Pete Best - His Weaknesses as a Drummer?

I'm getting to the question of why the Beatles replaced Pete Best with Ringo over a half-century late, but I've always wondered what it was about Best's drumming than led to his ouster. I realize that there were probably personality factors involved too, but it's clear that there were also reservations about Best's drumming. What about Best's drumming were seen as weaknesses?

Aided now by the availablity of YouTube (something that didn't exist a half-century ago) I listened to and watched a few examples of Best's playing. I immediately detected what struck me as two weaknesses.

One weakness was evident in a more recent video in which Best is an older man, and is only a minor weakness. It is that he kept changing cymbals at musically illogical places. The changes didn't hurt the song, IMO, but they did suggest that Best is less than a pro-level drummer. A pro drummer wouldn't change cymbals with seeming randomness, and would use the one cymbal that achieved the desired sound rather than arbitrarily bashing/riding a couple.

The other weakness came from early Beatle recordings in which Best was playing. Although I wouldn't say that Best was dragging, his playing was on the back rather than the front end of the beat. This contrasted sharply with Ringo's playing on the same song. Ringo didn't rush, but he was on the front end of the beat and drove the band. Best's playing was on the back end of the beat, as if the band was pulling him along. Mind, the differences were subtle, and Best wasn't always on the back end of the beat. He sometimes moved to the front end or the middle. But he wasn't super solid, and I can see how his band mates as well as recording engineers would find Best's unsteadiness frustrating. I can also see why the others would prefer Ringo's ability to drive the band.

There's probably also the fact that Ringo was more creative than Best. I didn't hear this in the few songs I listened to, but I know that Lennon liked Ringo's drumming in part because Ringo could quickly grasp a musical idea and come up with a drum part that suited it. Probably Best was less creative and slower to grasp musical ideas, though I can't hear this from recordings.

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing other drummers' critical opinions of Pete Best's drumming. Praise for Ringo is common topic, but I don't hear much (actually any) specifical criticisms of Best's playing. Complicating this is that, at least IMO, Best wasn't a lousy drummer. He was good enough to propel the Beatles to considerable early success. He was also popular enough with the fans for some to protest his sacking. Yet his drumming was considered weak enough for him to become probably the most famous fired drummer in history. What was it about his actual playing that led to him becoming the most famous fired drummer in history?
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
It would be nice to hear the songs to which you are referring in order to compare and contrast them. Do you have any links to help this conversation along?
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
Interesting topic. Not to detract from discussing Pete Best but to add something of a parallel, Oasis, pretty much the biggest band around in the 1990s, fired their drummer for what seems like similar reasons. I watched a documentary the other day about them and Noel or Liam Gallagher were saying that it wasn't happening in the studio for the recording of their first single and they eventually pinpointed it to be the drummer. That it would be good if he could keep time or play in time from one bar to the next.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_McCarroll



Noel and McCarroll got on during childhood, but as Oasis gradually became famous, the relationship between the two faltered. Noel had repeatedly and publicly slammed McCarroll's drumming ability and said it wasn't good enough for a number one single.

McCarroll was reportedly informed he was no longer in the band via a phone call by Marcus Russell at his mother's house.

Oasis explained, his drumming just wasn't up to it. "I like Tony as a geezer but he wouldn't have been able to drum the new songs," explained Noel. McCarroll was replaced by Alan White, who remained until 2004.

Oasis producer Owen Morris said of McCarroll, "Tony was quiet and always polite to me, but seemed out of his depth…so I think Tony did well to survive as long as he did in Oasis." Morris described McCarroll's drumming style as "extremely basic", but with timing and tempo that were "almost autistically perfect".

In 1999 McCarroll hired a solicitor Jens Hills – who had won Pete Best £2m from The Beatles in 1995 – to sue Oasis for £18m. Arguing McCarroll was owed his part of the band's five-album deal. Eventually, he accepted an out-of-court settlement of £600,000.
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
I wonder if the TO listened to those made up, fantasy-recordings of someone mimicing Pete Best. Rather a parody than real recording material.

Afaik, Best got fired because of "unprofessional behaviour", that is being drunk and showing up late for gigs.
 
I wonder if the TO listened to those made up, fantasy-recordings of someone mimicing Pete Best. Rather a parody than real recording material.

Afaik, Best got fired because of "unprofessional behaviour", that is being drunk and showing up late for gigs.

