Welcome to this week’s #askNat. Last week I was able to get to two questions from Ken Weber of New Jersey (see here) and this week I’m addressing his third, where he writes:
Has there ever been any contact between Pete Best and the surviving Beatles?
Another good question, Ken. Pete was drummer for The Beatles between August 1960 and August 1962, just before making their first record for EMI, the “Love Me Do” single. The decision was made to fire Pete after producer George Martin expressed dissatisfaction with his drumming. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison have agreed that they could have handled firing him more tactfully, since they gave the sacking duties to their manager Brian Epstein instead of confronting Pete themselves.
Pete has acknowledged that while playing drums for Lee Curtis and the All Stars, after being dismissed from The Beatles, that he played on the same bill with his former bandmates on two occasions. One was at the Cavern Club where his group was second on the bill to The Beatles. The other was at the Mersey Beat Pollwinners Concert. On both occasions, the All Stars were on just prior to The Beatles and they had to pass each other face-to-face, yet nothing was said.
Pete sued The Beatles for defamation of character after a February 1965 interview with Playboy where John said “Ringo used to fill in sometimes if our drummer was ill – with his periodic illness.” From the same interview Ringo Starr added: “He took little pills to make him ill.” From the lawsuit, Pete won an out-of-court settlement although damages awarded were considerably less than what he sought. In 1965 at the height of the success of The Beatles, Pete tried to commit suicide, but was talked out of it by his mother Mona and his younger brother, Rory.
Pete relocated to America with his later group, The Pete Best Combo and at one point was offered a chance to audition for a new television series that was to be called The Monkees. Can you imagine Pete Best being a Monkee? Eventually with no luck of success in his music career, Pete left the business without any further documented contact with The Beatles.
In 1988, Pete with his half-brother Roag, formed The Pete Best Band and have toured off and on, to include many Beatles conventions up to the present. For further details about the life of Pete Best, I encourage you to check out his autobiography Beatle! The Pete Best Story by himself and Patrick Doncaster (1994) and the book The Beatles: The True Beginnings (2003) by himself, his half-brothers Rory and Roag Best. I’ve included Amazon links for these books below.
In 1995, Pete was awarded an undisclosed seven figure sum for his part in the Beatles Anthology 1 2-CD set (somewhere between £1 and £4 million). His material on this release included a few Hamburg recordings with The Beatles and Tony Sheridan in 1961, as well as material from their Decca audition of New Years Day, 1962.
Ken, thanks for another great question for this week. Thanks also to everyone for reading and as always, if you have something to add, I invite you to let me hear from you in the comments section below.
Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:
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Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase music or literature related to this post:
1) Beatle!: The Pete Best Story – 1994 autobiographical account of Pete Best in his own words with co-author Patrick Doncaster.
2) Anthology 1 – 1995 2-CD compilation of out-takes and extras from the earliest beginnings of The Beatles up to early 1965. Includes several tracks with Pete Best on drums.
3) Lost Decca Sessions – Compilation CD of the complete Decca Audition of Jan. 1, 1962 where the group was denied a record contract. Pete Best was drummer on these 15 recordings.
4) The Beatles: The True Beginnings – another more recent (2003) account of the earliest days of The Beatles with Pete Best on drums authored by Pete Best himself with his brother Rory Best and half-brother Roag.
5) Beyond the Beatles 1964-1966 – After his 2-year stint with The Beatles from 1960-1962 Pete Best formed the Pete Best Combo and this 1996 import CD contains a generous 28 tracks by the group.