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A letter from The Beatles‘ manager is up for auction.

Brian Epstein signed up Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best – the band’s first drummer – in January 1962 after seeing a gig at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.But he fired Best some months later and replaced him with Ringo Starr.The letter was sent to Joe Flannery, a key figure in the Fab Four’s rise to fame.

Mr Flannery, who died last year aged 87, was the band’s booking manager between 1962 and 1963.
On 8 September 1962, Epstein wrote to tell him he had released Best from his contract. He had told the drummer three weeks earlier he had to leave the band.

Epstein wrote: “I read from the Mersey Beat [a Liverpool music publication] Pete Best has now joined The All Stars. I have sent, today, to him a certificate of release from his obligations under contract to myself.”
Epstein added that he sent “our sincere wishes for Pete’s and the group’s continued success”.

The letter was kept by Mr Flannery’s family and is now being sold by his nephew.
Best has previously spoken of how Epstein had told him at a meeting he was being sacked and replaced: “I went in happy as Larry. The last thing on my mind was that I was going to get kicked out of the Beatles,” he told a BBC documentary.
“He (Epstein) said ‘Pete, I don’t know how to tell you this – the boys want you out … It’s already been arranged that Ringo will join the band on Saturday.’
“That was the bombshell. To me, it was like disbelief … I’ll wake up in the morning and this will be all gone.”

The collection, going on sale at Omega Auctions on 27 October, also includes notes from Paul McCartney to Mr Flannery after the band broke up.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather said: “From 1959 onwards, Joe was a close friend and associate of The Beatles and played a major part in guiding them to their meteoric rise to success in 1963.
“It is on record that they all felt bad when Pete was ousted so I am sure it was pleasing for them to see he had joined a new band.”
After playing in a number of groups, Best left the music industry to work as a civil servant for 20 years, before starting the Pete Best Band.

In 1995, he received a substantial payout from sales after The Beatles released Anthology 1, which featured early tracks with Best as drummer, including songs from their record label auditions.

A letter from Paul McCartney to Joe Flannery, part of a collection that will go under the hammer later this month.


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Pete Best had been with the group since 12 August 1960.   Pete Best is fired from the group at 10am at Brian Epstein’s NEMS record shop.

Pete said – (from the “Beatle! The Pete Best Story”) :

“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.’

’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..”


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Pete Best talks about picking yourself up and getting on with it

Drummer Pete Best is explaining, not for the first time, what it was like for him that late summer’s day in 1962 when he was sacked suddenly from The Beatles, a beat combo from Liverpool who were about to become the biggest band the world had ever seen.

Best recalls an uncomfortable-looking band manager Brian Epstein explaining that other band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison didn’t think his drumming was up to scratch, and that they were replacing Best – who’d been with them for two years through those formative, frenetic Hamburg gigging days – with Ringo Starr.

“We were rockers, we were little hardies, we could handle ourselves. But when I got back home and I told my mother what happened, behind the sanctuary of the front door, I cried like a baby,” he recalls.

Anybody over a certain age who hears the name Pete Best will be familiar with the saga of the so-called “fifth Beatle” and the life he lost out on. Rather aptly, we meet in Lost Lane, a music venue off Grafton Street, where he was due to play a gig on March 29th, now cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis. But as soon as we start talking, it’s clear that despite the events of 1962 he doesn’t feel lost, and hasn’t for a very long time. He’s 78 now, and looks back with pride not just on his part in Beatle history, but his resilience too.

‘There came a period in my life when I was like, to hell with what happened yesterday’

At the height of Beatlemania, Best attempted suicide, but he has always denied it was because of depression related to being fired. “You should never ask someone who has tried to take their own life why they did it,” he said. “ I don’t know why I did it. All I know is my mother and my brother Rory found me. My mother gave me such a talking to and I vowed I would never do anything like that again. And I never will.”

How did he cope in a world that never lets anyone forget about The Beatles? “I think if I’d kept reflecting about what happened yesterday, all the time, and it was like a nightmare to me, I would have ended up bitter and twisted. But there came a period in my life when I was like, to hell with what happened yesterday it’s about today and tomorrow.”

In the end being an ex-Beatle, and carrying the weight of the criticism of his former bandmates, gave him purpose, a reason to prove himself. Over the years he had to endure public comments from various band members who critiqued his drumming and aspects of his personality in attempts to justify the sacking.

“You’re the Beatle who got kicked out because you were crap. So there’s always been a point where I’ve had to prove myself. I haven’t talked about it, people make their own impressions about what a drummer is about. So I’ll perform on stage and the audience can make their own mind up. I’m glad to say that the consensus of opinion is yeah, you’re a great drummer, Pete. I’m happy with that.”

