Ringo Starr became famous as The Beatles’ drummer, but Pete Best originally held the role. Until 1962, Best drummed for the group. Eventually, though, the band decided that Starr would be a better fit. They fired Best unceremoniously, and afterward, they fell out of contact with him. Best joined another band and ran into The Beatles at a show. Paul McCartney and John Lennon requested protection while walking onstage, fearing Best would attack them.
The Beatles replaced Pete Best with Ringo Starr
After two years with The Beatles, Best lost his position in the band. They decided that Starr would be a better fit with the group. Despite agreeing to this, Lennon, McCartney, and George Harrison didn’t want to speak to Best themselves. Instead, they asked Beatles manager Brian Epstein to break the news to him.
“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 told the Telegraph in 2018. “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.”
Best said he wished they’d spoken to him themselves.
“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.
They asked for protection against their former bandmate
After leaving The Beatles, Best joined Lee Curtis and the All-Stars. Not long after, both bands were playing the same show at the Tower in New Brighton. The Beatles would follow Lee Curtis and the All-Stars, and McCartney grew concerned that Best would retaliate against them. He asked promotor Sam Leach to walk them to the stage.
“He said, ‘Will you walk John and me onstage when they do the change?’” Leach said, per the book Paul McCartney: A Life by Peter Ames Carlin. “I asked why, and he said, ‘Pete might give us a smack.’”
Leach agreed and walked between Lennon and McCartney as they walked to the stage.
“I knew Pete wouldn’t do anything, he’s a gentle guy,” Leach said. “And when they did pass in the hallway, Pete just put his head down. And I just felt rotten.”
Pete Best said he doesn’t hold a grudge against The Beatles
Since The Beatles fired him, Best said he has not spoken to any of his former bandmates. He feels that McCartney would like to talk to him, but hasn’t reached 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.”
Still, Best doesn’t hold a grudge and would only want to chat with McCartney.
“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.”