Pete Best is sacked from The Beatles

George Martin was impressed enough by The Beatles' debut session for EMI on 6 June to offer them a recording contract. However, he was less pleased with the band's drummer, Pete Best.

The Beatles with Pete Best, 1962

Getting rid of Best was not an easy decision. The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had asked Cavern DJ Bob Wooler if it was a good idea, but Wooler told him that the handsome Best was too popular with the fans.

Brian Epstein told me that Pete Best was going to be sacked. I could imagine it with someone who was constantly late or giving him problems, but Pete Best was not awkward and he didn't step out of line. I was most indignant and I said, 'Why are you doing this?' but I didn't get an answer.
Bob Wooler
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh

Best had been with the group since 12 August 1960. He was never given a reason for his dismissal, which took place at 10am on this day at Epstein's NEMS record shop. Best was dropped off at 10am by the group's driver, Neil Aspinall, who was in a relationship with Best's mother Mona.

Neil drove me into town and dropped me off in Whitechapel. I found Brian in a very uneasy mood when I joined him in his upstairs office. He came out with a lot of pleasantries and talked anything but business, which was unlike him. These were obviously delaying tactics and something important, I knew, was on his mind. Then he mustered enough courage to drop the bombshell.

'The boys want you out and Ringo in.'

I was stunned and found words difficult. Only one echoed through my mind. Why, why why?

'They don't think you're a good enough drummer, Pete,' Brian went on. 'And George Martin doesn't think you're a good enough drummer.'

'I consider myself as good, if not better, than Ringo,' I could hear myself saying. Then I asked: 'Does Ringo knew about this yet?'

'He's joining on Saturday,' Eppy said.

So everything was all neatly packaged. A conspiracy had clearly been going on for some time behind my back, but not one of the other Beatles could find the courage to tell me. The stab in the back had been left to Brian, and it had been left until almost the last minute. Even Ringo had been a party to it, someone else I had considered to be a pal until this momentous day...

Epstein went on to what for him was simply next business at this shattering meeting. 'There are still a couple of venues left before Ringo joins - will you play?'

'Yes,' I nodded, not really knowing what I was saying, for my mind was in a turmoil. How could this happen to me? Why had it taken two years for John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison to decide that my drumming was not of a high enough standard for them? Dazed, I made my way out of Brian's office. Downstairs, Neil was waiting for me. 'What's happened?' he asked as soon as he saw me, 'you look as if you've seen a ghost.'

Pete Best
Beatle! The Pete Best Story, by Pete Best and Patrick Doncaster

Best and Aspinall repaired to the Grapes pub on Mathew Street to take in the shocking news.

'All I want to do is try to get my thoughts together,' I told him. He was really upset and as disgusted as I was at this sudden, stupefying blow. He began to talk about quitting his job as road manager.

'There's no need for that,' I told him. 'Don't be a fool - The Beatles are going places.' ...

Once I was home at Hayman's Green, I broke down and wept. My mother already knew what had happened that morning in Brian's office, as unknown to me Neil had slipped away at some stage to telephone her. She had been trying in vain to contact Epstein only to find that he was 'Not available'.

When I was sufficiently recovered from the initial shock, I realised that I had promised to carry on as a Beatle until Ringo's arrival and that we were due to play Chester that night. Now I knew I could never face it. I had been betrayed and sitting up there on stage with the three people who had done it would be like having salt rubbed into a very deep wound. If they didn't want me, they would have to get along without me from this moment on and find another drummer..

Pete Best
Beatle! The Pete Best Story, by Pete Best and Patrick Doncaster

John Lennon later said of the dismissal, "We were cowards. We got Epstein to do the dirty work for us."

News of Best's sacking from The Beatles was greeted with surprise by many in Liverpool.

I remember seeing Ringo, we called him Ritchie then, outside a chemist's and he said that he was going to join The Beatles. I said, 'There was no way they will sack Pete Best, man, He's a moody guy but all the girls would go waah!' It was a shock when Ritchie got the job. The next time that I saw Pete he was managing the job centre in Green Lane. I signed on and gave him my dole card and he said, 'Is this your name and address?' 'Yes.' 'Sign here.' I don't think he wanted to acknowledge me.
Sugar Deen, Liverpool musician
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh

A fan of the group later headbutted George Harrison at the Cavern, giving him a black eye, and for weeks the band were subjected to chants of "Ringo never, Pete Best forever!"

The decision caused ructions within The Beatles' camp too. Their assistant and road manager Neil Aspinall was reportedly furious, but was told by the group: "It's got nothing to do with you - you're only the driver".

Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening) - Pete Best's final show with The Beatles
Live: Riverpark Ballroom, Chester
Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.

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