He might not be John, Paul, George or even Ringo, but he was still a Beatle, which means it’s still a thrill just to hear him talk about his days in the band, “propping up bars across Hamburg” with “gentle, tender John” – he was closest to Lennon – or having mock fights with the band on stage at The Indra club on The Reeperbahn. Or his enduring fondness for I Saw Her Standing There, one of the first Beatles originals he ever played on drums.

Ireland can lay claim to the former Beatle, which is also a bit fab. His grandfather Major Thomas Shaw, who was stationed in India at the time of the Raj, came from Dublin, while his biological father, a soldier who died when he was a baby, was also Irish.

His half-Irish mother Mona Best has her own place in Beatle history. After she was widowed, Mona married again and travelled to Liverpool, where she set up the Casbah club in the basement of their sprawling home, where The Beatles (as The Quarrymen and later The Silver Beetles) played their first gigs.

Even after her son Pete was sacked from the band, Mona kept in touch with the Beatles. “She was very diplomatic,” says Best. When the cover art was being done for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lennon asked Mona if he could borrow her dad’s army medals, and he wore them on the cover of the album.

The medals are one of hundreds of exhibits in the Magical Beatles Museum on Mathew Street in Liverpool, run by Best’s younger brother Roag. (Roag is central to another bit of Beatles lore. His father is Neil Aspinall, the Beatles driver and later the managing director of Apple Corps. Aspinall had an affair with Mona when he was a lodger in the house and her husband was away.)

He had not seen or spoken to him in decades, but Best still cried when he heard of the murder of his old friend John Lennon in 1980. He has never spoken to any of the Beatles since he was forced out of the band. Reparation of sorts came in 1995 when Aspinall called (“Paul McCartney claims he called me but he didn’t,” says Best) to discuss The Beatles Anthology, which was to include some tracks featuring Best’s drumming, for which he would be paid royalties.
It’s another source of pride for Best that seven of the tracks on Anthology 1 feature his drumming: “Seven out of 60 tracks was quite a lot. And I’d like to think with that amount of tracks over a short period of time, it showed the important role I played. Whether that’s the case or not, I don’t know – you’d have to ask them.”
How much money did he get in royalties? “It wasn’t far short of a million,” he says. The money was welcome, even if, as he says, he was “well set” at that stage of his life, having made a good living from being Pete Best of the Beatles and Pete Best, musician in his own right.

He has his Beatles association to thank for another important part of his story – he’s been married to Kathy for 58 years, after first meeting her at a Beatles gig.

Lennon and Harrison are dead now, while Starr had nothing to do with the decision to replace the drummer. So there’s only one Beatle left who was directly involved in the banishing of Pete Best. Does Best forgive McCartney? “I’ve nothing to forgive him about … they made a decision as young men which was safeguarding their future. Okay, it could have been handled better. I was the fall guy for it, I suffered, but I’m not holding them to task over it. If I’d have been in the same situation and I was another member of the band, maybe I’d have been one of the bad guys.”

“I’ve no regrets,” he continues. “I think I’m a lucky guy. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved as a person, of the examples I’ve set to people to get on with your life, to pick yourself up. I’ve been an inspiration. And I’m proud of that.”




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The Beatles original drummer Pete Best has said that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison continued to “put the boot in” even after they had dismissed him from the band and replaced him with Ringo Starr.

Best (78) first met the Beatles, who were then called The Quarrymen, in 1959 when they played some of their first gigs at his mother’s club, The Casbah, in suburban Liverpool and later joined the band in August 1960 after a phone call from Paul McCartney.
He went on to perform with them over 220 times, including many shows during their long stint in Hamburg. However, in what is perhaps showbusiness’s biggest bad luck story, the rest of the band kicked him out just as super stardom beckoned.

Speaking on the Late Late Show on Friday night, Best, who has Irish relatives in Limerick and Dublin, said, “They could’ve been nicer, they put a load of boots in,” he said.
“In interviews after I was kicked out, they initially said I wasn’t a good enough drummer, then all of a sudden I was anti-social, didn’t talk, moody, slow-witted… Come on, guys, gimme a break. You’ve already kicked me out of the band. Lay off me, just let me get on with my own life.”

Best also recalled the day Beatles manager Brian Epstein called him into his office in 1962 to tell him he was out of the band just as they were about to rocket to worldwide fame.

“Brian was very much to the point, We’d had business meetings before because I handled the business side of things,” Best said.

