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Pete Best: why was he really kicked out? Was it fair?
3 January 2015
11.31pm
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Hildy
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Anyone who has ever played in a band knows that chemistry is important. As I understand it, Ringo had already sat in with the band before he was invited to join them, and his face fitted better than Pete’s. It just did. This didn’t mean instant dismissal for Pete but it meant that he was in a more vulnerable position than the others and when question marks about drumming came up, Pete found that his jacket was hanging from a shoogly peg.

Back then, a drummer was not considered to be the same status as guitarists, songwriters and singers, but one was still required. Pete did the job pretty well and it all ended rather unfortunately, just as it did with hundreds of other band members who were shocked to be sacked by people they thought were mates. 

I played in a very small-time band and we let a drummer go whose face fitted but whose drumming did not. We then got a better drummer who didn’t fit in at all – so we let him go too. Drummers were the least valued in bands. A good lead guitarist leaving could finish the band completely and if a good singer left, a crisis could follow. If the drummer walked, though, it wasn’t such a big deal.

Apologies to the drumming fraternity but in the era of the Beatles, the drummer was pretty much background – almost the labourer in the band. It’s great that Ringo made such a name for himself with the Beatles, and sad that Pete missed out, but we shouldn’t get bogged down with such an issue. I feel for Pete but unexpected firings of band members were a fairly common occurrence back in the day.

It’s just the way that it was, and there were winners – and losers.

3 January 2015
11.56pm
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georgiewood
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a-hard-days-night-ringo-8 This calls to mind the old joke: what do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians all the time?  The drummer.

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4 January 2015
9.17pm
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Having read the ESE, I think Mark Lewisohn delivers on several points that he made in an interview with Ken Michaels, back in 2013.

The first thing is that the Beatles only went for Pete as a last resort. They needed a drummer for Hamburg but they had needed a drummer before that. And they knew he was there in West Derby … yet, for the Larry Parnes audition they were using Tommy Moore, a guy who was much older than them and didn’t even bother to turn up on time. But as Mark says, they didn’t want Pete.

Pete made a point of doing his own thing. The unanimous opinion from the Beatles’ Liverpool circle was that he didn’t speak, didn’t engage and didn’t socialise. He was on a different wavelength. He went home after the gig. I’ve been in bands and I know that the post-gig social side is a big part of what binds musicians together. When you’re packing up the gear, the next thing you do is go for a pint together and relax, talk, analyse the gig, come down from the adrenalin rush. It’s an unspoken thing and if one of you goes home, they automatically relegate themselves from that closeness.

He was a very limited drummer. I have to laugh when I see his website – the man who put the beat in Beatles. Yes Pete – a very loud bass drum. But if you were that good why didn’t the Pete Best Four break America. My closest friend is a drummer and he shakes his head in disbelief at Pete’s timekeeping. 

I don’t mean to sound combative but I’m confused as to why threads like this still appear. Pete was an unsteady drummer with an introverted personality who didn’t hang out with his bandmates. They had already found a guy who was known as ‘the metronome’ in Liverpool, had a great sense of humour, and was a much better player. In all fairness, it’s a pointless conversation.

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C.R.A.

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20 February 2015
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ewe2
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I think the thing that gets me about the whole Best thing is that most bands have membership issues, this gets more attention just from the fame aspect and isn’t worth the gossip really. He was an ok drummer but he wasn’t one of the gang. I think he has a right to feel upset with the way he was sacked, but he was his own worst enemy too. I would have sacked him face to face (I’ve sacked people from bands) but then I would have fronted him about his group participation earlier too.

I wonder whether another goad to keep Best rehashing his story was also the fickleness of 16yo girls who momentarily took up the Best cause and dropped it within weeks, as documented yet again by Lewisohn in Tune In. Nothing dents the ego more than the fans moving on too, because that tells you what your value really was. A band’s core crowd has a great sense of ownership, and if there was a serious rift over the Best sacking, there’d be more evidence of it. There simply isn’t. And finally to quote Lewisohn again:

Pete would always contend there had to be additional reasons for his dismissal, one or more causes to remain everlastingly unknown to him as to everyone else. This both preserved his dignity and left him room for maneuver. Asked about it thousands of times—as he was—he would say variations of “They said my drumming wasn’t good enough but the real reason is a mystery.” Neil knew better and was very much around for the asking, and it’s telling that Pete and Mona didn’t challenge John, Paul or George about it, only the people around them. Mo even phoned George Martin. Though doubtless bemused at the inquiry, he confirmed his decision not to use Pete on Beatles recording sessions; whether or not the group retained him outside the studio wasn’t his business.

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2 August 2015
3.37pm
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Reading ‘Tune In’ it comes across that Pete was damn fortunate to get into the Beatles in the first place and instead of being irked over getting kicked out when Ringo joined he should be damn grateful he got a lifetime of eeking out his story from it.

