The Real Reason The Beatles 1st Drummer Pete Best Never Meshed With John, Paul, and George: ‘He Was Slightly Different From Us’

Why The Beatles‘ original drummer Pete Best was fired in 1962 is one of those questions that remains almost 60 years later, and for which we may never really have an answer. Even Best himself has stated that while he was told he wasn’t as good as Ringo Starr, he will never truly know why he was set aside.

Here, then, is another theory for Best’s dismissal that has little to do with music and everything to do with personality.

The original line-up of The Beatles: Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison, and John Lennon in 1961
The original line-up of The Beatles: Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison, and John Lennon in 1961 | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ringo: With a Little Help author Michael Seth Starr revealed that, while Best may have been dumped by the Liverpool band, he was still quite beloved by the group’s early fans who crowded into the Cavern Club to catch their shows.

“Pete had been an extremely popular Beatle, despite his ex-band mates’ misgivings about his drumming ability and his personality,” Starr wrote. “The group’s female fans, in particular, dug Pete’s brooding good looks.”

Pete Best in 1962 poses for a photo in Liverpool's Cavern Club
Pete Best in 1962 poses for a photo in Liverpool’s Cavern Club | Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns

Ringo explained that in his first gigs after replacing Best, he had not been welcomed with anything resembling open arms.

“There were riots,” his biographer quoted him as saying. “Pete had a big following, but I had been known for years in Liverpool, so I had quite a following, too. So there was this whole shouting match, ‘Ringo never, Peter forever’ and ‘Pete never, Ringo forever.’ There was this whole battle going on, and I’m just trying to drum away.”

Why Best reportedly didn’t ‘take’ with John, Paul, and George

One theory for the firing of Best was supposedly because of his personality. He reportedly wasn’t as eager to hang around with Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison when they weren’t on stage and was perhaps too introverted, keeping himself to himself.

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“His personality slowly drove a wedge between Pete and his fellow Beatles,” according to Michael Starr. “Best was moody and distant, didn’t seem to share the same sense of humor as his Beatle brethren and, more often than not, kept to himself after a show rather than banter with the guys.”

“Pete had never quite been like the rest of us,” McCartney was quoted as saying. “We were the wacky trio and Pete was perhaps a little more…sensible; he was slightly different from us, he wasn’t quite as artsy as we were. And we just didn’t hang out that much together.”

The Beatles’ producer reportedly asked that Best be replaced

The Beatles pose with their record producer George Martin in 1964, left to right: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Martin, and John Lennon
The Beatles with their producer George Martin | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

According to the biographer, producer George Martin also played a part in the band’s recruiting a different drummer. Martin felt that Best was fine for live performances, but not for the studio. The producer, who was more familiar with jazz music than pop, felt the same way at first about Starr.

“It was quite a blow,” McCartney said. “[Martin] said, ‘Can you change your drummer?’ And we said, “Well, we’re quite happy with him, he works great in the clubs.’ And George said, ‘Yes, but for recording he’s got to be just a bit more accurate.'”

The only remaining Beatles left to offer opinions on the incident are Best himself, Ringo, and McCartney, all now approaching or at 80 years of age. As Best charitably told the Irish Times in 2020, “I’ve nothing to forgive…they made a decision as young men which was safeguarding their future. Okay, it could have been handled better. I was the fall guy for it, I suffered, but I’m not holding them to task over it.”