POOR PETE BEST
I've been down a rabbit hole of Pete Best videos this week. Who doesn't know who he is? Anyone?
He was the drummer sacked by the Beatles just weeks before they hit number one for the first time (after having secure a recording contract) - having been their drummer for over 2 years and 250 gigs (mostly in Hamburg, Germany). Even worse, he was sacked by a third party (their manager, not in person by the Beatles themselves) with no explanation ever given, even to this day.
I've known his story since I was 14 or so (albeit the sanitised Beatles version of their own 'Anthology' TV documentary) but re-visiting it as an older person it really hit home just how heartbreaking it must have been for him (indeed he attempted suicide in the mid-1960s).
Even setting aside the fact that he had to see the Beatles go on to become literally the biggest happening of the post-war world, playing songs that he worked on and building on the work he did with them - it was the human cost of his story that hit me hardest considering his story again.
It was him losing his mates, basically. Quite simply, any fame/fortune aside, he was dumped by his closest friends.
The facts are that when Pete Best was 19, he left home (by all accounts a close family), turning down teacher training college and travelling to Hamburg with 3 other lads to follow and build on their dreams of being musicians as a collective. He played (and, pretty much lived) with them for over 2 year, over 250 shows (1,200+ hours). He was living with them in cramped, slummy 'one for all, all for one' conditions, as a 20 year old lad in a foreign City. It is unlikely that many of us have had such potent and close experiences with other human beings at such a formative age.
He was then (in 2020's parlance) well and truly 'ghosted' and has been blanked ever since. His 3 friends got their manager to do the dirty work. Who simply told his the plain fact that he was out. No warning. No explanation and nothing since.
Even on that human level (forget totally that this was 'The Beatles') - that is a blow so hard that not many of us would fully recover from I suspect.
Add into the mix that The Beatles were so famous in Liverpool by this point that it was a 'ghosting' that happened in the most public arena imaginable. And while his is recovering, he barely has time to catch his breath before they all achieve their dreams without him in the most comprehensive fashion imaginable.
I don't blame Pete Best for one moment not being able to 'factor in' that his being a pretty crummy drummer, even today, (and quite dour personality - check out his riveting 'gloss paint' anecdote in this Letterman interview in 1982 on Youtube) probably would have terminally limited his ex-friends future development - the Beatles success aside, even if this was a pub band that never got anywhere, the tale is tragic enough.
I sincerely hope that the rumoured £4 million he received in royalties when recordings he played on were released in 1995 brought him some sort of closure.
Anyway, yeah, that's what I seem to have written this week! ha!
Stu (Lux Lisbon)