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Pete Best: why was he really kicked out? Was it fair?
1 December 2014
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Necko said
Pete Best was kicked out because he wasn't a very good drummer.  Simple as that.  If you listen to the recordings that he did with the Beatles, he just does the same thing over and over.  He uses a similar beat and falls back on the same fill every single time.  Ringo was a huge improvement to the band's sound and was part of what made them stand out over the other bands.

As far as whether it was fair, I don't know.  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it was musically a good move.

i 150% Agree

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1 December 2014
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Oudis said

Billy Rhythm said

...and no, this "anybody could have been in his (Ringo's) place" notion is garbage...

Can’t you keep the conversation polite? No, it seems that you can’t.

It was a simple disagreement. I do not believe any disrespect was intended. Let's move on and keep the conversation going as there is a lot of good input. Thanks.
apple01

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1 December 2014
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Necko said
Pete Best was kicked out because he wasn't a very good drummer.  Simple as that.  If you listen to the recordings that he did with the Beatles, he just does the same thing over and over.  He uses a similar beat and falls back on the same fill every single time.  Ringo was a huge improvement to the band's sound and was part of what made them stand out over the other bands.

As far as whether it was fair, I don't know.  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it was musically a good move.

A level-headed, not angry reply at least, @Necko, thank you so much.

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

1 December 2014
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Necko said
Pete Best was kicked out because he wasn't a very good drummer.  Simple as that.  If you listen to the recordings that he did with the Beatles, he just does the same thing over and over.  He uses a similar beat and falls back on the same fill every single time.  Ringo was a huge improvement to the band's sound and was part of what made them stand out over the other bands.

As far as whether it was fair, I don't know.  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it was musically a good move.

Possibly unfair, but then much of life is unfair - especially business.  I think it was the best musical decision (no bad pun intended) from the small amount of musical evidence I have available to me and the testimony of those close to the events.

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1 December 2014
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Our Randolph Peter Best just fookin' sucked. Simple as that.

Nah, Mr. Kite and a few others have made very good points. It wasn't just that he didn't drum that well, it was his personality too. Mean, moody..does that fit well with the others at that time? No it does not.

And yeah, he wasn't a good drummer. He could only play one style, and that's not good enough. And if you read that the other three had to stomp their feet for Pete Best to know which tempo he had to drum in, that's just ridiculous. 

There have been a lot of debates about Ringo's drumming, but we know he did a great job. He was a distinct drummer and sounded different than most other drummers. Ringo wasn't ''lucky and in the right time and place'' in any sense. He was in a band that were doing better than the Beatles at that time. He didn't necessarily need the Beatles, they needed him. He was already known as one of the best drummers in Liverpool, and do you know why? Because he was.

Ringo was a perfect fit. His drumming was good, and he and the others came up with cool drum patterns for him to play. What would Ticket To Ride , Come Together , Rain , A Day In The Life , Strawberry Fields Forever etc. be without his drumming and with Pete Bests? Not quite as good and they would have to change the whole song around as Pete wouldn't be able to play it the way they originally wrote it.

A famous drummer, I think it might have been Phil Collins or Dave Grohl or something, once commented on Ringo's drumming, saying that it looks easy, but when you're trying to do it, it's actually pretty hard and it just won't sound the same. Ringo is a unique drummer, and often underrated. 

Oh and what would we be without Ringo's sense of humour? Help ! and AHDN are awesome. Not to mention the ringoisms like Tomorrow Never Knows and A Hard Day's Night . And songs like Yellow Submarine and Octopus Garden? I love those songs.

Whether throwing Peter Best out was fair, well, that's debatable. It was fair to throw him out as he, well, sucked, but the way they did it was a bit lame. They could have handled that in a different way. Although, why would you dump someone face to face if they don't show up for gigs and practises and don't really seem to care about anything band related in general and don't even take the effort to tell you they can't make it or where they are? 

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1 December 2014
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 A thread over at the dmbeatles' forum with a range of quotes on Ringo from not only his fellow Beatles but a number of musicians.

If you think Ringo's drumming is simple and plain listen to his playing on 'Something ' isolated. It sounds so straightforward but its anything but - it blew my mind when i heard it.

Or just listen to his playing on 'Revolution' (3:21 of awesomeness). 

And his ability to keep a just keep playing, not miss a beat, or stick in a needless fill is again is stunning (see 'What Goes On ').

Parts so crucial for the songs yet are so often overlooked because they aren't stealing your ear, begging to be heard.

Pete could never have done this nor could any other drummer.

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2 December 2014
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On the discussion if they wanted Ringo or just a better drummer than Best...

