The Day Pete Best Was Fired Apr 22, 2008 22:06:10 GMT -5
Post by yerblues1968 on Apr 22, 2008 22:06:10 GMT -5
Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney
April 16, 1962, is a date forever etched in Pete Best's memory. It was the day he was fired.
"We played both the noontime and evening gigs at the Cavern on August 15," recalls Pete. "I remember after we finished the evening performance, I asked John if he would like a lift to the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester, where we were booked for the next day. John and I strolled out of the Cavern together and he said: 'No, I will go on my own.' Then we parted ways. There was nothing unusual in this, as I presumed he had another ride. When I got home there was a note from Mom that Brian wanted to see me in his office the next morning.
"When I arrived the next morning, there was a look on his face I could not explain. Something was up but what he said to me was the last thing on my mind--or rather let me say, it really never entered my mind."
Epstein said: "I've got some news for you. The boys want you out and Ringo in," referring to Ringo Starr.
Pete was speechless but managed to ask why.
"They don't think you're a good enough drummer," answered Epstein.
"Why has it taken two years for them to decide that my drumming isn't good enough?" asked Pete. "I considered myself as good, if not better than Ringo. Does Ringo know about this yet?"
"He's joining on Saturday," said Epstein.
"Well, if that's the way it is, then that's it," said Pete, and walked out of the room.
Epstein followed Pete into the hall and asked if he would stay with the group until Ringo arrived. Pete didn't answer.
Neil Aspinall, the road manager, was waiting outside for Pete and one look told him that something was wrong.
"What's happened?" asked Aspinall. "You look as if you've seen a ghost."
"They kicked me out," answered Pete.
Bill Harry broke the shocking news in the August 23 issue of Mersey Beat. MERSEY BEAT EXCLUSIVE STORY--BEATLES CHANGE DRUMMER! "Ringo Starr [former drummer with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes] has joined The Beatles, replacing Pete Best on drums. Ringo has admired The Beatles for years and is delighted with his new engagement. Naturally he is tremendously excited about the future.
"The Beatles comment, 'Pete left the group by mutual agreement. There were no arguments or difficulties, and this has been an entirely amicable decision.'
"On Tuesday, September 4th, The Beatles will fly to London to make recordings at EMI Studios."
The article featured a photo of Pete.
During an interview Bill Harry gave a different account of what was going on.
"The article I wrote for Mersey Beat," said Harry, "was mild and not really a true story of what actually happened. One thing I never did print in the paper was the fact that I received many letters from irate fans demanding that Pete be returned to the group.
"Hundreds of girls came to my office and signed petitions. The popularity of Pete Best was strong and the fans who followed the Beatles' Cavern appearances through 1961 and 1962 were up in arms."
According to many who were present, the main reason for sacking Pete can be summed up in one word--jealousy. John, Paul, and George were extremely jealous of Pete's ability to attract girls. Too many female fans openly acknowledged Pete as the group's leader and the most handsome Beatle.
Another reason for Pete's dismissal concerned his stage presence. He was reserved and silent while the other three were wild and witty. Pete just didn't fit in.
Pete's numerous fans were not about to accept idly the reality of their idol being dumped--especially since the group was finally beginning to achieve success at local clubs, along with BBC radio shows, tours in Germany, and a recording contract with a major record company.
It was too much for Pete's fans to swallow. They marched along the streets, carrying protest signs, and shouting their scornful opinions at every Beatle concert.
Although John, Paul, and George received a lot of abuse, Pete's irate fans saved their greatest wrath for Brian Epstein, who suddenly found himself driven into a corner with a tiger on his heels. He couldn't walk the short distance from NEMS to the Cavern without protection, and refused to enter the club without bodyguards. The angry fans even damaged his new car.
On August 19, the Beatles arrived at the Cavern for their first appearance with Ringo Starr. He had been officially welcomed into the group the preceding day.
On stage, George introduced Ringo to the crowd. After the show the Beatles walked outside, where angry Pete Best fans were waiting with signs and chanting, "Pete Best forever--Ringo Never!" A scuffle began and during the battle, George Harrison received a black eye.
Alas, all of the fans' unhappiness could not alter the undeniable fact that the Beatles were now John-Paul-George-and-Ringo, and those were the names that would become known to the world eighteen months later.
George Martin was aware that Ringo Starr had replaced Pete Best. When Pete was fired, Mona Best called Martin to see if he had influenced the Beatles' decision. Martin assured her that such was not the case.
