Pete Best’s Life Lessons

John, Paul, Pete and George

One of music’s saddest figures has been the focus of my attention lately. There’s so much to learn from the story of Pete Best, I felt compelled to write about it.

Best was the drummer for the Beatles from 1960–1962. Blindsided by his abrupt dismissal from the band shortly after they landed a recording contract, Best lost three good friends — never to speak with any one of them ever again — and watched their blistering rise to stardom.

It certainly wasn’t the first or last time something like this happened. Many bands see personnel changes before finding the right combination. Pete Best just happened to the guy who got booted from the most influential band in rock ‘n’ roll history at the moment in time their train to fame was seriously picking up steam.

Although a myriad of reasons for Best’s dismissal persist, it should be obvious to anyone who considers the evidence that his band-mates found a better drummer and Beatle personality in Ringo Starr. Pete was, in a sense, a historical placeholder.

Best managed to irk out a 20-year career in the UK Civil Service. By all accounts, he is a happy husband, father, brother, grandfather, and gracious human being.

He returned to music in 1988, touring all over the world. His band, The Pete Best Band, put out an album in 2008 that rivals anything Paul and Ringo have produced in recent years. Sure he relies heavily on his Beatles connection to fill rooms, and why not? Paul and Ringo have been doing it since 1970.

Lessons applicable to modern, workaday life can be gleaned from Pete Best’s story. We can learn about what pitfalls to avoid and how to overcome the most adverse circumstances.

Practice your craft

Perhaps things would have worked out better for Pete had he worked on his chops, and maybe that other Liverpudlian drummer wouldn’t have entered the story.

Show up for work

Maintaining a low level of absenteeism is a good idea if you care about your job because somebody more talented may likely take your place. Pete called in sick one to many times, the band called on Ringo to fill in, and the rest is history.

Secure employment does not exist

Pete claims he was blindsided by his firing from the Beatles. Many of us have experienced the same in the corporate world. Don’t forget you’re expendable. Be prepared for a job loss.

Do your best (no pun intended) in the face of adversity

Pete was devastated personally and humiliated financially after being fired from the Beatles. He continued in the music biz for a while before quitting. He then worked at a bakery until he landed a civil service gig. The point is: keep moving forward even if you find yourself without direction. Do what is necessary to survive. Hang on to your pride.

Be your own boss

I’ve tried this two times and failed, but I don’t regret it for a minute. If you want to prevent yourself from getting fired, consider starting your own business and working for yourself. Pete has his own band now with his name in the title; they can’t give him the boot … without changing the name.

It’s never too late

Whether it’s learning something new or resuming a pursuit long ago abandoned, any time is the right time. Pete returned to music in his mid-forties and has been making a living at it ever since.