Before Ringo Starr became The Beatles’ drummer, their original was Pete Best from 1960 to 1962. The musician even played with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison in The Beatles’ first radio broadcast on March 8, 1962. However, he was fired just five months later, missing out on becoming the most successful music act in history.
The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein was asked by the band to dismiss the drummer. After much agonising, he summoned him to his office on August 16, 1962, two days after requesting that Ringo join the band.
As for why he was fired – something Lennon later said they were “cowards” for doing, there were a number of factors at hand.
Before his death a couple of years later, Epstein wrote his 1964 autobiography A Cellarful of Noise, that Lennon, McCartney and Harrison felt Best was “too conventional” to be in The Beatles.
There was also concern over his drumming ability with McCartney being quoted as saying he was “good, but a bit limited”. And according to The Beatles Anthology, Harrison said: “Pete kept being sick and not showing up for gigs. I was quite responsible for stirring things up. I conspired to get Ringo in for good; I talked to Paul and John until they came round to the idea.”
Epstein asked Best to play live with the band until Starr officially joined on August 18, but the drummer never turned up to his last show on the day he was fired.
So Johnny Hutchinson of The Big Three had to fill in last-minute at The Beatles’ show at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester.
Two days later, Starr joined the band and played his first gig as the Fab Four’s new drummer at the Port Sunlight Horticultural Society’s annual show in Birkenhead.
This took place 60 years ago today and Sir Ringo, 82, has shared a picture of a framed ticket for the event on his Instagram captioned: “And a great night was had by all peace and love.”
The piece of Beatles history was labelled: “And God said… ‘let there be drums!’ On August 18, 1962, for the first time, The Beatles were officially John, Paul, George and Ringo. Following the sacking of Pete Best, The Beatles were quick to recruit their new drummer. Ringo Starr wasn’t a stranger to the band, having stood in for them on several occasions in Hamburg and Liverpool, where he primarily played for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Following a two-hour rehearsal they played at the Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight from 10pm, on the occasion of the local horticulture society’s 17th annual dance. The capacity for Hulme Hall was 450 but, due to the popularity of The Beatles, it was unofficially enlarged to 500 when they performed.”
Following Ringo’s first show with The Beatles at Liverpool’s Cavern Club on August 19, Best fans were not happy. They held vigils outside his home and by the club shouting, “Pete forever! Ringo never!”
In fact, Harrison ended up getting a black eye from one of the fans and Epstein had to have a bodyguard for a period of time.
After leaving The Beatles, Best started his own band called the Peter Best Four and joined other bands before working as a civil servant for 20 years and later forming the Pete Best Band.