"I never suggested that Pete Best must go." said Martin. "All I said was that for the purposes of the Beatles' first record I would rather use a session man. I never thought that Brian Epstein would let him go. He seemed to be the most salable commodity as far as looks went.
"It was a surprise when I learned that they had dropped Pete," adds Martin. "The drums were important to me for a record, but they didn't matter much otherwise. Fans don't pay particular attention to the quality of drumming."
But Martin wasn't going to take chances on a drummer he had never heard. He decided to audition Ringo while John, Paul, and George rehearsed two songs tentatively selected for the first record on the Parlophone label.
As the boys practiced, George Martin eyed each Beatle and wondered if it was possible for one of them to be the new Cliff Richard. There wasn't a producer alive in England who didn't dream of discovering someone to top Cliff Richard, who had reigned as the number-one British male vocalist for the past four years.
The first song recorded that day was "How Do You Do It," composed by Mitch Murray and published by Dick James. James had asked Martin to consider putting the song on the B side of the Beatles' first release. Martin liked the song and thought it could be a big hit for his new group.
The Beatles, however, had other ideas. Martin was suddenly feeling opposition from John, Paul, and George, who wanted to record their own compositions.
"In due time," Martin told them, "when you can write a song as good as this."
The Beatles had just started a revolution in the recording industry. They couldn't read a note of music, but were trying to tell a seasoned producer what songs were best for them to record!
Martin threw a signal to the engineer, Norman Smith, to stop. Smith shut down the tape recorders and the red light went out.
George Martin began to explain the intricacies of producing records to the four lads. He informed them that recording sessions were very expensive and that planning for each session was essential. A record could be produced in stages by recording a music track first and later dubbing in a voice track. Studio engineers were very good at editing and mixing various tracks to produce a flawless master. So, Martin said, instead of taking chances and wasting time and money, he would make all of the decisions, then added: "Right. Is there anything you don't like?"
Silently, the boys looked at one another, then George (Harrison) said, "Yeah, I don't like your tie."
Finally, Martin realized that they were not making any progress. He told them to go practice during the week and return for another session on September 11.
The Beatles flew back to Liverpool that evening. Their first recording session had been a flop, but John, Paul, and George had managed to overcome their nervousness.
On September 11 the boys summoned their courage and returned to London for their second EMI session (usually referred to as the first).
Unknown to Ringo, a studio drummer named Andy White was standing in the wings. Since producing a session was very costly--a fact constantly belabored by studio brass--Martin wanted an experienced drummer available in case Ringo's peformance was inadequate. On many occasions a studio musician will be called in to stand by and never be used. Unfortunately for Ringo, this was not to be one of those occasions.
Instantly, Ringo felt that they were doing a "Pete Best" on him. It was obvious that Ringo was nervous and frightened while in the studio, but he had become a Beatle to play drums--for concerts and records. Now he felt that although he was fine for clubs and concerts, they didn't want to use him on recordings. Martin really wasn't satisfied with Ringo's ability . "He hit good and hard and used the tom-tom well, but he couldn't do a roll to save his life."
It was a shattering blow to Ringo's ego but he went along and played the maracas during the first take of "P.S. I Love You." On a second take he exchanged the maracas for a tambourine and banged it on every third beat.
After the second take was done, Martin was confident that a salable record could be achieved by the delicate mixing of a sound engineer.
For the most part, Ringo had remained silent during the session and made no objection to relinquishing his job to Andy White. The Beatles knew when to keep quiet. Martin had authority and their immediate recording future could dissolve without the support of the influential producer.
The Beatles had recorded their first commercial record and left the studio shortly after one o'clock in the morning of September 12.
During an interview with the author, Pete Best offered his real thoughts about the Beatles' success in 1962.
"I really could not get them off my mind," confesses Pete. "Everywhere we went before August was John, Paul, George and Pete. Now, whenever I saw the Beatles mentioned, it was John, Paul, George and Ringo. I'd be playing (Lee Curtis and the All Stars) the Cavern or the Majestic, and the Beatles would be playing the same clubs the very next night. I never was there to see them, but I knew they were performing and would just stay home to try to think things clear."
Pete's frustration increased significantly when "Love Me Do" was released.
"The song was on the radio all the time,' says Pete. "They were going up and I was continuing in a group not as popular, doing the same old gigs I'd done up to August with the Beatles. I still had a large following of girls, but it wasn't the same without the Beatles. It was eating at me something terrible and I couldn't show it openly."
pp. 77-89. "How They Became The Beatles," Gareth L. Pawlowski.