Ex-Beatle says it worked out for best

Published July 29, 2006

Pete Best is the unknown Beatle. For two years, he was the Beatles' drummer before being fired by the band in 1962 and replaced by Ringo Starr. (Him, you've heard of.) Well, Best is back. Tonight, he and his band play the second of a two-night stint at the Royalty Theatre in downtown Clearwater, the first leg of a 15-city U.S. tour. Times staff writer Robert Farley caught up with Best, 64, on Friday.

Q: How did you become a Beatle?

A: In August 1960, I got a call from Paul McCartney. "We've got an opportunity to go to Germany. We've seen you playing (with the Blackjacks). How about sitting in?" ... The audition consisted of six numbers that everyone was playing in those days, so it wasn't anything difficult. About 10 minutes later, I was a Beatle. And a couple days after that I was on my way to Hamburg.

Q: What do you make of the theory that you were too good-looking, and that the other Beatles were jealous?

A: I'll leave that up to people to decide on their own. It's one of the many theories that people have come up with. If it is, it's very complimentary. And if it isn't, I don't comment on it.

Q: There's a 1962 picture of the Beatles, you with sort of James Dean hair and the rest of the guys with the signature mop tops. Could it have been the hair?

A: There was no mention that it was going to be a style within the band. No one asked me to (change it), so I just kept wearing it up. If I'd have been asked, I would've done it. I'd done everything else. The leathers. The cowboy boots, you name it.

Q: What was your relationship with them after the split?

A: I played on the same bill as them in 1962, when I joined a band called Lee Curtis and the All Stars. Since then, there was no communication.

Q: What is like to have missed out on international fame, to have been so close?

A: If I turned around and said there are no regrets, I think I'd be a liar. ... You reach a point where it's no good reflecting all the time. There's more to life. It's very much about today and tomorrow. ... And when you look back, lots of things have compensated for it. I mean, I've still got my health and happiness. I can still go out and get slaughtered drunk and enjoy myself. I've still got a great band that is touring the world and getting great acclaim. I'm a great family man. And I'm happy. When I look back on it, I'm a winner.

Q: What can people expect tonight?

A: Big-sounding band. Six-piece, double drum. This particular concert we do is very much '50s and '60s music that I was associated with. Standards. Stuff that we did in Germany. And there are some Beatles classics in there just to have some fun with... We want the crowd to join in, have fun.


Pete Best and his band the Best of the Beatles play at 8 tonight at the Royalty Theatre at 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Tickets are $30, $40 and $50. The concert is part of a fundraising event for the theater, which was built in 1896. Call (727) 441-8868 or visit www.royaltytheatre.org.