The Beatles’ First Drummer Pete Best Shared What He Would Do if He Saw the ‘Guilty’ Paul McCartney 

In 1960, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon welcomed a new member into their band: the drummer Pete Best. Best would remain with the group for two years, but before they ascended to global stardom, the band fired him. They asked that their manager, Brian Epstein, be the bearer of bad news, and they did not speak to Best about their decision. Decades later, Best doesn’t talk badly about the bandmates who unceremoniously cut him from the group. He shared what he would do if McCartney ever did want to meet up with him.

A black and white picture of The Beatles' original lineup, Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison, and John Lennon, wearing suits.
Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison, and John Lennon | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Beatles fired their first drummer to hire Ringo Starr

In 1960, McCartney recruited Best to join their band. He was a local drummer who became popular with fans in their early shows at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. He remained with the group for two years and traveled with them to their residency in Hamburg, Germany. In August 1962, however, his time with the group ended suddenly

“Unbeknownst to me, they’d approached Ringo,” he told the Telegraph in 2018.

McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison didn’t want to fire Best themselves, so they asked Epstein to do it.

“He said, ‘Pete, I don’t know how to tell you this. The boys want you out’ — those were the words — ‘and it’s already been arranged,'” Best said. “That was another key word. Arranged. Ringo joined the band on Saturday. It was a closed shop. I asked why and he said, ‘Because they think he’s a better drummer.’ The bomb was dropped.”

Pete Best shared his feelings about Paul McCartney these days

Best said that while he wouldn’t necessarily change the course his life took, he wishes that his bandmates had talked to him face to face.

“I’m not saying I’d change the outcome, but at least give me the decency of being there and [letting me] confront them,” he said.

When asked about whether or not he thinks McCartney owes him an apology, Best deflected the question: “Ask him.” 

He said he has not spoken to his former bandmate or his replacement, Starr, since The Beatles fired him. He acknowledged that McCartney seems to want to meet with him, but he wants to leave it to his former bandmate to organize that. For Best, if McCartney wanted to ease his guilty conscience, he would have to be the one to reach out.

“Paul has always hinted that he’d like to meet up,” he said. “The door’s always been wide open. I’m not the guilty person, you know? Whether he wants to do it on a public basis or a private one, it’s his call.” 

He wouldn’t want a meeting between them to be contentious, though.

“We’re senior statesmen now,” he said. “How many years we’ve got left on the planet is really predictable. Let’s talk about things in general. Stick a bottle of Scotch on the table and let’s have a good old bash.”

Pete Best said he tries not to have hard feelings toward Paul McCartney or the rest of the band

Though he took the firing hard, Best now says he wouldn’t change how his life shook out. He wouldn’t want to be a “showbusiness commodity” like all of The Beatles. He can take solace in the fact that he helped the biggest band in the world succeed.

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“Yes, they are the most famous musicians in the world,” he said. “And regardless of what happened, I played a key part in that.”