The subject of the firing of Pete Best as the Beatles drummer on August 16, 1962 is one of the most talked about and debated incidents in Beatles history. Best had been with the band for two years when they were in the trenches in both Liverpool and Hamburg, ranking as the most popular of the four Beatles. He was replaced by Ringo Starr, almost immediately after the band had the great fortune of being signed to a recording contract with EMI’s Parlophone label.
The reasons for the firing of Pete Best is a historical debate that cannot be done in a single blog post, nor a hundred blog posts for that matter. The topic of this blog article will be the pleasant surprise that in 1995, some 33 years after being replaced as The Beatles’ drummer, Pete Best was finally financially rewarded in a big way for his two years with the band.
1995 saw the famous Beatles Anthology, which consisted of the release of a set of three double albums, a television documentary a three part documentary. The first CD Anthology was released in late 1995, and the following two in 1996. As most Beatles fans know, The Beatles sold more albums in 1996 than in any other single year in the 1960’s.
The first Anthology CD contains ten songs from the band’s famous audition for Decca records, which of course did not earn them a recording contract. Since Pete Best was the drummer on all of these ten songs, he was able to finally reap some financial rewards for his storied two years with the struggling band. While he definitely received in the millions, both the Beatles management and Pete Best have thought it best to keep the exact amount private over the course of the last 24 years.
The ten songs on the first Anthology album which feature Pete Best saw their first official release with this album, but had been circulating in the bootleg world for almost thirty years. The ten songs included on the album are “My Bonnie”, “Ain’t She Sweet”, “Cry for a Shadow”, “Searchin’”, “Three Cool Cats”, “The Sheik of Araby”, “Like Dreamers Do”, “Hello, Little Girl”, “Besame Mucho”, “Love Me Do”.
Estimates of the payments to Best have ranged from four million pounds to 25 million pounds, but nothing concrete ever came out. While the three remaining Beatles opted to pay Best for his work on the infamous “Decca tapes”, Best was not invited to participated in the television documentary nor the book.
In a June 5, 2003 piece “The Booted Beatle” in the Washington Post, David Segal wrote quoted Pete Best stressing the need for the amount of his royalty payments from The Beatles to do be disclosed. He said, “I think the number needs to remain private. It’s security for my family and my grandchildren. I didn’t move to a 35 story mansion with a swimming pool and three Ferraris. I’m very happy with the life I’ve got so there’s no need to change it.”
Pete Best left the entertainment industry in 1968 and took a job in an unemployment office, rising to supervisor and retiring after 20 years with a good pension.
It may have taken 33 years, but ex-Beatle Pete Best finally earned many millions for his two year stint as the band’s drummer.
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