Both may be true, but if you just search for "Pete Best" on youtube, you'll find a clip in which John really disparages Best's drumming and Paul more diplomatically says that the other Beatles simply fell in love with Ringo's drumming. The notion that Best was sacked merely for "unprofessional behaviour" (or other personality issues) requires assuming that both John and Paul simply lied. That's possible, but unlikely.

A youtube search also turns up various recordings. These might not accurately identify the drummer, and worse, may be apples-to-oranges comparisons. Recording situations vary, and it's surely not fair to compare one drummer's late-night gig in a lousy hall with another's fresher playing in a better hall. However, there is reasonable empirical audio evidence to allow others to judge for themselves.

I posted the question here because this is a drummers' forum, and many of the members are good drummers. Let the general historians debate whether Best's solitary disposition, reluctance to get the Beatle haircut, jealousy-inducing popularity with the girls, drunkenness, or whatever led to his firing. Drummers are in a position to compare his actual playing with Ringo's. And if there is a difference (which I suspect there is), it's not immediately evident, to me at least. I don't see Best as a lousy drummer or Ringo as a great one. The differences between the two are therefore subtle--but differences that I would think drummers would be curious about.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that John and Paul didn't like Best's drumming (as George Martin didn't either), and I'm curious as to why.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
Has no one listened to the recordings featuring him? They're on the Anthology 1 album.

Listen to the version of Love me Do with him on it. Very easy to tell that Ringo is just flat out superior in everywhere.

Pete Best is, at best, a half-decent pub drummer. He did not have the skills required for recording sessions or major touring.
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
The notion that Best was sacked merely for "unprofessional behaviour" (or other personality issues) requires assuming that both John and Paul simply lied. That's possible, but unlikely.
The unprofessional behaviour made firing him easier for the whole band. But of course, his drumming was not on the level of Ringo (Ringo played like a Starr. Pete was mediocre at Best). Ringo was considered the best drummer in the Liverpool-area at the time, he was considered one of the best pop-drummers in GB at the time that furthermore was a no-nonsense drummer, displaying the professionality and the human skills that are important in the music business. It's IMO absolutely logical that the Beatles replaced Best with Ringo, once they got a chance to do so.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Has no one listened to the recordings featuring him? They're on the Anthology 1 album.

Listen to the version of Love me Do with him on it. Very easy to tell that Ringo is just flat out superior in everywhere.

Pete Best is, at best, a half-decent pub drummer. He did not have the skills required for recording sessions or major touring.

Love Me Do is a bad reference. There's versions with three different drummers.

Here's where it gets weird, Ringo played on the UK single of Love Me Do (which Brian Epstein bought most of the copies hence is rare as rocking horse shit!) but the version released in the US and on the Please Please Me album is Andy White.

If I was in Pete Best's shoes I have invented a timemachine, robbed a bank, gone back and given my younger self money to get drum lessons!
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
If I was in Pete Best's shoes I have invented a timemachine, robbed a bank, gone back and given my younger self money to get drum lessons!

This is what PB thinks:

"Some people expect me to be bitter and twisted, but I'm not. I feel very fortunate in my life. God knows what strains and stresses The Beatles must have been under. They became a public commodity. And John paid for that with his life".
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
This is what PB thinks:

"Some people expect me to be bitter and twisted, but I'm not. I feel very fortunate in my life. God knows what strains and stresses The Beatles must have been under. They became a public commodity. And John paid for that with his life".

He does have a point there!
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Love Me Do is a bad reference.

I think it's an excellent reference to prove a point. I reckon the three versions of that song alone make it far easier to understand why he was replaced.

Two versions are head and shoulders above the third. Daylight separates them. One performance stands out obviously as being weaker. It's not that it's terrible when listened to in isolation. But the strengths on both Andy White's and Ringo's versions are abundantly apparent when stacked up against each other. Actually a pretty damned good reference for mine.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
This is what PB thinks:

"Some people expect me to be bitter and twisted, but I'm not. I feel very fortunate in my life. God knows what strains and stresses The Beatles must have been under. They became a public commodity. And John paid for that with his life".

