The Beatles are Dead! Long Live the Fab Four!

The Fab Four - John, Ringo, George and Paul
The Fab Four – John, Ringo, George and Paul

Were The Beatles and the Fab Four different? Much has been made of the drumming skills of Pete Best and Ringo Starr, and opinions are often at odds. Each has been praised for his talent, or criticized for his lack of it.

Pete Best was removed from The Beatles because of George Martin’s comments at the end of their June 1962 audition. Was it a clash of personalities, haircuts and the myriad other reasons given for Pete’s “dismissal”? Or was there something more fundamental going on which may have gone unnoticed? David Harris, Brian Epstein’s lawyer, confirmed that when Pete Best left, The Beatles effectively disbanded and then re-formed with Ringo. Was this more than just a legal sleight of hand that happened in the blink of an eye?

There are certain crisis points in Beatles history where the evolution of the group required a personnel change.

The Quarrymen in the parade on 6th July 1957
The Quarrymen, including John, on the wagon during the parade on 6th July 1957

John lennon needs paul mccartney

On 6th July 1957, Paul McCartney watched The Quarrymen perform a mixture of country, rock ‘n’ roll and skiffle. Yet rock ‘n’ roll would always remain John’s first love. The Quarrymen lacked the expertise to make that musical leap from a skiffle group to rock ‘n’ roll. John knew that if they were going to become a rock ‘n’ roll group, they needed more skilled musicians. Thankfully, Ivan Vaughan introduced him to his mutual friend Paul McCartney. All John had to decide was whether they would continue playing just for fun, or take themselves more seriously. Should they bring in a musician who had the talent to improve them?

By inviting Paul to join The Quarrymen, John knew that most of his friends would soon be leaving. Rock ‘n’ roll bands didn’t need a banjo, washboard or tea-chest bass. That reality hastened the departures of Rod Davis, Pete Shotton and Len Garry.

john and paul need George harrison

Paul McCartney, John Lennon and george Harrison as Japage 3
Paul McCartney, John Lennon and george Harrison as Japage 3

What John and Paul realised after Paul botched his solo on “Guitar Boogie” was that they needed a lead guitarist. Thankfully, Paul knew someone who could amply assume the role: George Harrison. Five months after John met Paul, George had replaced Eric Griffiths, and Rod, Pete and Len had departed. Only Colin Hanton, the drummer, remained. The nucleus of The Beatles was in place; John, Paul and George were now together.

The Quarrymen Are Dead: Long Live The Silver Beatles/Silver Beats/The Beatals

Rod Murray and Stuart Sutcliffe
Rod Murray and Stuart Sutcliffe copyright Rod Murray

John, Paul and George were desperate to have their own rock ‘n’ roll group. They offered a spot in the band to Rod Murray or Stu Sutcliffe, depending on who could get a bass. Stu joined the group when he purchased a bass with the proceeds from the sale of one of his paintings.

john, paul, George and stu need a drummer

The Beatles - John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe in Hamburg 1960
The Beatles – John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe in Hamburg 1960

As they ditched the Quarrymen name, John, Paul, George and Stu needed a drummer. Their new manager, Allan Williams, recruited Tommy Moore, and, at long last, they were a rock ‘n’ roll group. Through Tommy first, then Norman Chapman, the boys were able to convince Williams to get them bookings. Later, with new drummer Pete Best on board, to send them to Hamburg.

The Silver Beatles/Silver Beats/The Beatals Are Dead: Long Live The Beatles

The Silver Beatles - Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison
The Silver Beatles – Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison

With Pete now in the group, The Beatles became the greatest rock ‘n’ roll group Liverpool or Hamburg had seen. As Beatles promoter Sam Leach observed; “When The Beatles came back from Hamburg, they were the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band anyone had seen. Only those of us on the scene then saw The Beatles at their best: they were pure rock. They lost some of that when Brian put them in suits, but it worked, and you can’t argue with it.” 

there was nobody to touch us in britain

As John Lennon said: “We were four guys. I met Paul and said, do you want to join my band, and then George joined and Ringo joined. We were just a band who made it very,  very big; that’s all. Our best work was never recorded. In Liverpool, Hamburg and around the dance halls, and what we generated was fantastic when we played straight rock. There was nobody to touch us in Britain, but as soon as we made it, the edges were knocked off. Brian put us in suits and all that, and we were very successful, but we sold out. Our music was dead before we even went on the theatre tour of Britain.” (Rolling Stone Interview).

The Beatles did their best work in Liverpool and Hamburg. John is acknowledging that the group was at its best with Pete on drums. This is a point easily confirmed by any fan who saw the band perform in Liverpool or Hamburg. There was no one to touch them. However, John’s comments need to be taken in context. He loved those early days playing rock ‘n’ roll, but his words shouldn’t be viewed as a criticism of Ringo.  

john, paul, George and pete don’t need stu

The Beatles at the Cavern - Pete, George, John and Paul
The Beatles at the Cavern – Pete, George, John and Paul

This transitional period also saw a crucial change on bass guitar. Although Stu Sutcliffe was a decent rock ‘n’ roll bassist, they needed Paul McCartney. With Paul on bass, they could take it up a notch.    

