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Old Jul 23, 2003, 07:56 AM   #1
Rocky Raccoon
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Join Date: Feb 19, 2003
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Default Beatle at the beginning

Beatle at the beginning

By Steve Marinucci
Mercury News
Tue, Jul. 22, 2003

The Beatles that Americans saw on their TV screens Feb. 9, 1964,
looked a lot different from the group Pete Best knew.

In earlier days, they fancied leather outfits, not the tailored,
collarless suits they wore on that first appearance on ``The Ed
Sullivan Show.''

Then, there was the group itself. Two members were missing from the
band Best knew. One was Stu Sutcliffe, the band's bassist before Paul
McCartney. Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage in April 1962.

The other was Best himself. He'd been the Beatles' drummer since 1960
and had played on the well-known ``My Bonnie'' session in Hamburg.
But in August 1962, he was kicked out of the band and left to watch
the Beatles' rise to fame from the sidelines.

Today, Best, 61, is touring the United States with his own group, the
Pete Best Band, which includes his brother, Roeg. The band plays
Campbell's King's Head Tavern on Wednesday.

Besides his brother, who plays drums in the band with Best, the band
also includes lead guitarists Phil Melia and Mark Hay, bass player
Dave Deevey and singer Chris Cavanagh. (The Campbell show will also
include a pre-show question-and-answer session with Best and an
autograph session afterward.)

Best calls the pre-fame Beatles ``more powerhouse, more
charismatic.'' And though it may seem strange today to see the
Beatles in leather jackets, he says they fit the group's Hamburg
lifestyle, when they played six- and seven-hour sets six to seven
nights a week.

``We found that the stage jackets basically just disintegrated along
with the rest of the stage clothes. Leather was . . . something we
could utilize onstage and live in it offstage as well. It served a
dual purpose,'' he says.

Best sang a few songs during his days as drummer, among them
``Matchbox'' (also sung on the BBC radio program by John Lennon and
on record by Ringo Starr) and ``Peppermint Twist.''

``That was about it. That's all they could persuade me to sing at
that time.''

There are rumors of rare live recordings and possibly video of the
Beatles circulating among collectors with him on them. Best says he
doesn't know for sure, but says, ``We're not always aware of what
people have recorded.''

Of all the Beatles, Best says he was closest to Lennon. ``John was
very much what the people saw, the acidic human person,'' he says.
But he was ``a very tender and a very loving person as well.''

McCartney was ``very much at the early stage a public relations man,
and I think he still is, you know,'' he says.

And George Harrison? ``George was very much into his music. He spent
most of his time trying to improve his guitar technique.''

He describes Sutcliffe as ``very much, again, a quiet guy. Smallest
in the band stature-wise, but we all knew deep down he was very much
into art, even though he loved the Beatles 200 percent then.''

Film is a love story

Best calls the 1993 movie ``Backbeat,'' which revolved around the
group's early days, ``a good movie,'' though he says it was more
``the wonderful love story of Astrid Kirchherr and Stu Sutcliffe, and
we were there while this was just going on.''

On Jan. 1, 1962, John, Paul, George and Pete were booked into a Decca
Records studio for an audition. (Decca wouldn't sign them to a
contract.) Five of the tracks were later released on the Beatles'
``Anthology 1'' CD.

Best recalls, ``I remember that we'd celebrated the night before,
because it was New Year's Eve. And we got to the recording session
late, which Brian'' -- manager Brian Epstein -- ``wasn't too happy
about. . . . We were fortunate because Mike Smith, who was going to
be the A&R man, he'd been celebrating as well, so he landed up late.''

When asked about the day he was sacked from the Beatles, Best is
hesitant, but then recalls.

``I was called into Brian Epstein's office. We'd played the Cavern
the night before. . . . After talking around the subject for a while,
he turned around to me and said, `Pete, I don't really know how to
turn 'round and tell you this. You're out of the band on Saturday.'
That's as fast as it happened. There was no forewarning. It was done.
The boys weren't there, so I couldn't discuss it and find out what
their views were. But that was it. One day I was a Beatle and next
day I was out.''

`Very murky' decision

Best says he has never learned the person really responsible for his
firing. ``Over the years . . . I tried to find out. It's still very
gray and very murky.''

In 1964, U.S. TV audiences saw Best on the prime-time game show
``I've Got a Secret,'' hosted by Garry Moore. Best's secret, of
course, was that he'd been a Beatle.

In addition to the current tour, Best is also co-author (with
brothers Roeg and Rory) of the recently published ``The Beatles: The
True Beginnings,'' a coffee-table book filled with rare photos
celebrating the Casbah Club, a Liverpool coffee club opened by his
late mother, Mona, in 1959. McCartney contributes an introductory
quote about the club to the book.

Though Americans know the Cavern as the birthplace of the Beatles,
Best says that title should go to the Casbah.

``It was the catalyst for the Mersey Beat sound long before the
Cavern,'' Best says. ``The Casbah was the birthplace of the Beatles,
the birthplace for many of the bands in Liverpool.''

Best has plans for more books -- a prequel detailing more of his
mother's early story and another with his more recent history. The
first, he hopes, will be published late in 2004. The family also
plans to re-open the long-closed Casbah Club in early 2004, complete
with the name ``John'' scratched in the wall by Lennon, as pictured
in the book.

Though Best says he and McCartney haven't met up again since those
early days, he'd be glad to get together with his former bandmate.

``And as far as I'm concerned, the door's always been open. But I
hope that one of these days we will meet up. It'd be nice to meet up
again after all this time.''

Pete Best Band

Where: King's Head Pub, 201 Orchard City Drive, Campbell

When: 6:30 and 9 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: $20; (408) 871-2499 or through Streetlight Records in San

at (888) 330-7776.
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Old Jul 24, 2003, 04:16 PM   #2
Dr. Robert
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Join Date: May 03, 2003
Location: Abbey Road
Posts: 1,085
Default Re: Beatle at the beginning

it is probably something we will never fully know the story of.i do think ringo had a certain charm and that maybe pete didnt and that is why. amny of the tings i have read the writers feel pete would have cost the band fame and they would not have become the world wide band they did. but who knows for sure, maybe the shadow
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Old Jul 24, 2003, 05:12 PM   #3
Sun King
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Join Date: Mar 02, 2003
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 13,890
Default Re: Beatle at the beginning

Poor Pete. It must've been so tough for him to be booted, then watch his previous band mates rocket to the top of the charts such a short time later. And to never really find out why he was kicked out! That's gotta be tough.
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