Before Beatlemania, There Was Pete Best

Before Beatlemania, There Was Pete Best

Hammering out a sound reminiscent of the 1960s heyday of rock and roll, Pete Best is shrugging off the label of the disgruntled ex-Beatle, as he settles into the comfort of being a touring musician with the Pete Best Band, which is coming back to Jaxx on July 15.

The day that will live in infamy for Best was Aug. 18, 1962, when Beatles agent Brian Epstein broke the bad news that Best was being replaced by Ringo Starr as the Beatles' drummer. Best's mother owned a Liverpool night club called the “Casbah,” where the Silver Beatles evolved into the Beatles and started a music trend that would change history. The band was on the brink of releasing "Love Me Do," which soared on the charts just after Best was let go.

"Love Me Do” was one of the tracks we laid down," Best said.

He was immediately approached by Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, a band that Ringo Starr, aka Richard Starkey, had just left, but Best turned down the opportunity.

At the time, it was a big moment in the music world, and rumors flew around that Best didn't play as well; Best was described as shy and reserved, while the other Beatles were "witty, brash and exuberant," according to "The Complete Beatles Chronicle" by Mark Lewisohn.

At any rate, Best puts it into context.

"That happened 40 years ago," Best said. "There comes a time when you have to put that behind you."

After the Beatles, Best went to Lee Curtis and the All Stars for a few years and left the music world, before forming the Pete Best Band in 1989. But the Beatles experience caught up with Best in a good way, and when the “Beatles Anthology I” came out, he got recognition and money that he wasn't counting on.

"It was something I wasn't expecting," Best said.

FOR THOSE at Jaxx looking for a "best of" song list from the Beatles’ early days, with twangy guitars and mop top wigs, they will be disappointed but not shortchanged from the '60s sound.

"We're not a copy band," Best said. "We play music that started in my era."

Although their song list does include several Beatles songs, Best insists that his band plays them in their own style as well. The 60-something-year-old musician, with a band consisting of members that weren't even around when the Beatles were playing, is still having a good time with the music, though.

"I wouldn't be doing it otherwise," Best said.

This is the second time Best has been to Jaxx, and he focuses on cramming as many shows as possible into a three-week road tour, before regrouping in Liverpool and doing it all again.

"It's easier on us to pack 14 or 15 gigs in a three-week tour," he said.

THE REST of the band is from Liverpool as well, and Best calls his hometown a hot spot for musicians.

"They're all Liverpool lads," he said. "It always has [been a music haven]. Before that [Beatlemania], there was a big music scene in Liverpool."

Jaxx is a must on the band’s tour list, according to Chris Cavanagh, tour manager.

"It was a great show last time," Cavanagh said.

Best is glad he has the Beatles experience, though, and he now concentrates on home life, grandchildren, putting out an occasional CD and being part of the roots of rock ‘n’ roll.

"I was part of that particular phenomenon. Life's been good to me, and I'm very happy," Best said.