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The Beatles Replace Pete Best The Beatles Replace Pete Best
by The Ovi Team
2017-08-17 10:35:52
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17th Aug. 1962; The Beatles consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison replace the group's drummer "Pete Best" with Ringo Starr.

beatles01_400Best was never told why he was dismissed from The Beatles, as the only reason Epstein stated to him was, "The lads don't want you in the group anymore". Epstein subsequently claimed in his autobiography that Lennon, McCartney and Harrison thought Best "too conventional to be a Beatle, and though he was friendly with John, he was not liked by George and Paul." It has been documented (notably in Cynthia Lennon's book John) that while Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison usually spent their offstage time together in Hamburg and Liverpool, writing songs or socialising, Best generally went off alone. This left Best on the outside, as he was not privy to many of the group's experiences, references, and in-jokes.
 
On their first trip to Hamburg, The Beatles realised that the stage suits they wore could not stand up to the hours of sweating and jumping about on stage every night, so they all bought leather jackets, jeans and cowboy boots, which were much tougher. Best preferred to play in short sleeves, and so did not match the sartorial style of the group, even though he was later photographed wearing a leather jacket and jeans. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Sutcliffe were introduced to drugs in Hamburg. As they had to play for hours every night, they often took Preludin to keep themselves awake, which were given to them by German customers or by Astrid Kirchherr, whose mother bought them. Lennon would often take four or five, but Best always refused to join in.

Kirchherr asked The Beatles if they would mind letting her take photographs of them in a photo session, which impressed them, as other groups only had snapshots that were taken by friends. The next morning Kirchherr took photographs in a municipal park called "der Dom" which was close to the Reeperbahn, and in the afternoon she took them all—minus Best who decided not to go—to her mother's house in Altona. Best was described by Dot Rhone—McCartney's girlfriend at the time, who later visited Hamburg—as being very quiet, and never taking part in conversations with the group.
 
Best's popularity with fans was a source of friction, as many female fans considered Best to be the band's best-looking member. It has been said that Epstein became exasperated with Best's refusal to adopt the mop-top-style Beatle haircut as part of their unified look, although Best later claimed that he was never asked to change his hairstyle. In a 1995 BBC Radio Merseyside interview, Kirchherr explained: "My boyfriend, Klaus Voorman, had this hairstyle, and Stuart [Sutcliffe] liked it very, very much. He was the first one who really got the nerve to get the Brylcreem out of his hair, and asking me to cut his hair for him. Pete Best has really curly hair, and it wouldn't work."
 
Radio Merseyside presenter, Spencer Leigh, wrote a book chronicling Best's firing, suggesting that the other members, McCartney in particular, were jealous. During the Teenagers' Turn showcase in Manchester, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison walked on stage to applause, but when Best walked on, the girls screamed. Best was surrounded at the stage door afterwards by attentive females while the other members were ignored after signing a few autographs. McCartney's father, Jim McCartney, was present at the time and admonished Best by saying: "Why did you have to attract all the attention? Why didn't you call the other lads back? I think that was very selfish of you". Mona Best's take on her son's sacking, as told to British television in 1963 with Pete by her side: "From the point of clash of personalities, well, probably that may be it because Peter did have a terrific fan club, you know, compared to the others. [Interviewer: "Too good looking perhaps, eh?"] I'll leave that for other people to say but from my point of view we haven't come here to sort of throw sticks and stones at the boys because there is no really hard feeling. There was at first, but it's just the way that it was done that has annoyed us. If it had been done a bit more straightforward it would have been more to the mark." Martin was shocked that Epstein had sacked Best: "He seemed to be the most salable commodity as far as looks went. It was a surprise when I learned that they had dropped Pete. The drums were important to me for a record, but they didn’t matter much otherwise. Fans don’t pay particular attention to the quality of the drumming". Martin used session musician Andy White on the third session for "Love Me Do" on 11 September, and not Starr, who was Best's replacement.
 
Musically Best has been judged to have had a limited rhythmic vocabulary that was seen as holding the other three band members back from their collective musical growth. George Martin, as noted above, deemed Best's drumming to be inadequate for a record. As stated in Bob Spitz's 2005 biography, "All Pete could do was play 'Fours'..." a style of drumming that uses kick drum notes on every quarter note to hold down the beat. Spitz's book also contains engineer Ron Richards' account of his failed attempts to teach Best somewhat more complicated beats for different songs. Critic and Beatles historian Richie Unterberger described Best's drumming at the Decca session as "thinly textured and rather unimaginative" and said that Best "pushes the beat a little too fast for comfort". Unterberger thought Ringo Starr to be "more talented." Beatles critic Alan W. Pollack compared the Best, Starr, and Andy White versions of "Love Me Do" and concluded that Best was "an incredibly unsteady and tasteless drummer" on his version. For his part, Best has explained in an interview that variations in tempo were in accordance with how the song was being performed live at the time.

beatles02_400All the other Beatles went on record about the dismissal of Best. Paul McCartney said that "it was a strictly professional decision. If he wasn't up to the mark... then there was no other choice". He also pronounced Best to be "a bit limited." Lennon called the accusations of jealousy a "myth", claimed that Best was only recruited for the band because the Beatles needed a drummer to go to Hamburg, and said, "We were always going to dump him when we found a decent drummer." Harrison said that "Pete kept being sick and not showing up for gigs" and claimed that "I was quite responsible for stirring things up. I conspired to get Ringo in for good; I talked to Paul and John until they came round to the idea." For his part, Ringo said that "I felt I was a much better drummer than he was."
 
Lennon, McCartney and Harrison all later stated that they regretted the manner in which they sacked Best. Lennon admitted that "We were cowards when we sacked him." McCartney has stated that "I do feel sorry for him, because of what he could have been on to." Harrison said "We weren't very good at telling Pete he had to go" and "Historically it may look like we did something nasty to Pete and it may have been that we could have handled it better." Only Ringo has remained unapologetic: "I never felt sorry for Pete Best. I was not involved." Beatles authority Mark Lewisohn has concluded that "Despite his alleged shortcomings, it was still shabby treatment for Pete... the most underhand, unfortunate and unforgivable chapter in the Beatles' rise to monumental power."
 
Soon after Best was dismissed, Epstein tried to console him by offering to build another group around him, but Best turned him down. Feeling let-down and depressed, he sat at home for two weeks—not wanting to face anybody or answer the inevitable questions about why he had been sacked. Best joined Lee Curtis & the All Stars, which then broke off from Curtis and became Pete Best & the All Stars. They signed to Decca Records, and released the single "I'm Gonna Knock On Your Door", which was not a hit. Best later relocated to the United States along with songwriters Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington. As The Pete Best Four, and later as The Pete Best Combo (increasing their number to five) they toured the United States with a combination of 1950s songs and original tunes, recording for small labels, but had little success. They ultimately released an album on Savage Records, titled Best Of The Beatles; a play on Best's name, leading to disappointment for record buyers who expected a Beatles' compilation. The group disbanded shortly afterwards. Bickerton and Waddington were to find greater success as songwriters in the 1970s, writing a series of hits for the American female group, The Flirtations and Rubettes.

In 1964, Best appeared on American television as the mystery guest on I've Got A Secret, stating that he hailed from "West Derby in Lancashire". After his secret was revealed, he said simply that he had his own group now.


     
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