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The Beatles rocketed to international superstardom soon after they dumped drummer Pete Best. Ringo Starr entered the fray, the band sent its first album, Please Please Me, to the top of the charts in England, and the rest is history. John Lennon’s last words to Best in 1962 were fitting — a boring and simple sendoff to a band member about to lose his job.
John Lennon’s last words to Pete Best were incredibly boring: ‘I’ve got other arrangements’
Being remembered as the person who lost his job before the band found fame doesn’t show it, but Pete Best was instrumental to the early success of The Beatles.
His mother, Mona Best, owned Liverpool’s Casbah Club, a venue they frequently played in the early years. She also managed them briefly. The Beatles’ first drummer performed with them during their extended residencies in Hamburg, Germany. Best’s friend, Neil Aspinall, drove the group to gigs.
Still, when producer George Martin noted Best’s pedestrian drumming skills during an audition, the band moved to fire him. John’s boring last words to Best (per 150 Glimpses of The Beatles author Craig Brown) came when the drummer and Aspinall dropped off Lennon following an Aug. 15, 1962, concert and promised to pick him up in the morning:
“No. I’ve got other arrangements.”
Brian Epstein summoned Best to his office the next day and told him the news the other three Beatles already knew. He was out, Ringo was in.
Best was shocked at being kicked out of the band he had a large hand in shaping. Still, he maintained clarity when Aspinall said he’d quit in solidarity. “Don’t be a fool,” Best said, per Brown. “The Beatles are going places.”
Best didn’t go there with them, but it worked out for both parties in the long run.
Best’s firing worked out great for The Beatles and for the drummer, too
Best’s sudden firing left a harsh aftertaste in his mouth. Without him, The Beatles had two No. 1 albums and a pair of chart-topping singles by the end of 1963. The Fab Four conquered the United States in early 1964 and cemented their status as an all-time great band by the end of the decade.
Best wished he never set eyes on The Beatles as he watched their success from afar. His bitterness and the band’s shame seemed to run deep. The drummer and his former group crossed paths backstage at a gig shortly after. Best hoped to say hello, but John, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison ignored him. Even Ringo blew him off.
Sacking Best might not have been why The Beatles became rich, famous, successful, and influential. Yet upgrading to Ringo gave the band the lift it needed to climb to the top.
His former bandmates and his replacement ignored Best in person, but the living Beatles couldn’t disregard him entirely. The drummer earned millions of dollars in royalties with the 1995 release of Anthology 1, which included recordings of several tracks on which he played. Untethered from The Beatles, Best got back behind the kit and formed the Pete Best Four and Pete Best Combo. Neither group found nearly the same level of success, but the drummer at least proved to himself there was a musical career for him outside the Fab Four.
A terse goodbye became John Lennon’s last words to Pete Best when The Beatles fired him the next day. The band then ignored him when they crossed paths. They never talked about their first drummer. He missed out on the chance of a lifetime when he got fired, but Best recouped millions when his playing appeared on a 1995 compilation. In a way, it worked out for both sides.
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