Many bands come together as pieces; trial and error.  This guy fits, that guy doesn't and we should eventually find someone to replace him, etc.  Open a trade magazine, look through the want-ads, network, etc.  Most band memberships are dynamic.  That's the standard.

The Beatles fit into that given the number of people that have been band members, but there's also a part that doesn't due to their germination while still kids.  That carries a certain amount of camaraderie not found in a typical band .  While it's not wholly unique in the music industry, it is a rarity.  The core of The Beatles has always been John, Paul and George (japage3).  When they met Starkey, there was a mutual appreciation and friendship that satisfied that search for a fourth but remained unfulfilled.  I really think that's the difference.

When it was time to replace Best, they argued for the need to return to Liverpool to find a replacement.  Why?  They were already in London, if they were looking for just 'a drummer,' they could have looked locally.  But they made a point of returning home.  Because they didn't want 'a drummer,' they wanted Starkey.

But was it just because of his skill?

Discussion of Starkey's skill is secondary. He was already known as a good drummer; better than Best, better than just about anyone else in Liverpool.  But no one else was ever approached.  What set Starkey apart was the camaraderie... after shows in Hamburg, whether it was those times when he filled for a sick Pete Best or when the loner Pete Best would disappear; when The Hurricanes were in town, Starkey would hang out and spill beer with John, Paul and George.

I will say that Zig's proposal is crucial in the argument though; what if Ringo had said no?

Seem logical that The Beatles would have wound up as just another band with a dynamic membership.  Speculation, sure.  But it's my opinion that it was Ritchie Starkey -the man, not the drummer- that was the deciding factor.

As it turns out, probably no other drummer could have made them who they became.

“Send John out first; he’s the one they want.”

~ someone said it, dammit.

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2 December 2014
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Linde said

Our Randolph Peter Best just fookin' sucked. Simple as that.

Pretty much! brian-epsteinahdn_george_06

Sorry Pete.

A famous drummer, I think it might have been Phil Collins or Dave Grohl or something, once commented on Ringo's drumming, saying that it looks easy, but when you're trying to do it, it's actually pretty hard and it just won't sound the same. Ringo is a unique drummer, and often underrated. 

I feel like theres some cliche about those who can make complex, difficult tasks look simple... that was Ringo's drumming! Amazing and hard to replicate even if one may think they can.

@meanmistermustard Thanks for posting all these isolated tracks! apple01

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2 December 2014
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Zig said

Oudis said

Billy Rhythm said

...and no, this "anybody could have been in his (Ringo's) place" notion is garbage...

Can’t you keep the conversation polite? No, it seems that you can’t.

It was a simple disagreement. I do not believe any disrespect was intended. Let's move on and keep the conversation going as there is a lot of good input. Thanks.
apple01

I suppose that I should have chosen the word "refuse" instead, in all seriousness Oudis, what you (and what many others have passed Rings off as some "lovable nose" for decades now) suggest is that "anybody" could take Ringo's drummer's throne (that's what they called a drummer's "seat" back then) and still stake claim to one "Lad Who Shook The World" is simply NOT TRUE or, "garbage".  I've been gracing the skins since I was 11 years old and have become quite competent on the kit, but to suggest that Billy Rhythm could've wore Ringo Starr 's Beatle Boots and influenced Multi-Generations with his playing had he been chosen instead of Ringo is Utter Garbage and I can't be more "polite" about it, to be frank.  Sure, Pete is a personable fellow, but we'd very likely not even be having this conversation had Mr. Best not been replaced when he had of, had Ringo not taken Brian Epstein up on his offer to join The Beatles in August 1962 this world would be a very different place that we live in, for few human beings have shaped our culture as Mr. Starkey has.  Pete Best has gotten over the sacking long ago (and made a modest living from his Ex-Beatle Status, I might add), so why shouldn't you?...:-)  

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2 December 2014
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In regards to Ringo possibly saying no i think they knew he wouldn't. They hung out a lot in Hamburg and played together so they would have build up a good friendship and as Ringo said he loved playing with them, plus they had a record contract which was huge.

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2 December 2014
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meanmistermustard said
 A thread over at the dmbeatles' forum with a range of quotes on Ringo from not only his fellow Beatles but a number of musicians.

If you think Ringo's drumming is simple and plain listen to his playing on 'Something ' isolated. It sounds so straightforward but its anything but - it blew my mind when i heard it.


Or just listen to his playing on 'Revolution' (3:21 of awesomeness). 

And his ability to keep a just keep playing, not miss a beat, or stick in a needless fill is again is stunning (see 'What Goes On ').

