After conducting an informal survey, I found very few people knew the name of the original drummer for the Beatles. Pete Best played with John, Paul and George (and some with Stuart Sutcliffe, but that's another story) during their formative years in the early '60s. Best got the boot after the band signed with Parlophone Records in 1962 and producer George Martin insisted on a different drummer.
You know the rest of the story, right? The Beatles nabbed a fellow Liverpudlian named Richard Starkey, Jr., who called himself Ringo Starr. The Fab Four then went on to become one of the most popular musical groups in history. According to Peter Brown (a longtime assistant to the Beatles and manager Brian Epstein) in his book The Love You Make, the Beatles grossed $40 million over the next two years while the erstwhile drummer earned about eight pounds a week as a baker.
While we're on our Beatles kick, anyone have any idea why there would be an annual George Harrison Beatle Fest in Benton, Ill.? It's tricky trivia that I just heard about a few years ago. In the fall of 1963, while the Beatles sat at the top of the pops in England but were barely known in America, George Harrison spent a few weeks visiting his sister Louise in the small, southern Illinois town of Benton. During his next visit to America, George and the Beatles made their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February of 1964 and Americans experienced the beginnings of Beatlemania.
Several years ago locals in Benton with a little help
from their friends — Beatles fans from Springfield, St. Louis and all
over the country — saved the house-where-George-stayed from
demolition. They soon turned it into the Hard Days Nite Bed & Breakfast
and began the Beatle Fest. Now to tie all this Beatle business together:
The Benton George Harrison Beatle Fest presents for one night only the Pete
Yes, it is a strange and beautiful world we live in, where 46 years after Pete Best was canned as a Beatle just before the band hit it big, he's out on the road playing drums with his own group making money and getting gigs strictly off the fame of his former band. Isn't that great? Well it's something anyway.
Other groups scheduled to perform Oct. 4 in the Benton High School Gymnasium include After Beat, Gabe McCarty (formerly of the 4 Vests), Warren Batts (once one of Bill Haley's Comets), Rex Van Zandt (from Dark Horse the Tribute) and Peter Conrad. The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Other events happen from noon on at the B & B.
So there you have it, the incredible story of Pete Best and the Beatles with George Harrison and an Illinois twist. For more information about the concert, the Fest or the whole crazy yarn, check out www.myspace.com/bentonbeatlefest or call Beatles For Sale at 314-231-8005 in St. Louis.
Here's a heads up to all central Illinois bands and musicians. The Pub Crawl section in Illinois Times features three photographs each week of groups performing in area venues. If you send a clear, 150 to 300 dpi, high-resolution digital photo (jpeg preferred) to email@example.com you will very likely see your picture in the pages of IT. You send the photo, with artists' names included, and then we'll keep it on file for use when your band is listed. It's that easy. Also if you change band members, send a new photo please, otherwise that Pete Best you just dumped will still be in the shot. Thanks, we'd love to see your band in the Pub Crawl, and likely so would you.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org