“I thought it was going to be a brain-picking session. I walked in and Brian wasn’t his usual cool, calm, placid self, he was very agitated and I looked at him and I said ‘whoa, something smells here…’
“We talked around the subject and then he said, ‘Pete, I don’t know how to tell you this – the boys want you out’ and the key words were it’s ‘already been arranged’. I was devastated. I‘d been with them for two years, known them for three, done everything which was required of me. Done the leathers, the cowboy boots, the hair, you name it…

“I wish I knew why they kicked me out. The reason they gave was that I wasn’t a good enough drummer. That’s never held water with me or the people of Liverpool. At that time I was said to be one of the best drummers in Liverpool.”
Best was left to look on as the band became megastars. “Believe it or not when they hit the top of the charts in England it was something I expected but what happened afterwards… No one in their right minds could have reckoned on that. I was like the rest of the world – dumbfounded at how fast they became the icons of the music industry.”

Asked if he was “sickened” by it all, Best said: “No. By this stage I had sort of got over it. I’ll chase them as hard and fast as I can with my own band but that didn’t work out.”

He added: “I have no regrets. It was a wonderful experience to play with the biggest band in showbiz. I don’t think anything will surpass that. I’m proud of my contribution.”

Best never met any of the band again but eventually earned royalties of between one and six million pounds from his performances with them after the release of The Beatles Anthology in 1995.

The drummer is still touring the world with his own band and recently opened the Magical Beatles Museum on Matthew Street in Liverpool, which features over 1000 pieces of Beatles memorabilia, with his brother.

He will also be back in Ireland on March 27 in Wexford’s Riverbank House Hotel and Lost Lane in Dublin on March 29 for an Evening with Pete Best.

Video .. Here.


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Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and original drummer Pete Best, signed the document on 24 January 1962, before achieving fame.

It gave Brian Epstein responsibility for finding the band work, and managing their schedule and publicity.

The document was the first of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Beatles.

Gabriel Heaton, a specialist at Sotheby’s auction house, which was in charge of the auction, said: “Epstein was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality on stage.” “The Beatles had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them,” Mr Heaton added. “Epstein stopped them eating on stage, made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set.”

The contract outlines Epstein’s fee would be 10%, rising to 15% if their earnings should exceed £120 a week. Paul McCartney had negotiated Epstein’s fee down from 20%.Under 21 at the time, McCartney, Harrison and Best had to ask their parents’ consent to sign the contract.After Best left the band, another contract was signed on 1 October 1962 with Ringo Starr as drummer and Epstein taking a bigger percentage of their earnings.

That document has now sold at auction for £275,000, raising money for the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation.

Then a record shop owner and music writer, Epstein discovered the Beatles performing at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in November 1961, remarking on their “star quality”. He extricated them from a German recording arrangement and a label deal with Polydor, and signed them to EMI label Parlophone.


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Pete Best turns up in this new caper about collectors of Fab Four memorabilia 

In 1956 Julia Lennon showed her son John how she played the banjo and he copied her fingering on his cheap guitar. Julia Lennon was killed in a car accident in July 1958 and nobody, it would seem, knows where her banjo is now. Its value to a collector would be immense, but surely not the £5m suggested in this production.
The fate of Julia’s banjo is the premise for a new play written by Rob Fennah and staged at the Epstein Theatre, the former Neptune Theatre renamed after the Beatles’ manager. The experienced cast have been in some of our favourite TV series, the best-known being Mark Moraghan of Holby City.

A Beatles tour guide and ardent fan, Barry Seddon (Eric Potts), finds a letter written by John Lennon in 1962, cryptically describing where he has hidden the banjo. With two friends (Moraghan and Jake Abraham) who run a souvenir store, they attempt to solve the puzzle. But they need to get into the mind of John Lennon to do that, and “he wrote ‘I Am The Walrus’, for fuck’s sake.” The clever solution depends on information that the audience cannot know: it would have been better if we stood a chance of solving it too.

To complicate matters, there is a deceitful Texas dealer Travis (Danny O’Brien) who is determined to steal the banjo. Hampered by his accent, O’Brien’s diction was not too good, which was unfortunate as he had to explain plot points.His wife Cheryl, played by Stephanie Dooley, is assigned to seduce the nerdy Barry, and considering Lennon’s Banjo is marketed as a comedy, the director Mark Heller should have made it more foolish. The night-time digging around Eleanor Rigby’s grave also needed to be more ghoulish, but Richard Foxton is to be commended for his set which mimics the pop art of Peter Blake.

The quest to find the banjo takes in many Beatle locations including the Casbah club, which is now a tourist attraction still belonging to the Best family. Pete Best, the Beatles’ first drummer, now 76, is playing himself at some performances and came on stage to rapturous applause. He looked uncomfortable when questioned by the three sleuths and he drew the biggest laugh of the evening by saying to the audience, “What a gang of knobheads”.

Fennah’s previous play, Twopence To Cross The Mersey, was a massive success in the north-west and undertook a national tour. If the production team could crank up the comedy, Lennon’s Banjo could enjoy similar enduring success.