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.
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