Yes, but it did take him a long time to get to that point.

https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/...y_now_pete_bestthe_man_replaced_by_ringo.html

In the mid-1960s, Best hit a low point, even though things were going well and he was playing with another band. “I got a stupid idea in my head that I was going to commit suicide,” he said. “Don’t ask me why. I’m fortunate that I survived.” He was stopped from inhaling gas from a stove by his mother and younger brother

https://www.popmatters.com/184898-n...st-the-original-drummer-of-th-2495626053.html
Have you let go of any disappointment you had about the original disagreement with [the Beatles] in 1962? Is there any lingering bitterness there?

There never was any [bitterness]. Bitterness is a word the media picked up. There was anger and there was resentment because of what happened and the way it happened, because of the way I contributed to the band, but bitterness, no.

It’s like anything else, if you carry it with you, you’re going to end up a bitter and twisted old git. And there’s no need for that. I’ve enjoyed life. There came a time when I was like “Fine. It’s not about thinking about what happened yesterday, it’s about today and tomorrow.” And I think once you come to terms about yourself, then you realize that there’s so much more that your future holds for you, as opposed to your past, that you’re striving for.

My life since then had ups and downs; it hasn’t been a perfect life. But when I look back on it now, I wouldn’t change it.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I gather much like most things in life, there was no ONE single reason, rather numerous small things that added up. And likely, only made sense at the time.

I'd suspect his drumming was only part of it.

It's been said he the other 3 didn't along offstage as well as the other 3 go along with each other. There is speculation Best didn't care for the change in direction from the leather jackets and 50's hair the suits and mop tops, which caused tension between him and Brian Epstein. There are all sorts of stories, many of them likely not entire true, but perhaps not entirely un true either.

All we know for sure is George Martin didn't care for Best, which put a strain on the Beatles as a whole.

Maybe John Paul and George were simply afraid of not being taken seriously as BAND if it came out Best wasn't on the records. Maybe they simply thought if this is a problem now, let's nip now before it becomes a bigger problem later. Or perhaps they were just young, and hungry and though it that's what George Martin thinks, then we had better go with it or risk not having a music carer.

It's sort of like what happened with John Rutsey and Rush. For years it was said John quit Rush due to his health, but in recent years it's come to light he didn't quit, he was forced out, and it wasn't quite as cut and dry as his health, rather it was a variety of factors.
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
According to "The Beatles Minute:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpEl3_IZ5WE

According to John Lennon:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H_SUTWs3qk

The Beatles live on The Ed Sullivan Show - "I Saw Her Standing There:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYdr3wT7kHA

The Beatles live with Pete Best - "I Saw Her Standing There:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSWUBFiKSNI

The Beatles with Pete Best - "Money:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3If5AWP5eL4

The Beatles with Ringo - "Money:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mX7Y0h4wfc
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
According to "The Beatles Minute:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpEl3_IZ5WE

According to John Lennon:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H_SUTWs3qk

The Beatles live on The Ed Sullivan Show - "I Saw Her Standing There:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYdr3wT7kHA

The Beatles live with Pete Best - "I Saw Her Standing There:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSWUBFiKSNI

The Beatles with Pete Best - "Money:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3If5AWP5eL4

The Beatles with Ringo - "Money:"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mX7Y0h4wfc


Yep! This proves it.

Like I always say.
A great band with a good drummer is a great band.
A great band with a little bit better drummer is still a great band.


.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I think it's an excellent reference to prove a point. I reckon the three versions of that song alone make it far easier to understand why he was replaced.

Two versions are head and shoulders above the third. Daylight separates them. One performance stands out obviously as being weaker. It's not that it's terrible when listened to in isolation. But the strengths on both Andy White's and Ringo's versions are abundantly apparent when stacked up against each other. Actually a pretty damned good reference for mine.

OK man chill. Point I was making is that most people still don't know that it's not Ringo on the version of Love Me Do they've listened to all their life. Same with Please Please Me and P.S. I Love You.

Agreed Pete Best was a very basic drummer, the early demos and the Decca Tapes are more than proof.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
OK man chill.

What on earth made you think I'd worked myself up to the point where I needed to "chill"?

You said it was a bad reference. I disagree and proceeded to say why. And I still hold to it.

No more. No less.

If I was anymore relaxed I'd be in a friggen' coma.
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
What on earth made you think I'd worked myself up to the point where I needed to "chill"?

You said it was a bad reference. I disagree and proceeded to say why. And I still hold to it.

No more. No less.

If I was anymore relaxed I'd be in a friggen' coma.

Hey, chill, man!!

;-)
 
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