Parts so crucial for the songs yet are so often overlooked because they aren't stealing your ear, begging to be heard.

Pete could never have done this nor could any other drummer.

At risk of turning this into a Ringo thread, I feel it's important to point out there are at least two percussionists on Something . Ringo is playing the drum kit, but someone else is playing the cymbal with beaters (giving that swelling sound) and probably also the hi-hat part in the middle eight ("You're asking me will my love grow...").

That drum track on Revolution is also surprisingly sloppy. It's less obvious when all the other instruments are audible, but it's interesting to hear how the bass drum keeps going slightly out. A lot of Beatles recordings were like that. Nowadays it'd all be quantized and made perfect, and we'd be worse off for it.

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Joe said

Nowadays it'd all be quantized and made perfect, and we'd be worse off for it.

Why would we be worse off if the music was made perfect? 

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2 December 2014
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@Starr Shine? Because things are often made more beautiful for their small little flaws, imperfections and mistakes. Technical perfection rarely has room for someone's creative expression within it.

It's why many of us don't like things like autotune.

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2 December 2014
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Annadog40 said

Joe said

Nowadays it'd all be quantized and made perfect, and we'd be worse off for it.

Why would we be worse off if the music was made perfect? 

I think he was referring to today's recording practices. If so, I agree. I hear much of today's pop music and find it too perfect (drum beat machines, autotune, etc...) to the point of being boring and fake. For the most part, it seems soulless. To be fair, many musicians felt the same way about pop music back in the the early 60's or even earlier when music was laid down on multiple tracks and edited together versus recording it "live" in the studio or on stage.

Sorry for the tangent away from your thread, @Oudis. I'll slap myself with a
stay-on-topic

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2 December 2014
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@Starr Shine? The others put it well. I've always found it disappointing when groups remove all the flaws and quirks from a recording. I bet if Giles Martin took the Beatles multitracks and made everything note perfect it would sound hugely inferior to what we have, because what we have is full of character and humanity.

Dragging this back on topic, I'm fairly torn on Pete Best's drumming. He's mixed way down on the Decca audition but his playing sounds solid enough. On the Anthology 1 version of Love Me Do he's quite poor (the tempo wavers and drags), but I do quite like the middle section where he plays double time - it's a fairly boring song that he tried to make interesting. My guess is he was better at playing the faster songs and simply didn't know what to do with LMD. Sadly for him, he never really got a chance to prove it to George Martin, whereas Ringo scraped through the Andy White session and found his feet (and hands) on Please Please Me .

Was it fair? Sure. People get kicked out of bands all the time for not being right. He'd been with them for two years and they decided he wasn't good enough for the next stage, and that they'd rather spend their time with someone else. He might not have lasted as long were it not for the Mona Best/Neil Aspinall connection.

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Firstly, a couple of points made previously by others that I'd like to correct.

@Linde said
(Ringo) was in a band that were doing better than the Beatles at that time.

Rory Storm & The Hurricanes were the top Liverpool band for a long time. The Beatles started to overtake them in 1961, and by the time Ringo joined them in August 1962, there was no doubt about them being the top band in Liverpool.

Mersey Beat had famously declared it in their first issue of 1962:
MerseyBeat.JPGImage Enlarger

@C.R.A. said
When it was time to replace Best, they argued for the need to return to Liverpool to find a replacement. Why? They were already in London, if they were looking for just 'a drummer,' they could have looked locally. But they made a point of returning home.

The Beatles were still very much Liverpool-based in 1962, only going down to London to record. They didn't start to have longer stays in London until 1963, and to begin with they were staying in hotels. It wasn't until September 1963 that they got their first London home, when the four of them moved into a flat in Mayfair (John soon moving out once somewhere had been found for him, Cynthia and Julian; followed by Paul moving in with the Ashers).

Now, some thoughts on Pete's sacking and its background.

The first thing to remember, in my opinion, is that as well as being a group of musicians, The Beatles were a gang. While Pete was a member of that group of musicians, he was never in the gang. More damningly for him, he never showed any desire to be in the gang - the points already made by others about him choosing not to spend much time with them off-stage. In that way, he signed his own death warrant. That made his sacking inevitable, even had he been the best drummer on Merseyside (which he wasn't).

In many ways, the question is how he survived so long. After all, Brian was quickly made aware after becoming their manager that Pete was just filling the seat until someone better came along. They had already decided by the end of 1961 that, were they to take the next step, and Brian got them the recording contract he promised, Pete would not be part of it. They knew and liked Ringo, but he was yet to be the one.

