Thursday, 11 July 2013
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PETE BEST TALK WITH BEATLES MAGAZINE
Pete is a very simple and kind guy, a very friendly and personable fellow,even though he is part of a great story. He was a former member of the best group in the music history. He has no resentments and no hard feelings towards his former colleagues. He answered all of my questions. He has no trouble in meeting Paul and Ringo, even though he knows this is not easy and it doesn´t depend only on him. He also talked directly about his point of view of his departure from the fab four, in a very final version.
We talked about many things, and this gave me the opportunity to spend a great time with him and to get to know more about the beginning of the Beatles…
Lovely Rita: Pete, you were once a Beatle, you will always be a part of the Beatles, you spent a lot of time together with John, Paul, George and Stu, a lot of time. You are a big part of the story and you are the one that knew them best at that time. Can you tell me what it´s your perception of each one of them in those early years?
Pete Best: I will start with John first, because we were friends in The Beatles. Close to John, ok, close to my heart (Pete puts his hand on his chest) I was as close in the very early days to observe John very well. He was the leader in the very beginning in Hamburg. We were simply friends and we had the chance to travel together and ended up talking about girlfriends and drinking together back in Liverpool. You know, let me tell you something about the another side of John Lennon, he just seemed at the same time a very tender guy and someone who was always watching everything around. And we just got together and it felt complete for me… and you know, how was John, a great musician, a leader and a friend.
Ok, next Paul McCartney ….Macca or Sir Paul, (Pete rises his arms cheerfully). Great musician from the very early days, very much into public relationships. Great performance skills and always longing to be the center of attraction. Ok, even on stage.
We were fine, we used to drink and socialize, which meant getting to know girls in Hamburg and all the things we did in those early days. Paul was the guy which everyone knew back home in Liverpool. Hoping to do it in Hamburg,not too much… but, you know, we had got a contract, and you know…And he gets to be well known, and now he is one of the biggest entrepreneur of the music industry. I think he stood out from the very beginning in the early days and his music reached the top since the early years, through the seventies and until now.
About George, little George. There is a funny thing I remember from The Beatles, George was quite a guitar man. When he first entered the group in the very early years, he wanted to be the very best guitar man in the group and when all that stuff of songwriting credits of Lennon-McCartney started to develop, he wanted to be a songwriter too. He was a young man, at the perfect stage of his life to try to be perfect with the guitar, to be a good musician. Like I´ve said before, I think he wanted perfection. But he is no longer among us anymore. Anyway, we want to remember him as the best guitar musician.
Stu…everyone knew Stu was a brillant painter. But I defending Stu, he was really good playing bass guitar. Old rock and roll was simple in those days… bass and drums coordinated well in the band, and the band played great. And he also got a beautiful woman that we meet in Hamburg, Astrid Kircherr. This made us feel so jealous, because we all wanted something like it.
Lovely Rita: Could you give me some details of the recording sessions at Decca? Did you agree with the song list? Did you wanted to play other songs, instead? Brian (Epstein) selected the songs…
Pete Best: Decca was the biggest record company in London, and Brian Epstein our manager, told us in december 31st, we had got an appointment for the first day in January. And selected the material we would use to impress Decca. So we concentrated on country westerns, on Carl Perkins,and he also told us not to get drunk… but we did get drunk, because it was new year´s eve in Trafalgar Square. We stayed there until 2:00am, and of course we got late for the appointment at Decca. Brian was angry because this was a big occasion for us. And we didn´t know that Mike Smith, the operator was late too because he had been celebrating too. We spend the day at the studio. We recorded 14 or 15 songs, we only did one or two takes of each in the audition. And at the end of it we felt very happy and MIke Smith said: “You have got the contract!”. So we went out to celebrate… (Laughter…and Pete raises an imaginary bottle close to his mouth as if he is drinking from it wildly! … more laughter…)… When you listen carefully to the bootleg Decca session tapes, you realize that even though we knew we were playing ok, we made some mistakes, bad voices…
Lovely Rita: What memories do you have of the time in between 1960 to 1962?
Pete Best: Oh, I have a many memories… wonderful memories… it was a wonderful time back in the sixties. The shows at The Casbah, the trip to Hamburg, the recordings. Beautiful years, and so, and so, and so….ha ha ha (laughs). Too many favourite memories. It was a wonderful time.
Lovely Rita: How was the experience of recording with Tony Sheridan?
Pete Best: Tony Sheridan was a great musician, I remember “My Bonnie” was a great song, great recording. For us it was a great experience, recording at the studio in Hamburg. the first album. We provided backing music for a great musician. The great Tony Sheridan was something very special for us. We had really a good time.
Lovely Rita: All The Beatles change the hairstyle…and you?
Pete Best: I never refused, they never asked me.
Lovely Rita: Pete, when you left the group, did this change your life…
Pete Best: Yes, it changed my life. I can say I learned not to be so innocent. I put what I learned into practice… I have nothing to forgive The Beatles for what happened long ago. Now I travel around the world and no one can kick me out of my own band. I don´t have fear of playing with Paul or Ringo, though I doubt such a session would ever happen.
Lovely Rita: What is your final version of your departure?
Pete Best: I wish I knew!!… (kidding)… there maybe so many reasons. Initially it was said that I was not a good drummer, ok, that´s rubbish. Then the people in Liverpool who knew me for playing drums, realized this wasn´t true. Then other people started thinking about another reasons, and they thought maybe there was jealousy, I was too good looking, hairstyle, antisocial, you know, not so friend with the others. The people would make their own opinion of it. That was 50 years ago… there is only one person alive who knows this particular answer. And that person is Paul. Ok, so then I suggest you seek the chance to ask Paul directly this question. He might give us the definitive answer. As I´m concerned it´s something that happened many years ago. I don´t think about it anymore, you know. If Paul and I would get together again I don´t think we would talk about why I left the group back then. We are both grandparents now, that is something we could talk about now. I am not concerned about the people out there who is still trying to find out the real reasons why I left The Beatles, because I´m enjoying my life now, and that happened 50 years ago.
Lovely Rita: Which is your favorite Beatles album?
Pete Best: Umm… I would have liked to play at all (laughter)… the White Album, yes the White Album. Because I think it is the most diverse of all… the most various of all their records.
Lovely Rita: What was you reaction to John´s dead?
Pete Best: My reaction was exactly like it was for the rest of the world. We were in shock. I couldn´t believe Mark Chapman did it. When I first heard the news because of time differences, I didn´t believe it. Unfortunately this happened just at the same time when John was coming back to the music industry.
Lovely Rita:What kind of music do you listen besides rock and roll?
Pete Best: Yeah, lots of music, Latin American, Jazz, Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Country, Bluegrass, and of course rock and roll… cause you know, Rock is what I do and we play this kind of music with my band.
Lovely Rita: Yes Pete, of course!! (Laughter)
Lovely Rita: Thank you so much Pete, it´s been an honour to talk with you.
Pete Best: Thank you it´s a pleasure to be with you, I hope to see you again and great page.
Lovely Rita: Thank you again Pete.
Afterwards I talked with Roag, Pete´s brother and Neil Aspinal´s son – which gently wrote this words for Beatles Magazine:
Personal interview and Photos by Lovely Rita. Thank you so much Pete and Roag.