The Pete Best story is so well known and documented that we will provide only the briefest summary here. Best joined the Beatles in 1960, then spent the next two years slogging it out with them in grimy nightclubs in Liverpool and Hamburg. In 1962, the Beatles got a record contract. Shortly afterwards, Best was fired and replaced with Ringo. The rest, as they say, is history.
Best was understandably bitter and spent the remainder of the decade recording deceptively titled solo albums like Best of the Beatles (the album we are reviewing here). The label, Savage Records, also released The Savage Young Beatles – another album of questionable legality containing 1961 recordings the Beatles made backing singer Tony Sheridan.
|Cool vintage photo of the Beatles, circa 1960|
The music itself is pretty unremarkable – mainly Cavern-era stompers like “Some Other Guy” and a rocked-up version of “Shimmy Like My Sister Kate”. As for Best’s drumming… it’s not bad – at least not substantially worse than many other Liverpool drummers at the time Best was sacked.
So… why did Best get the axe? Conspiracy theories abound, with many claiming the other Beatles were jealous of Best’s popularity. (At the group’s first gig with Ringo, an angry Cavern crowd started a melee in which George Harrison received a black eye.)
But don’t paint Best as a John Bonham-level virtuoso who was dumped because of his good looks. Although Best was a good drummer, Ringo was (and is) a great one.
Moreover, Best is a lot wealthier and better known than if he’d never played with the Fab Four in the first place. He is a much sought-after guest speaker at Beatle-themed conventions, while royalties from the Anthology series keep him supplied with beer money.
*1/2 (out of four)