Many bands have made their mark on the world, but none like The Beatles. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Star are the members that we recognize the most. What most people have forgotten is that before Ringo Starr came along, Pete Best was the band’s drummer. Here is the sad story behind the forgotten fifth member of The Beatles.
1960 Through 1962
From 1960 until 1962, Pete Best was The Beatle’s highly talented drummer. Shortly after the group’s debut session in Abbey Road Studios, he was pushed out of the band. But why? Because The Beatles are so iconic, many stories have come up about Pete. There are also many conflicting reports. Whatever the real reason was, he missed out on the fame and fortune that his former bandmates achieved.
Pete’s Early Life
Pete was born in the Indian state of Madras in 1941. He spent much of his early years living in Bombay, before moving to Liverpool when he was 4 years old. His father, Donald Best, was an engineer before serving in World War II. Pete never got to meet his father because he died during the war.
A Budding Musician
Pete took up both the guitar and the drums at a young age. Pete always wanted to be a teacher growing up, but that all changed when he joined a band. In the ’50s, his mother set up a coffee shop in their basement. She called it the Casbah Coffee Club, and his band, the Black Jacks, played there often. This gave him a chance to hone his talent. The group that was playing at the coffee before The Black Jacks, The Quarrymen, returned to the coffee shop. After hearing Pete play, they asked him to join their band. They changed the name of the band to The Silver Beatles, and they were lined up to play a string of concerts in Hamburg, Germany.
The band’s tour was a success. They were only supposed to be on the road for a month, but that turned into four months. This meant that Pete’s plan of becoming a teacher went out of the window. He says that he loved being in the band, and even though it was tow years of hard work, they achieved a lot, and Pete loved every minute of it.
A Record Deal
The group renamed themselves again; this time, they called themselves, The Beatles. The landed a record deal with Polydor in Germany, which was huge for the band. Pete says that during those days, every day was an adventure. At the time, the group wasn’t living in the lap of luxury. He says that they stayed in horrible sleeping quarters on the road that had no lights and no doors. The rooms looked like converted coal bunkers with beds. In the middle wall, there was a hole. This gave Pete and Paul McCartney a chance to talk.
Pete says that his mother deserves a lot of credit for The Beatles’ success. The band played at the Casbah 76 times. He says that his mother’s foresight for the Liverpool music scene was incredible. She also helped the group get gigs at their most famous venue, The Cavern. It was there that Brian Epstein discovered them, and in 1961, he offered them a contract that would make their career explode.
In the early days of The Beatles, the band was made up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete, George Harrison, and bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe. Stuart left the band in 1961 to chase his dreams of being an artist, and died just a year later. Two months after the death of their former bandmate, The Beatles went to the studio with producer George Martin, where they recorded their first single, Love Me Do. By then, they had signed a deal with EMI Records.
Pete Is Out
Without Pete knowing, the band brought in Ringo Starr to play drums, and they left it up to their manager, Brian Epstein to deliver the bad news. Brian told him, “Pete, I don’t know how to tell you this. The boys want you out, and it’s already been arranged.” Brian says that he wasn’t happy about the shakeup in the band, because they were just developing themselves as personalities.
The Release of Their First Single
When Love Me Do was released in the U.K., poor Pete had nothing to do with it. When the official track was released, Pete’s contribution was replaced by Ringo Starr’s. The band went on to make some of the highest-selling albums of all time including Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road. They earned plenty of awards, and their worldwide album sales total stands at 800 million.
What Became Of Pete?
Pete joined another band and found some success; however, he never got over his demons. When he saw how The Beatles were taking over the world, he tried to take his own life. His brother, Rory, and his mother managed to save him just in time. After his brush with death, he gave up on music in 1968. He decided to focus on his wife, Kathy, and his two daughters, Bonita and Beba. He landed a job in the civil service as a training manager. In 1988, Pete played in a band with his younger brother, Roag, at a Liverpool hotel. It was only supposed to be a one-night thing, but instead, Pete decided to resume his music career full-time. He got a significant boost when his early songs with The Beatles appeared on the Anthology 1 album in the mid-’90s. He had no idea that the film was being released, and that he would be featured on it. So why did The Beatles fire, Pete? It is believed that George Martin wanted a more experienced drummer.