Out Of Royalties: The Sad Truth About Pete Best
LAS VEGAS - JULY 01: Original drummer for The Beatles, Pete Best performs with The Pete Best Band at the Fest for Beatles Fans 2007 at The Mirage Hotel & Casino July 1, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
What Could’ve Been
1962 wasn’t kind to Pete Best, The Beatles original drummer. Massive wealth and fame were both within his reach until he was suddenly sacked from the band just two years after joining John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. For over fifty years, he’s often remembered as the guy who was almost famous.
In June 1962, The Beatles didn’t just draw the attention of EMI producer George Martin but they impressed him enough to offer them a contract but Martin didn’t think Best’s drumming was suitable for the group. In August of the same year, manager Brian Epstein called Best to his office.
“As soon as I saw him, I could tell there was something up. He said, ‘The boys want you out of the group. They don’t think you’re a good enough drummer.’ I said, ‘It’s taken them two years to find out I’m not a good enough drummer.’ While I was standing there the phone rang. It was Paul asking if I’d been told yet.” – Pete Best
Three days later, Ringo Starr joined the band and as of this writing, is worth $350 million. When The Beatles recorded the White Album, Best worked at a bread factory then became a civil servant. During one of the lowest points in his life, Best even attempted to take his own life. It was his mother and brother who “gave me the most sensible talking-to I’ve ever had.”
From the moment he was fired from The Beatles, not one member attempted to get in touch with him. But after getting over it, Best lived his life sans drama and bitterness. Even after his early retirement, he went back to music and played with his band.
“We do a lot of Sixties stuff, and, of course, Beatle songs. I don’t have a problem with that. I didn’t buy their first record, Love Me Do, but I got later ones, because, quite honestly, they were so good, so different, so brave. And their songs have stood the test of time.”
When the compilation album Anthology 1 was released in 1995, Best received his share of royalties. He never mentioned the amount but some speculated that he got somewhere around $9 million or more.
Pete Best almost made it to the proverbial top of rock ‘n roll. He almost became a legend alongside other Beatles. Does he have regrets, bitterness, anger still inside him? In one interview, he summed it all up:
“Some people expect me to be bitter and twisted, but I’m not. I feel very fortunate in my life. God knows what strains and stresses The Beatles must have been under. They became a public commodity. And John paid for that with his life.”
He may not have the same fame and wealth as his former bandmates but at the end of the day, he’s happy and contented. And isn’t that what we all want?