: "I WAS A BEATLE"






To the die-hard Beatles fans,we all know that Ringo Starr wasn't the original drummer in the band we all loved.But to others who were neither a fan of the Beatles or rock music,Pete Best is somewhat unheard to most of them,unless you were a Liverpool native,I guess,where our beloved fab four were known as "saints" and "local heroes" or perhaps to many,"god-like status".

The life and times of Pete Best with the group was shrouded with mystery.He joined the Beatles before they got into fame,at the time they were still playing in clubs and doing local gigs at their hometown of Liverpool,England.He did made a recording with the band in which they first auditioned with Decca Records  wherein they were flatly refused and rejected by the company.I guess Decca regretted it later on when they turned them down not knowing that a phenomenon would come in the not so distant future,sealing the band's now legendary status.Best's recordings with the Beatles[ mostly demos which were made around 1961] later surfaced on the Anthology 1 album which was released in 1995 and debuted straight to number one on the Billboard 200 charts,where they say Pete got a share of the royalties the other Beatles had from the album sales.

(photo:the Beatles John Paul and George with Pete Best on the extreme left)


Actually when Pete was in the group,the Beatles were already famous locally on their hometown of Liverpool.According to Bob Spitz's 2005 book the Beatles,Pete Best was so popular among the crowd that their road manager Neil Aspinall had to steer him away from the lovely ladies while the other three had to wait on their touring bus as Neil,anxiously trying to pull him out of the crowd's adoring grip.

So was  Pete Best outgrowing the band that the other three decided to get rid of him?  Spitz's book accurately describes that during the band's immense popularity in Liverpool-it was Pete Best who got the crowd's adoration and had the girls dropping dead on his feet and not Paul McCartney who later on became the cute Beatle we all know today.So was it jealousy among the band? Spitz's book however,was marred with criticisms regarding the inaccuracies of the dates and years especially when he labeled the classic photos of the fab four.

I was a bit lucky to have a friend from Liverpool and had some first hand info about the Beatles' early days.Im not mentioning his name here as a respect to his privacy but I always call him grandpa not only as a means of  respect but I do feel like he's my real grandfather.He used to be neighbors with Paul McCartney before the fab four came to fame.I think its really nice to have infos from other people outside the Beatles' books.One story I heard from him on why Pete was sacked is because Pete had a fight with John Lennon's girlfriend at the time- well Im not  sure if this was Cynthia--the mother of Julian who we know as the eldest Beatle kid and in contradiction to what Bob had stated on his book,Pete Best was an excellent drummer with my 'grandpa' in Liverpool even telling me that he used to watch him play with the fabs at the Cavern.Well at least Bob was right when he mentioned the constant booing Ringo had when he first played with the band on guess where? The story circulated at the time that when Ringo was introduced by the Beatles as their new drummer the audience was angry and shouted curses asking where the hell Pete was,"Where's Pete? You traitors! We want Pete!".The crowd was chanting "Pete forever Ringo never!" which made Ringo uncomfortable at the start.Others support the change and there was a huge debate on who was the better drummer with the fabs,was it Pete or Ringo?

Ringo on the other hand,was Liverpool's most sought after drummer,and he would play on all the Beatles albums(unless otherwise noted) from their debut album Please Please Me in 1963 up to their last album Let It Be in 1970,the year the band eventually broke up.

There is still no clear answer up to this day on why Pete Best was sacked,others claim that Pete's hair was wavy and couldn't be turned into a mop top thats why he no longer fit with the band when the Beatles changed their hairstyle.Other books claim he was not a good drummer and would tangle on Paul's bass thats why he was dismissed.Whatever it is,nobody knows.

Brian Epstein-the band's manager was asked by the other three to do the 'dirty work' and tell him that his bandmates doesn't want him with the group anymore.Pete later on stated that when he got home after hearing the bad news from Epstein he broke down and wept.With his dismissal however,the Beatles would then be forever known as John,Paul,George and Ringo.

(photo:the cover of the Beatles' 1995 album Anthology 1 where the photo of Pete Best was ripped off and with Ringo's head inserted in its place)

His life after the Beatles was quite a sad one though he managed to form various groups:Pete Best And The All Stars,Pete Best Four, and the Pete Best Combo but none of them were successful.It was said that he attempted suicide at the height of Beatlemania after seeing his former bandmates dominate the entire globe but was talked out of it by his mother Mona.He was reportedly so depressed that he never wanted to talk about his association with the Beatles when he was approached by Beatle biographers.

He later on appeared on David Letterman's show in 1982,and talked about his life with the Beatles.It seems he got over it all by joking and doing the mock crying in which everybody had laughed on. But I guess he's still crying on the inside coz his eyes can tell how bitter he was for being sacked by the greatest rock band in the world.Is it his fate coz the Beatles were destined to have Ringo as their drummer? Nobody knows.Dave did console him on the show by saying "Im sorry it didn't work out for you" while shaking his hand.


(photo:Pete Best in 2005)

In the latter days,Pete Best did show up on Beatle festivals and I guess his wounds were slowly healing itself.

Few people who knew the Beatles may not know Pete Best but to die hard Beatles fans he seem to be what they christened as "the forgotten Beatle" along with Stuart Sutcliffe.A 1994 film about the Beatles' early days in Hamburg,Germany called BACKBEAT featured Pete Best and original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe,but the film was more focused on the latter person.


(c) Keith Vernon Adagio

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