Although the decision to sack Pete Best was unanimous among the other members of The Beatles, they later expressed regret at the way in which it was handled.
We weren’t very good at telling Pete he had to go. But when it comes down to it, how do you tell somebody? Although Pete had not been with us all that long – two years in terms of a lifetime isn’t very long – when you’re young it’s not a nice thing to be kicked out of a band and there’s no nice way of doing it. Brian Epstein was the manager so it was his job, but I don’t think he could do it very well either. But that’s the way it was and the way it is.
News of Pete Best’s split from The Beatles broke in the 23 August edition of Bill Harry’s Mersey Beat. The story claimed that the decision was amicable, but it didn’t prevent an uproar among The Beatles’ fans. Hundreds of girls signed petitions in protest at Best’s ousting, and some kept an all-night vigil outside Mona Best’s house.
Some of the fans – a couple of them – were shouting ‘Pete is best!’ and ‘Ringo never, Pete Best forever!’, but it was a small group and we ignored it. However, after about half an hour it was gretting a bit tiring so I shouted to the audience. When we stepped out of the band room into the dark tunnel, some guy nodded me one, giving me a black eye.
Brian Epstein offered to create another group around Best, but was turned down. Left depressed by his change of fortune, he later joined Lee Curtis and the All Stars, which later reformed without the frontman as Pete Best and the All Stars. The group signed to Decca Records, although their debut single I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door was not a hit.
Best later moved to the US where he played with the Pete Best Four, which later became the Pete Best Combo. An album, Best Of The Beatles, was released by Cameo Records, but was said to have disappointed many record buyers expecting a Beatles compilation.
In 1968 Best left the music industry, and often refused to discuss his time with The Beatles. Depressed at their unstoppable fame and fortune, Best made a suicide attempt, but was talked out of it by his mother Mona and his brother Rory.
Pete Best married Kathy in 1968; they had two daughters, Babs and Bonita. He became a civil servant for 20 years and in 1988 formed the Pete Best Band. Eventually he began to talk once more about The Beatles, giving interviews and working as technical advisor for the TV film Birth Of The Beatles.
In 1995 the Anthology 1 album contained a number of tracks with Best on drums. He is estimated to have made up to £4 million in royalties, although he did not participate in the book or documentary series. Poignantly, on the cover artwork Best’s head was obscured by a picture of Ringo Starr, although he was pictured leaning against Neil Aspinall’s van outside the Cavern.
In November 1995 Best appeared in an advertisement for Carlsberg lager, which was shown during a commercial break in the Anthology TV series. The tag line was “Probably the Pete Best lager in the world.”
The Pete Best Band regularly performs in the US and elsewhere, in which Best shares drumming duties with his younger brother Roag. Their repertoire included songs from The Beatles’ early set, including ‘My Bonnie’, Twist and Shout, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, and ‘One After 909’.
The group’s 2008 album, Hayman’s Green, consisted entirely of new material, and was named after the area of Liverpool where the Casbah Coffee Club is located.