Pete Best is best-known as the ‘Beatle’ who was suddenly axed from the group just before the band made it big. He was stunned to learn about this but took it all in his stride. Although many claim that his good looks and popularity were to blame, John Lennon attributed the ousting of the artist to his drumming skills which according to him, was neither skillful nor extensive. He was perceived to be a non-conformist who liked his own company and refused to adopt the band’s famous haircut, or share their sense of humor. This remarkable personality then set out on establishing a solo career playing local gigs in his hometown; however, commercial success seemed to be just out of reach. After a number of associations with bands and musical groups, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt, he took a complete break from pursuing a career in music and sought employment in the civil services. He now plays regularly for ‘The Pete Best Band’, a group he formed with his brother; however, his body of work with his own group appears to be largely generic. To learn more about the personality and the achievements of this famous musician, scroll further.
Childhood & Early Life
Randolph Peter Best was born in Chennai (then Madras) to Donald Peter Scanland, a marine engineer and Alice Mona Shaw, a doctor training to serve with the Red Cross. He has two siblings, Rory and Vincent Roag.
In 1945, the Best family set sail to Liverpool on the last troop ship to leave India. On arrival, Mona started the ‘Casbah Coffee Club’ in the basement of their family house where the Beatles used to play before their heydays.
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Pete Best was the drummer for the ‘Black Jacks’. His skill at playing all four beats in the bar and the huge female fan following convinced McCartney to recruit him for ‘The Beatles’ for the 1960 season of bookings in Hamburg.
In 1961, this drummer worked with the Beatles when they were recruited as a backing band for Tony Sheridan, who was signed under Polydor Records. He released the single, ‘My Bonnie’, which appeared in the German charts under the name ‘Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers’.
In the summer of 1962, when the Beatles signed their first record deal with EMI—‘Love Me Do’, and their first single, was to be made in a month—Epstein, the manager, was asked to fire Best from their group.
After he was ousted, he formed ‘The Pete Best Band’, with Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddlington, and regularly toured the United States with them. He did not enjoy commercial or critical success with the quintet then released: ‘Best of the Beatles’, which to the disappointment of listeners was not a compilation of songs by ‘The Beatles’.
In 1968, he decided to quit showbiz and he finally landed a job filling a bread factory van with sliced bread.
In 1969, his educational qualification landed him a job with the Garston Jobcentre, where he went on from being an employment officer to a training manager.
He distanced himself from music till the late 70s when he started working as an advisor for a movie which was to be made on the Beatles.
In 1988, twenty years after he played drums in public, his friends persuaded him to play at the concert at Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel. He performed along with his younger brother, Roag, and this marked his re-entry into the show business.
‘The Beatles Anthology’, which released in 1995, made him eligible for royalties, as the record released early demo recordings with Best on the drums.
In 1999, the big family home which housed the ‘Casbah’ was opened to the public as a museum and was a huge success when thousands turned up to pay a visit. It is now a recording studio and is listed as an English Heritage site.
He released ‘Haymans Green’, in 2008 and following its release, he has been touring all around the world with ‘The Pete Best Band’ and his brother, Roag.
‘Anthology 1’, which released in 1995, featured some of the best drum work by Pete Best. The album entered the Billboard 200, with 855,473 copies sold in its first week. It was also certified 8x Platinum.
‘Haymans Green’, released in 2008, in which he plays drums and co-wrote all of tracks, is perhaps this artist’s most important solo work. Although the album did not do well commercially, it enjoys a cult following among rock fans.
Awards & Achievements
Best was inducted into the ‘All You Need Is Liverpool’ Music Hall of Fame and was presented a framed certificate.
Personal Life & Legacy
He met Kathy, who was a staff at a Woolworth's store, at a Beatles party in the Cavern in 1962. He had watched her dancing and fell in love with her. The duo married in 1963 and has two daughters.
The city of Liverpool has named two new streets ‘Pete Best Drive’ and ‘Casbah Close’ in his honor.
The popularity and good looks of this great drummer from ‘The Beatles’ have often been cited as the source of friction within the band.