The Beatles — or as they were known at the time, The Silver Beatles — invited Pete Best to join the band on August 12, 1960, shortly before their first club dates in Hamburg, Germany.
Two years later, Best was dismissed by Brian Epstein, the group’s manager, and replaced by Ringo Starr shortly before their first recording session at Abbey Road Studios.
Much ink has been spilled in the ensuing years as to why Best was ousted. Best himself says the reason is unclear to him. Theories have included producer George Martin’s negative opinion of Best’s drumming; that Best was too good-looking and his bandmates were jealous; and even that he was fired to get rid of Mona, Best’s managerial mother and owner of the Casbah Coffee Club, one of the venues where The Beatles got their start.
Wherever you may fall in the debate, it can’t be denied that Best was an integral part of The Beatles’ early rise to success and his two years of contributions, along with his development of the atom beat, shouldn’t be discounted.
What’s Best up to now?
In 1988, after 20 years of staying out of the public eye, Best performed with his brother Roag at a Beatles convention in Liverpool, which led to Best’s return to show business. The video above shows Best performing with the Beatles tribute band The Beats.
Best now records and tours worldwide with The Pete Best Band, often sharing drumming duties with Roag.
Here’s Best performing “Haymans Green” with his band on the British TV show, Loose Women.
And here’s Best with another tribute band, The AfterBeat, along with Tony Sheridan, another early collaborator with The Beatles.
Though Best was ousted from the band before they became wildly famous, he did receive ample royalties when The Beatles’ Anthology 1 came out in 1995, which included ten songs recorded with Best on the drums.
The songs were: “My Bonnie,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Cry for a Shadow,” “Searchin’,” “Three Cool Cats,” “The Sheik of Araby,” “Like Dreamers Do,” “Hello Little Girl,” “Bésame Mucho,” and “Love Me Do.”
Above is audio from The Beatles’ famous (infamous?) audition for Decca Records,which took place on New Year’s Day in 1962. The band auditioned 15 songs, including three originals, but was rejected by the label, which told Epstein in a letter that “guitar groups are on their way out” and that the band had “no future in show business.”
Some critics dismiss Best’s drumming based on the Decca audition, though in The Beatles’ oral history Anthology, Paul McCartney has said that they were all very nervous and that was reflected in the performance: “Listening to the tapes I can understand why we failed the Decca audition. We weren’t that good, though there were some quite interesting and original things.”