AUGUST 12, 1960 – Pete Best auditioned to become The Silver Beatles’ drummer and was asked to travel to Hamburg in Germany for the bands next set of dates. Before leaving for Hamburg, The Silver Beatles changed their name to simply “The Beatles”.In 1960, Allan Williams arranged a season of bookings for the group in Hamburg, starting on August 17, 1960, but complained that he was not impressed with them as a musical group, and hoped that he could find a better act to follow them. Having no permanent drummer, McCartney looked for someone to fill the Hamburg position. Best had been seen playing in The Casbah with his own group, the Black Jacks, and it was noted that he was a steady drummer, playing the bass drum on all four beats in the bar, which pushed the rhythm. He was known in Liverpool as being “mean, moody, and magnificent” by his female fans, which convinced McCartney he would be good for the group.After the Black Jacks broke up, McCartney convinced Best to go to Hamburg with the group, by saying they would earn £15 per week each. As Best had passed his school exams—unlike Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, who had failed most of theirs—he had the chance to go to a teacher-training college, but decided that playing in Hamburg would be a better career move. Best had an audition in the Jacaranda club, which was owned by Williams, and traveled to Hamburg the next day. Williams later admitted that the audition with Best was unnecessary, as the group had not found any other drummer willing to travel to Hamburg, but did not tell Best in case he asked for more money.In 1962, after capturing success in Liverpool and Hamburg, the band secured a record contract with EMI and met met George Martin at Abbey Road Studios in June of that year for their first recording, and although Best had proven hugely popular during his two years in the band, he was eventually replaced by Ringo Starr on August 16,1962 when the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, dismissed him under the direction of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, following their first recording session at Abbey Road Studios.The firing took its toll on Best. In the mid-60s, he tried to commit suicide by gassing himself but was saved by his mother and brother. “They gave me the most sensible talking-to I’ve ever had in my life,” he told the Daily Mail in 2007. “They asked me what the hell I thought I was doing, saying that committing suicide was what people would expect me to do because of what had happened.”He vowed to never do such a thing again and accepted the cards life had dealt him.”Some people expect me to be bitter and twisted, but I’m not. I feel very fortunate in my life,” Best told the Daily Mail. “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.”After working in a number of commercially unsuccessful groups Best gave up the music industry to work as a civil servant for 20 years, before starting the Pete Best Band. He has been married for over 50 years to Kathy Best; they have two daughters and four grandchildren.
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