Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Over 50 years since The Beatles first played In Hamburg on what was to give them the grounding for the relentless touring to come, over forty years since they last all played together on the seminal Abbey Road, over 30 years since John Lennon was cruelly taken from his fans and probably about 90 seconds since a Beatles track was played somewhere in the world, and yet after all this time there are still some people in the world who would struggle shamefully to recognise the force that gave them their unique sound in the early Liverpool and Hamburg days.
What would have The Beatles been like without Pete Best giving them an edge over all the other Liverpool bands in Liverpool at the time? The fan may as well ask what would have happened if George Martin had said not a chance straight away or if Brian Epstein had not gone to the Cavern on the fateful day for the lunch time performance of the band.
What is even more uncertain is why the man who gave the band such a great start, who was beloved by a lot of the fans and whose mother gave them so much backing, was sacked so unceremoniously in Brian Epstein’s office before the band were about to stratospheric. So many rumours, so many claims by many in the know, it seems more anecdotes and idle chit-chat have speculated upon this than perhaps was truly behind such questions as what really bought The Beatles to an end and would they have ever truly got back together again given time and circumstance?
Spencer Leigh, arguably one of the foremost experts on the times and a journalist and broadcaster of true distinction when it comes to the era and the subject, revisits the life of Pete Best and the moment that shocked Liverpool’s music fanbase to the core in Best of the Beatles: The Sacking of Pete Best. He gives an updated account of the lead up to the day and speculation that followed in this, the renovated and renewed Drummed Out! The Sacking of Pete Best.
Spencer Leigh is nothing but pleasant and charming, whether you get to meet him in person, listen to him on the radio or if you have the honour to read this updated release. He states that it not intended as academic piece and for that it is a better read than many of the overblown and in some cases almost sycophantic regurgitated books that find themselves on the market, after all The Beatles still sell, Paul McCartney still fills arenas and the band have never lost that allure. Spencer Leigh’s book though is different, written to be enjoyed, to add layers of conversation to the subject, not to been rotting on a University book shelf, only poured over when somebody wants a quote to stir up an argument. It is a book made to be read and to be surprised by.
What was the true reason for Pete Best being let go by what was to become the biggest band on the planet, it might be that nobody will ever truly know, for only one person involved in the fateful decision is still alive and it’s beyond expectation that he will ever tell all.
Best of the Beatles: The Sacking of Pete Best is an enjoyable and entertaining read, one that captures the imagination and sparks yet again an interest in a subject that keeps on giving.
Ian D. Hall