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Old Jul 08, 2002, 09:21 PM   #1
shyGirl
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Default Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...type=printable

Contrary to how rock 'n' roll history books often portray him, Pete Best insists that he is more than a footnote. Best, 60, believes that he is, and always will be, a Beatle.

When considering that his rock 'n' roll resume includes spending 1960-62 as the original drummer of the Beatles during their most scandalous days of debauchery in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany, it would seem that he has a particularly strong case.

Mick Gast, 55, a promoter from Sonoma who is presenting the Pete Best Band's North Bay debut at the Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma on Thursday, certainly won't argue.

"Pete grew up with those guys, and he lived the life of a Beatle," Gast said. "I just don't think Pete Best was ever given the credit that he deserves."

During Best's two years as a Beatle, he performed in more than 1,000 gigs; was accused of arson and deported from Germany along with Paul McCartney and John Lennon; shared sorrow in the death of a band mate; witnessed the loss of George Harrison's virginity; and performed on the first recordings of the biggest-selling pop group of all time -- including "My Bonnie" with Tony Sheridan.

That his role as a Beatle is usually downplayed remains as mysterious to Best as his ouster from the band on June 6, 1962, only weeks before the burst of Beatlemania. (He was replaced by Ringo Starr.) Theories about the reason for his sacking have ranged from his drumming skills to his haircut.

"It's always been that 'Pete never spoke,' " a talkative and jovial Best said over the telephone. He was once infamously described as "mean, moody and magnificent," by McCartney. "I was tagged as the loner, stony-faced one who couldn't communicate and had no sense of humor. But hey, give me a chance, and I'll talk and laugh the legs off of you."

A chance was exactly what Best felt robbed of when his best friends abandoned him to become the most influential rock group in the universe. To add insult to injury, the band had manager Brian Epstein break the news to him.

In an interview with journalist Hunter Davies years later, Lennon admitted: "We were cowards when we sacked him. We made Brian do it. But if we'd told Pete to his face, that would have been much nastier. . . . It would have probably ended in a fight."

While the Beatles spent the 1960s redefining rock 'n' roll, Best fought to establish his own career in show business. After several singles, one album and a support slot for a Roy Orbison tour, the Pete Best Combo quietly disbanded, largely due to lukewarm success.

The low point of Best's life was when he considered suicide during a bout with depression in the mid-1960s, which he writes about in his autobiography, "Beatle! The Pete Best Story."

Best's older brother, Rory, stopped him, and the moment served as a major turning point in his life. Shortly after, Best left the music business to pursue a career in the British civil service and maintain a healthy family life as a husband and father and "a normal guy."

"But I always said that once I finished with my service I'd look for other things. What was supposed to be a one-off concert for a Beatles convention in Liverpool, England, back in 1988, ended up in a fantastic reception that sucked me right back into music," Best said.

Since his return to show business in 1988, he has released four CDs (not counting the 10 tracks included on 1995's "Beatle Anthology I") has toured the world three times and has written two books. Next month, he releases his third book, "The Beatles: The True Beginnings," to coincide with the reopening of his mother's Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles originally rehearsed and performed before it closed in 1962.

In February, Gast journeyed to Liverpool on what he described as a necessary pilgrimage.

The longtime Beatles fan explored the birthplace of his favorite band for five weeks, visiting landmarks such as Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and the original homes of the Fab Four. Gast even rode the same bus line that the Beatles would take to the infamous Cavern Club where the then five-piece band periodically performed. At a George Harrison memorial gate, Gast hung up a sign that read "Here Comes the Sun -- from Sonoma, California," in honor of the guitarist.

All of that considered, Gast's greatest Beatle memory was when he became a part of Beatle history. While checking out the Cavern Club, and with hopes of promoting a promising young North Bay band called Dr!ven, Gast befriended two of Best's band members.

Gast and the young Liverpudlian musicians struck up a conversation in the club and he discovered that the Pete Best Band had planned a tour of the East Coast, he quickly offered his services to book them gigs in Northern California.

By the end of the week Gast was in touch with Roag Best, Pete's younger brother and now band mate. The result is three Bay Area shows this week in Sonoma, San Rafael and San Francisco.

The Pete Best Band now consists of two drummers, Pete and Roag, and four young musicians, Mark Hay, Phil Melia, Chris Cavanagh and Dave Deevey.

"We're very much a powerhouse-sounding group, influenced by the grassroots greats of yesteryear -- Motown, Tamla records -- all the good stuff," Best says.

Expect to hear a few originals as well as some classic Beatles tunes that Best performed on.

"They're a great band," Gast promises. "The Pete Best Band obviously have a lot to live up to. But I have a hunch that Pete has gotten to a point where he let all that go. Now he's just having fun."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q: What are you most proud of in your musical career?
A: Being a survivor.

Q: What is your biggest regret?

A: Don't have any.

Q: How would you most like to be remembered?

A: As a good father and husband

Q: Did you compose any songs with The Beatles?

A: No. Only some arrangements.

Q: When was the last time you spoke with John? Paul? George?


A: 1962.

Q: Who is the greatest rock drummer of all time?

