What if Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe stayed in the Beatles? | Fab Forum

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What if Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe stayed in the Beatles?
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4 May 2014
10.36pm
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MrMoonlight
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Another thread inspired by something else, the "What If" thread on All Together Now provoked me to wonder: what would it be like had Pete Best stayed in the Beatles and Stuart Sutcliffe never to have died and stayed part of them?

I'm speaking from a solely hypothetical viewpoint. We know that it was Stu's choice to leave, and we know Pete was kicked out. But I'm wondering: how would the band dynamic be? What would go differently, both historically and aesthetically? Hell, what songs would they have sung?

I've always wondered how it would have been if the all-too familiar "John, Paul, George and Ringo" was "John, Paul, George, Stuart, and Pete". Doesn't have the same ring to it. But it's still interesting to ponder even what they'd looked like, let alone sounded like. Pete with a moptop, Stuart with long hair and a moustache... Would they both have written songs?

Remember: hypothetical. No pedantic complaints a-hard-days-night-george-10

Mal's got a mop and another glass of orange juice!
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'Cause he doesn't like it looking like he looks back~

5 May 2014
2.38pm
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Von Bontee
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I really have to question the theoretical notion that they would've necessarily been terrible and gone nowhere with Stu & Pete. ('Cause this is just all speculation, after all...) We'll never know how good a songwriter Stu or even Pete might've been if they had opportunities to hone their skills. Is it impossible to believe that Pete Best mightn't've written several songs better than Ringo's pair if he had opportunity to work at it for years? Or that Stu might have had a budding songwriter in him?

Ray Davies' early songs with the Kinks were pretty bad. And as Zig said, so were those early Lennon-McCartney compositions. And yet all three of them blossomed into legendary songwriters because they kept working at it. And Syd Barrett was a gifted visual artist (hey, just like Stu!) who likewise abruptly transferred his energies from painting into rudimentary guitar playing/songwriting, and eventually he became good enough to lead Pink Floyd and create their legendary early works.

Conversely, what if Stu didn't worry about songwriting at all, just stayed content to do the best he could on bass. Would that really have been an impediment to John & Paul's early songwriting methods? Sure, the songs wouldn't have sounded as good onstage when they were played, but they still would've looked COOL. (The bass player turning his back on the audience while playing: Just like Miles Davis, man!) And that's ultimately the reason Brian Epstein took an interest and worked tirelessly on their behalf, isn't it? I don't think Brian would necessarily have had any opionions on what makes a good bass line.

Does it really ultimately matter that much how well the rhythm section played onstage? Especially after they got huge and couldn't even be heard? George Martin felt that Pete's drumming was insufficient, and no doubt would've felt the same of Stu, and would've employed session players for recording purposes, but there's no reason they couldn't have stayed in the band anyways. Would the fans have known they weren't playing on their own records? Probably not, at least not for several years. And maybe Pete would've become more skilled in the ensuing time.

I guess what I'm saying is that the whole Beatles phenomenon was so unprecedented that there's really no way of knowing what variables may have made a difference. I just think that we all know the Beatles Story so well that it's difficult to imagine that some of the things that we think went miraculously right, may have gone even better!

The following people thank Von Bontee for this post:

MrMoonlight
One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
5 May 2014
3.50pm
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Von Bontee
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Linde said

I think I'll have to go with what Zig says here. They wanted to dump Peter, and I'm sure they would've dumped Stu too, had he still been there. They wanted to make it, and you just can't make it if you've got a drummer who can only drum the same pattern over and over again and a bassist who can only play a few bits.

But is this really the case? Or was it the case in 1962? My point was that those early audiences didn't care much how good or bad the rhythm section was. Pete Best's drumming insufficiencies didn't prevent him from being the most popular Beatle! I think they became hugely popular because of the way they looked and the way they sang, with the way they played being less of a factor. And anyways, George Martin was prepared to use session musicians to beef up the rhythm section for the recordings. And he's stressed that this didn't necessarily mean kicking Pete out of the band. The Kinks, to name one band, used a session drummer on their earliest material, and still became successful.

I mean, I guess the Beatles felt they needed to replace Pete in order to be successful, so in that sense it was necessary as a motivating factor. But in retrospect, I just think they had the talent & good looks & ambition to make it regardless of who their drummer was. (Sorry if it sounds like I'm badmouthing Ringo - I just think that he's the 4th most important Beatle.)

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
9 May 2014
5.58pm
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Von Bontee
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9 May 2014
10.05pm
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IveJustSeenAFaceo
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Commercially perhaps, but musically they wouldn't have been nearly as good (doubled if Stu and Pete stay). Like to see Pete play A Day In The Life

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12 June 2014
4.30pm
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