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The story of the fifth Beatle

1 year ago

The story of the fifth Beatle

Pete Best or the ‘fifth Beatle’ as he is known was replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962

The Beatles were one of the most successful bands in history, and are still, to this day, partly responsible for the influx of millions of tourists visiting Liverpool each year. 

The Fab Four, as they were nicknamed, were pioneers when it came to a new wave of music in the 1960s. But before there was John, Paul, George, and Ringo – there was another Beatle on the scene. 

The band’s original drummer Pete Best, is considered by some to be the “Fifth Beatle” – but he left the band about a year before they rose to stardom with their debut single Love Me Do in 1962. 

Best was born Randolph Peter Scanland in Madras, India, in 1941. His father died during World War II, and his mother was remarried to Johnny Best in 1944, shortly afterwards the family decided to move to Liverpool.

Peter’s mother Mona Best transformed the basement of their family home into the Casbah Coffee Club – which would later become a venue for The Quarrymen (an early incarnation of The Beatles) which featured John, Paul, George, and their drummer at the time Ken Brown. 

Due to a rift in the band, Brown left during the 1950s – this was the catalyst that ensured the change of The Quarrymen into The Beatles. In need of a replacement the band hired Pete Best after he auditioned in 1960. 

Pete Best on Mathew Street. Picture – Liverpool BID Company

The Beatles were growing in popularity by 1962, with a series of successful performances across music venues in Liverpool. The group were successful after an audition for Parlophone Records and were beginning to work on the release of their first album which would be titled Please Please Me. 

George Martin, who was producing the album, had enjoyed the music that he heard, with the exception apparently, of Pete Best’s drumming. Martin told the group that they could continue to use Best onstage, but he had plans to replace Best with a session drummer for the recordings.

The band called a meeting with their manager Brian Epstein and came to the consensus that Best should be fired from the band. It has been claimed that Best was initially one of the favourite members of the group – especially with the ladies due to his good looks – and it is this reason that, according to some sources, led to his expulsion from the group as the other members were jealous of the attention he was receiving. 

Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr – who completed the final line up of The Beatles we know today – in 1962. 

Best went on to join the band Lee Curtis and the All Stars in 1963. Lee later split from the band and they went on to become known as Pete Best and the All Stars. The manager responsible for turning down the Beatles, Mike Smith decided that Best’s new band was the one he was looking for and he made the decision to sign the band up with Decca. 

The band eventually changed their name to The Pete Best Four.

Best retired from playing professionally in 1968 but returned to music in 1988 after a 20 year break. Since returning to music, Best formed the Pete Best band which is still going today.

Visit the Liverpool Beatles Museum here.



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