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3 August 2015
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Maybe kicking Pete out wasn’t fair to Pete, but it was fair to the rest of the band. Having heard the recordings of Pete’s drumming, he would have held them back. Being a bit of a metronome myself, those recordings really make me cringe. Imagine how professionals like George Martin must have felt about it…

But I also get the personality bit. Even very shy and very introverted people can be friendly with their colleagues if they choose to. Not spending time with John, Paul, and George was a choice Pete made. It would have meant making an effort, but he definitely could have committed himself to bonding with the others. It would have cost him a lot of energy, and it would have required him to get out of his comfort zone, but he could have made that choice. 

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3 August 2015
1.26pm
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Whats in Pete’s favour in truth (weirdly) is the timing as if he got booted out 6 months earlier, just after the Decca session, no one or few would look back and think of him that much; he’d be in the list along with Tommy Moore as a bit part player in their story, altho he would have 18 months or so to talk about.

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Zig

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3 August 2015
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Agreed and great point. He even could have been sacked after Bert Kaempfert took away more than half his drum kit during the Tony Sheridan recording sessions. That may be stretching it a bit as they would have had a difficult time replacing him in Hamburg, but the point remains that one reason why he wasn’t shown the door sooner is they were just too lazy to look for someone else until the shit hit the fan.
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3 August 2015
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Its of note that the Beatles went a good month or two in search for a regular drummer than getting Pete in and it cant of just been that they all were scared of and unwilling to speak to Mona Best because of their falling out. They only went with him as they were desperate and had no other option. 

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3 August 2015
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C.R.A.
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And (if I may add) as I recall, that once that had happened, Pete and his mom wound up handling many of the bookings when no one else was, something Epstein had to wrest from them.  When the group got tossed from Hamburg and came back empty-handed, it was her that got their gear back.  Stuff like that all plays into “why” things took so long.  Mona Best had a bit of a grip and it doesn’t appear that they had any motivation to line up their own work and were content to just let her keep doing it.

4 August 2015
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Domino
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Probably because George Martin didn’t like his drumming, it gave them the excuse they needed.

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Necko
28 June 2017
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29 June 2020
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Ron Nasty said
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.

According to the terms and conditions of the contract between the Beatles and Brian Epstein, there was a clause that gave the Beatles the right to dismiss any member of the group, by majority vote, in this case, two out of three. Obviously, John, Paul and George were all in agreement that Pete needed to be sacked. In other words, they had the power to fire Pete at their own convenience, any time they wished.

My guess is that Brian assumed (and it proved to be true) that he would have to break the news to Pete. According to many sources, the eventual meeting at which Brian told Pete the bad news was short, and Brian was extremely nervous during the conversation. I think Brian’s argument that there was “no need for the change” was made to avoid doing the dirty work of actually dismissing Pete.

As for the fairness, Pete probably had every right to challenge his dismissal legally, but he didn’t. Perhaps if he had any idea that the Beatles would achieve the tremendous fame, fortune and stardom, he very well might have fought his dismissal. But at that point, who knew?

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5 January 2021
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I was preparing for a class that is using the word “resilient” as their starting point. Look what came up during my searching.

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Source: Psychology Today
Date: January 1, 2013
 

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Beatlebug
5 January 2021
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Mademoiselle Kitty >^..^< said

Maybe kicking Pete out wasn’t fair to Pete, but it was fair to the rest of the band. Having heard the recordings of Pete’s drumming, he would have held them back. Being a bit of a metronome myself, those recordings really make me cringe. Imagine how professionals like George Martin must have felt about it…

That’s good point. Its like any other job that if that company is moving one way, but you’re moving another way it’s best, non pun, to part ways. 

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Beatlebug
5 January 2021
10.13pm
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Just today I heard the Love Me Do anthology take where Pete Best played drums and………. all I can say is, oof a-hard-days-night-paul-7

I’m no drummer, but I’ve listened to and played music with people long enough to know what most certainly doesn’t work ahdn_paul_01a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

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5 January 2021
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It was a business decision. Pete seems at peace with the past, and thinks himself to be lucky instead of misfortunate. That’s a healthy way of looking at things. We can’t change what has happened. Live in the present. 

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Beatlebug

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8 January 2021
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@Ahhh Girl 

Amazing that you would land on that article using Pete Best as an example of how to deal with an unfortunate situation.

What had to be particularly tough for him was seeing on a daily basis what his life would have been like had he been a little better drummer, a little more social with the other guys, ….. But when God gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

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8 January 2021
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meanmistermustard
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Beatlebug said
Just today I heard the Love Me Do anthology take where Pete Best played drums and………. all I can say is, oof a-hard-days-night-paul-7

I’m no drummer, but I’ve listened to and played music with people long enough to know what most certainly doesn’t work ahdn_paul_01a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

  

His drumming was average and contained the same drum fill in almost every second. History has shown Ringo was far better in every department and Pete looked an idiot claiming for the next 50 years he never knew why he was sacked.

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14 February 2021
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meanmistermustard
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This is worth watching. Interesting to see all 4 producers who worked with the Beatles in that formation all agree that Pete’s drumming was crap. 

 

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