A: John Bonham.

Q: Which Beatle were you closest to?

A: John.

Q: Favorite Beatles song?

A: I Saw Her Standing There.

Q: How do you remember Stuart Sutcliffe, (original bass player for the Beatles, who died from a brain tumor at age 21)?

A: As a prolific artist. It annoys me how he's been tagged as not a good bass player. Total misconception. Maybe he wasn't the best, but he gave 200 percent. Stu was a gentleman. A very tender, loving sweet guy.

Q: Do you have any insight on the Lennon/Sutcliffe homosexual affair rumor?

A: No.

Q: What question are you tired of being asked?

A: The above.

Q: Were the Hamburg days really as sex, drugs and rock n' roll as they've been portrayed?

A: Yes. We were 17 years old in the biggest red light district in Europe. We thought, "My god, we're a part of it. Let's just enjoy it and have fun with it."



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Old Jul 09, 2002, 03:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thanks for the article, shyGirl!

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 04:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thats realy neat. Thanks luv!

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 04:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Interesting article. The one thing that kind of bugs me is that if they (esp. John) were good mates of his, why did he never try to contact them to find out what really happened? Or, why didn't one of them ever contact him to apologize? Guess we'll never know.

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 05:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thanks for that shygirl, it's always interesting to hear about people that were in the Beatles inner circle

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 10:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

I found the update on Pete interesting. In 1993 he was interviewed on Oprah.

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 01:24 PM   #7
 
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

i heard he asks a lot of money for an interview.
poor pete, imagine how he must have felt while the beatles were conquering the world...
he should be mentioned in guinness book as the "unluckiest" man in the history.


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Old Jul 09, 2002, 01:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thanks for the article!

My friends in the Merseyside area often see Pete & said he's doing well! Always nice to hear!

FT

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 02:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thanks for the article. I was going to try and see Pete when he came through Mobile a couple of weeks ago, but I was unable to go.

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Old Jul 09, 2002, 03:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Great article Shy Girl!
I was wondering how Pete was doing.Sounds like he's doing alright.Good for him!

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Old Jul 10, 2002, 09:37 AM   #11
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

I remember Pete said on the Oprah! show he was suicidal in 1964 because he was a heartbeat from being a part of the world's number one band. Poor Pete.

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Old Jul 11, 2002, 06:08 PM   #12
 
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

!!! beatlebangs! i feel like a suicidal now!
you always write things that leave me sad!
(kidding!)
is this (pete´s story) really true???
did you actually see him saying this?


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Old Jul 12, 2002, 04:35 AM   #13
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thanks for the article on Pete.

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Old Jul 12, 2002, 04:58 AM   #14
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Yeah, I saw Pete on Oprah! back in 1993. It was an interesting, albeit sad interview.

shyGirl, thanks for the article. It is always interesting to get updates on Pete and wonder about what might have been.

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Then we will remember things we said today. Yeah.
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Old Jul 12, 2002, 10:09 AM   #15
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

I met Pete about 10 years ago at a memorabilia show in New Jersey...he was charging $10 apiece for autographs! I thought he was very nice, but he hardly said a word to anyone...he certainly did not have the charisma and charm that the other Beatles did, that's for sure! A nice man, of not particularly sparkling personality -- that's what I remember.

As a footnote, he still lives in the same house in Liverpool, and he and his brother Roag have reopened the Casbah Club in the basement recently. I have a couple of friends who have been there.

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Old Jul 12, 2002, 03:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Great article, Stephanie - thanks for sharing.

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Old Jul 13, 2002, 06:30 AM   #17
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Thanks for reprinting the article. Pete's book is pretty good, and he was pleasant when I met his at the Casbah back in the late 80's on a Beatles tour. I think Lynner had a good point though. If he was "good" friends with John, why didn't he try and contact him after '62 and find out the truth as to why they kicked him out?

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Old Jul 13, 2002, 08:05 AM   #18
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Good questions, KJ. I have also wondered the same thing.

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Then we will remember things we said today. Yeah.
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Old Jul 14, 2002, 06:57 AM   #19
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

I guess only Paul and Ringo can say what really happened with Pete. The story has always been that he "just didn't fit in" with the rest. So maybe that's all there was to it. Or maybe the rumor that he was getting all the attention from the girls was true too and they were jealous, who knows? But if that's the case, then I think John would have gotten rid of Paul too!! I think they all got their fair share though. You look at videos of their concerts and there's a fair amount of screaming for all 4 of them. I love that scene in AHDN when Ringo gets the bulk of the mail, that's funny!!!

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Old Jul 14, 2002, 07:24 AM   #20
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Default Re: Pete Best: once a Beatle, always a Beatle

Good points. I think it was the dynamics within the group that helped determine Pete's ouster.

With regard to AHDN, I LOVED that part where Ringo got the majority of the mail and the old dude bags his "invite to the gambling club." That movie is a CLASSIC! It was and remains my favorite Beatle film today.

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Then we will remember things we said today. Yeah.
-- Beatles, 1964

Read www.rooftopsessions.com for high caliber Beatles fan fiction.

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