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Pete Best finally speaks out over bitter sacking from The Beatles

by Pierce King. Published Wed 04 Feb 2009 13:12, last updated: 04/02/09
Pete playing drums at the Casbah Club
Pete playing drums at the Casbah Club

The original 'fifth Beatle' Pete Best has spoken out about his bitter heartbreak at being dropped by The Fab Four just before they hit the big time ahead of his new album.

Pete, 67, is a world-famous music legend, not for what he managed to achieve - but for what he missed out on for the sake of a few weeks.

He was the drummer famously sacked by The Beatles in 1962, in the month before they shot into the stratosphere. He was left on the launch pad, sticks in hand.

It's rock history now, but suddenly the Pete versus Ringo debate is firing again after Sir Paul McCartney popped up on a US radio show last week to offer his version of the event.

Macca said: "Ringo was in another band, and we just fell in love with his drumming, that's the truth.

"One night he sat in for Pete, and we just went... wow!"

Pete recalled the thousands of nights spent agonising over why he was suddenly dropped without explanation and against a huge backlash from their Liverpool home-grown fans at the Cavern.

He said: "Maybe somebody just thought Ringo sounded better than Pete, maybe it was as simple as that.

"What really hurt then, and still hurts now, is that no one had the courage or the decency to tell me what they were plotting.

"It would have been nice if just once, in these last 47 years, Sir Paul had picked up a phone to make that call and explain it as that, just as one old mate to another."

It could be argued that on the other hand, he could have picked up his own phone and called Sir Paul.

"No way," he says. "We have never spoken a word since that day, and what would we talk about now? He's a superstar, a world icon, he doesn't lead the everyday life that ordinary people do, so what would we have in common?

"I have no regrets. You can lead a rich life without millions in the bank and mansions in the country."

Pete has finally put down on the record his own feelings about the split, and the dream abruptly snatched away from him, in a song on his new CD by the Pete Best Band.

It's a track called Broken. A bitter-sounding lament about betrayal, deceit and tears behind closed doors while you put on a macho face to the world.

The album is being launched this month in the Casbah Club, the Liverpool coffee bar opened by Pete's mum Mona with her winnings from the 1954 Derby.

People think that The Beatles story started at The Cavern, but it didn't. The real beginning was in this cramped basement where the city's fledgling beat groups used to play to 200 fans inside while 1,000 more crowded into the back garden.

The Beatles tour buses don't stop here. Only diehard fans visit by appointment, to be shown around by Pete's brothers Roag and Rory.

They see the original Dansette record player propped on a stool, the upright piano the bands thumped away at, the ceilings painted by Lennon and McCartney, and there, chiselled into one wall, a single name... John.

It's where Pete still practises, amid the memories. Hayman's Green, his album's title, is the address of the street outside.

Pete is a grandfather of four now, but he's still recognisable as that moodily handsome, leather-jacketed kid who attracted his own following of adoring groupies back then.

It has also been argued that he was just too handsome and deemed a threat to Paul and John.

Pete joined another band and struggled for two more years, but with a young family to support he abandoned showbiz for regular wages. First in a bakery. Then working in a local Job Centre for 20 years.

Standing by him all the way was Cathy, the girl he had spotted from behind his drumkit as she danced in The Cavern, the girl who married him a year after The Beatles sacked him, the girl who gave him his two daughters.

"We were living in a two-up two-down by the end of the 1960s after The Beatles had conquered the world, but none of that ever mattered to Cathy," he says.

"Let's face it, if she was ever going to leave me, it would have been the day I became an ex-Beatle, but she chose to stay.

"I fell in love with her from the start and I still love her as deeply today. I idolise her.

I only wish I could be given another 45 years to spend on this planet with the same girl."

But it wasn't always easy. Pete suffered depression and even made a bungled suicide attempt - turning on the gas fire and blocking the doors before he was rescued by his brothers.

"There have been times when we were struggling to pay the bills, when we were deep in the red and had to borrow from relatives," he adds.

"Then news about a Beatle would pop up on TV and Cathy would say, 'Look, if only you were still one of them.' Then we'd laugh it off. You can live in a terraced house with a loving wife like Cathy and you're in a palace with your princess."

It was Cathy and mum Mona who convinced him to pick up his music career once more.

He played at a Beatles convention in 1988 to a rave reception, and when he came off stage they said: "You're heading back into showbiz."