So, why did they wait until August 1962?

One obstacle was Brian. Their relationship with him was relatively new, and he argued that he saw no need for the change, and would continue to argue that right up until the decision was made.

There were occasions when the change could have been sooner, but circumstance got in the way.

The first was at the end of 1961.

The Beatles, after a year of growing triumphs, were booked at The Cavern on 27 December, billed as The Beatles' Christmas Party. Pete rang in sick, and rather than use a drummer from one of their support bands, they got in Ringo. And it felt right.

It is possible that that night put in their minds that Ringo was their drummer. If it did, Ringo scuppered the opportunity for it to get beyond John, Paul and George maybe discussing the possibility between themselves. He quit the Hurricanes three days later and disappeared abroad (in fact, to Hamburg and Tony Sheridan's band). With Ringo not around, whatever thoughts they may have been having, it was soldier on with Pete.

Pete's position was made clear following the Decca audition. John, Paul and George knew what was happening the moment it happened. Pete didn't find out about the failure of the Decca audition until sometime in March, and then only from Brian, even though the others had known of its failure for weeks.

Ringo reappeared in Liverpool in February 1962. He was in no condition to be approached with the idea of joining The Beatles. His grandmother had died on the 7th, he hadn't made it back for the funereal, and when he did get back found himself facing his father for the first time since a young child. Ringo was going through a period of depression.

Whatever discussions were going on, with Brian still firmly against sacking Pete, Ringo in no state to be approached, and a Hamburg contract signed by John, Paul, George and Pete, which may have been difficult to amend, another opportunity lost.

It was during that trip to Hamburg they got news of the Parlophone recording test/session. It was so soon after their return, it didn't give them the chance to make a change.

Luckily for them, George Martin expressed his doubts over Pete as a recording drummer.

If a change was going to happen, it had to be then, and GM had given the final piece of ammunition they needed to still Brian arguments against. GM didn't want to use him as the studio drummer. They didn't like him as the stage drummer (look at pictures of them live, the three of them rocking out at the front of the stage, Pete sat at the back looking bored, or as the fans would have it, "moody"). And Paul and George just plain didn't like him by the end.

He'd had his chance to be in the gang, but had chosen to remain a loner, while Ringo was in the gang even before he joined.

Pete sealed his own fate.

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Ron Nasty - there's a lot of details in that (extremely well written) post up there. Can I ask where you found all those details? Some of them were new to me, like Pete not knowing about the Deccan failure until after, Ringo's life in 1961/2... I'm just genuinely curious. And I'm not doubting it. It's a masterful piece of writing which I 100% agree with.

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@mr. Sun king coming together (you have to learn how to use @'s) I've had 34 years reading and learning about The Beatles so I'm quite good for facts, and then putting on how I interpret the various sources.

Pete himself has spoken about how he was kept out of the loop on the Decca decision, in interviews and in his book Beatle!.

Much of the detail on Ringo came from Mark Lewisohn's Tune In Extended Edition, some of which I already knew, some of which I didn't.

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3 December 2014
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From what I have read here, Pete shouldn't have been surprised that he was let go. It wasn't like it came Out Of The Blue . He knew bands traded up members to find the best fit (no pun intended) musically-wise and group dynamics-wise.

Is much else known about Pete's audition for The Beatles? What songs did he play? Were they ones he picked out? Did The Beatles sing and play along? I have no idea how auditions happen. Were all of The Beatles present for the audition?

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3 December 2014
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I do believe that the sacking came as a genuine shock to Pete. There seems to have been an almost wilful ignorance on his part about what his increasing freezing-out actually meant, and maybe he didn't see it as such big change since - by his own choice - he had always kept himself separate from the rest of the group.

If you take him being kept out of the loop on the Decca situation, for instance, instead of being furious about it, he seems to have just accepted the line that they didn't tell him because they were worried he'd take the news badly, and that it would dishearten him.

He truly does seem to have convinced himself that his place in the group was not at threat, while ignoring the growing evidence that it was not-so-much a case of if he'd be replaced but when he'd be replaced.

As to Pete's "audition" to join them in August 1960, audition is a generous description. He came into Liverpool on a Saturday evening, and set his drum kit in one of Allan Williams' clubs. The Beatles were there, with the possible exception of George. Williams was in charge:

I didn't know what made a good drummer, so I just asked him to do a drum roll and said, "OK, you're in".

The Beatles were leaving for Hamburg on the Monday, and they needed a drummer. Pete's level of ability really had nothing to do with it. He was their last resort and so he was in, otherwise The Beatles were not going to Hamburg.

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