Most music fans know that Pete Best was the original drummer for The Beatles before he was replaced with Ringo Starr in 1962. But do you know what happened to him after that? In honor of the “mean, moody and magnificent” Beatle’s 75th birthday this week, we put together a retrospective of five notable aspects of Best’s post-Fab Four career.
1. Game Show Contestant
While The Beatles toured the world in 1964, Pete Best did a little travelling of his own. He flew to America for an appearance on the gameshow I’ve Got a Secret, where contestants took turns trying to guess their guest’s secret.
Best’s secret was that he had recently left his job as a Beatle. Sadly, none of the contestants immediately recognized him. But based on his hair and accent, they immediately began asking about the Fab Four. Eventually, Betsy Palmer – who later played Jason Voorhees’ mother in the first Friday the 13th movie – figured out that he was a former bandmate.
2. The Litigious Beatle
A year later, the old gang almost got back together – in court. Best sued his former bandmates and Playboy magazine for libel in 1965. The embittered drummer took issue with an interview in which John Lennon and Ringo Starr suggested that Best popped pills while in the group, and that his drug use got in the way of his performance.
The band settled the case out of court for an undisclosed sum in 1969.
3. ‘Best of The Beatles’
Later in 1965, Best almost got into some legal trouble of his own. After leaving the Fab Four, he played with a few other bands and recorded his first album, which he titled “Best of The Beatles” – punning on his name and former fame. Unsuspecting fans complained after buying the record under the assumption that it was a Beatles compilation.
The confusion even led the New York State Bureau of Consumer Frauds to investigate the matter. But the issue didn’t go any further, possibly because the title might be misleading but it wasn’t an outright lie. Best was once a member of The Beatles, after all.
4. Back in the Spotlight
In the late 60s, Best began a 20-year hiatus from show business. For most of that time, he worked as a civil servant in Liverpool, helping unemployed residents find work.
Then in 1988, he got back behind the drum kit and formed The Pete Best Band, which still tours today. Here they are covering Ray Charles’ hit What’d I Say? in New York back in 2007.
5. Long Awaited Fortune
Even though Best didn’t stick as a Beatle, his time with the band gave him considerable fame. But he didn’t make a fortune off of it until 1995. That’s when Apple Records released Volume I of The Beatles Anthology – a compilation of early recordings that included Best playing on tracks like Ain’t She Sweet and Cry for a Shadow. The royalties netted him an estimated 4-million pounds sterling. Not a bad way to begin his golden years.
Here he is drumming on an early recording of “Love Me Do.”
Via TIME, Beatles Bible, Ultimate Classic Rock, Civilized.