Now the Pete Best Band tour the world, for up to six months a year. As much as old rockers can manage, he jokes.

So what does he think now of the band that left him behind? Ringo, he says, turned out to be a first-class drummer. But he was astonished at his outburst last autumn, when his replacement threw a hissy-fit online, telling fans he wouldn't be signing autographs any more.

Pete goes out of his way to meet his audiences after shows.

John Lennon? A genius just beginning to come to terms with his role as a world leader, when he paid the ultimate price of success.

George Harrison? He came to the end of his life doing what he wanted to do, still the private secluded person he had always been.

And Sir Paul? "He's an exceptional talent, he has proved that so often, but alongside his creativity he has always been good at public relations. The image is important. You have to think, he always gets someone to do his dirty work for him."

It was The Beatles' manager and mentor Brian Epstein who wielded the knife, that day in 1962 when Pete was cut loose. He was nervous, stammering the words: "The boys want you out and Ringo in..." he said.

Years later John, once Pete's best friend, would confess they had been cowardly.

"I believe that only three people knew the real reason why I was sacked," Pete says.

"And only one of them is left alive now to tell the story."



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"Macca not as he seems ask Denny laine you would not be to be awaiting help from this self serving indivindual " Jimmy, Lytham around 3 days, 16 hours ago

"I think that Paul McCartney should make amends to Pete Best.A lot of yrs have passed.It needs to be done for the sake of all." Steve, Toronto around 2 months, 1 week ago

"jesus god, what a heart wrenching bad break, I'm so sorry Pete Best. you do have an awesome story tho... not many people get to say that" mc, new york around 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"They were young - young people are immature & don't handle things properly. I think they just liked Ringo's sound better" Jennifer, Bronx, NY around 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"So sad. Even with all the pain he was once a Beatles. That's inced-able. He is part of the story. A driving beat part of the original story." Charles, Canada around 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"I am inclined to think that alot of it had to do with his looks and popularity being a threat to the front men. " Kurt Kelley, Delray Beach, FL around 7 months ago

"I grew up watching Ringo Starr. To me, he always had that, drummer cut. But yes, the other Beatles acted unfairly." VICTOR, Bradenton, Florida around 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"Reading between the lines of his carefully chosen words about McCartney confirms for me that Paul just isn't a good person. " Trish, Brisbane around 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Not really accurate to call what Ringo did a hissy-fit. He was just sick of people getting his autograph, then seeing it up on Ebay later." Trevor Mullins, Ohio around 1 year, 2 months ago

"Being Pete Best would be like having a winning 200 million dollar PowerBall ticket...and then losing it. A miserable, gut wrenching loss." Greg, USA around 1 year, 2 months ago

"Perhaps they knew they would not be famous with Pete in the band. A band needs chemistry as much as musicianship in order to make it." John, U.S.A. : New York : Rochester around 1 year, 8 months ago

"Met Pete at a Beatles Con. He signed a Lennon piece I wrote. Greatest guy ever. Cool, kind, thoughtful. Invited me to his UK home. See ya!" Greg Grube, 48135, Garden City around 2 years, 2 months ago

"What this article fails to state is that Pete did end up cashing in with several millions in the bank from the royalties of Anthology I!" Paul, USA around 2 years, 6 months ago

"pete best was betrayed by people he thought were his best friends they were like brothers to him" ezzy, birmingham around 3 years, 1 month ago

"I worked for a company in Los Angeles years ago, and my boss' accountant had an assistant who was a German guy, part-time music producer-" jgmurphy, Skokie, IL USA around 3 years, 1 month ago

"Pete wasn't good on Love Me Do but neither was McCartney/Lennon's vocal. They improved with the years so would Pete have. I blame McCartney" Gerry, Belfast around 3 years, 6 months ago

"PETE WAS BIGGER WITHIN THE BEATLES BECAUSE OF HIS POPOLARITY WITH THE GIRLS FANS, THEY HATED THAT THOUGHT SO HE HAD TO GO, NO OTHER REASON. " azzo, Birmingham around 4 years, 5 months ago

"George Martin and his engineers wanted an experienced studio man. They didn't want Ringo to play either. That's not why Best was fired." Jackson Hart, Philippines around 4 years, 5 months ago

"A PBS TV Show called "Best of the Beatles" claimed it was a record company executive who ordered the change." Robert Shortz, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. USA around 5 years, 4 months ago

 
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