1962: Rocked in: Popped Out – The Beatles Are Dead: Long Live The Fab Four

What we witnessed during the summer of 1962 was the end of The Beatles. They were the great rock ‘n’ roll group that had conquered Liverpool and Hamburg. Through Pete Best’s driving beat, Paul’s thumping bass, John’s fiery rhythm and George’s infectious rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks. What we then witnessed, with the introduction of Ringo, was the birth of the Fab Four. This new pop group would conquer the world. In 1962, they rocked in the year, but ‘popped’ it out in the charts with their new brand of music. They were at last achieving Brian Epstein’s vision of a polished, theatrically-astute and aesthetic pop group.

When Brian first saw them on at the Cavern, they were scruffy rebels in black leather. They were rocking the joint while eating, drinking, smoking and clowning around. When they were presented to the music press in 1962, they were four polite, cheeky, suited Liverpool lads. Brian’s vision of musical theatre was coming to fruition. His “boys” were now presentable in stage costumes with a rehearsed script and a set list. They even bowed at the end of their performances, much like a curtain call for a play. Their shows became carefully-crafted pieces of musical theatre. This was a huge leap into the unknown for the band, but one fully-orchestrated by Brian. The Beatles had evolved into the Fab Four. We couldn’t have both; one of them had to go, and the old style Beatles took the fall.

Things didn’t quite work with Pete, even though he was perfect for The Beatles were doing at the time. The Beatles were playing covers of other artists’ songs. There were certainly no documented issues raised prior to George Martin’s comments at EMI in June 1962. Ringo wasn’t even the first choice to replace Pete. What would The Beatles have been like had they hired Bobby Graham, Ritchie Galvin, Johnny Hutchinson ?

the fab four is born

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr joined The Beatles in August 1962
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr joined The Beatles in August 1962

Whatever magic potion he possessed, Ringo fit in perfectly with John, Paul and George, and it worked; history confirms that. As with any team, The Beatles proved that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. All that mattered was how they worked together. The group would always be greater than the individuals, regardless of talent. None of the Beatles was considered to be the best at his chosen instrument in Liverpool. Together they were greater than any musical team had even been, and likely will ever be. 

john, paul and George ask ringo

“Pete Best was good, but a bit limited,” said Paul. “You can hear the difference on the Anthology tapes. When Ringo joins us, we get a bit more kick, a few more imaginative breaks, and the band settles. So the new combination was perfect: Ringo with his very solid beat, laconic wit and Buster Keaton-like charm; John with his sharp wit and his rock ‘n’ rolliness, but also his other, quite soft side; George, with his great instrumental ability and who could sing some good rock ‘n’ roll. And then I could do a bit of singing and playing some rock ‘n’ roll and some softer numbers.” (Anthology).

Was Pete Best a Good Drummer?

In “Finding the Fourth Beatle“, we have analysed Pete’s drumming on the Tony Sheridan recordings from June 1961. On the accompanying CD, you can also hear the Decca audition from January 1962. Pete was a more-than-capable player. Extensive research conducted with various Merseybeat drummers about Pete’s drumming resulted in high praise from so many of them.

pete was a great drummer

Billy Kinsley played in the Pete Best Band. He is adamant that they didn’t get rid of Pete because he was a poor drummer. “You ask drummers who were around at the time,” said Billy, “and they say that Pete was a great drummer. I never had a problem at all with Pete. He was great, absolutely superb. Nothing against Ringo, but there was nothing wrong with Pete. However, John, Paul and George knew nothing about the recording business, and nor did Brian. If you saw any of those gigs at the Cavern , all the girls were screaming for Pete. That’s what The Beatles was all about; those three crazy guys and the moody guy who didn’t smile or was quiet, but it worked. Getting rid of him didn’t make sense to us.

From You To Me

So if fellow musicians didn’t see a problem with Pete, what was it? Was there a power shift within The Beatles from John to Paul. Paul’s repertoire and more eclectic song choices would appeal to a wider variety of audiences. Theywere better suited to a group who wanted to make, and sell, records. When it came to covering some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll and R&B songs, The Beatles with Pete were second to none. John admitted that.

from rock to pop, beatles to fab four

However, for a group writing its own commercial pop songs, a change of direction was needed, and that meant a drummer who was used to playing a more varied song selection. They found that drummer in Ringo Starr, who had performed with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes at the Butlin’s holiday camps, entertaining audiences other than those at the Cavern and the clubs of Liverpool. Brian Epstein was desperately trying to get The Beatles away from those clubs, and John, Paul and George knew that.  

The Beatles John Paul George and Ringo - The Fab Four
The Beatles John Paul George and Ringo – The Fab Four

So, when Ringo joined the group, they went from being The Beatles, the rock ‘n’ roll kings, to the Fab Four, the greatest-ever pop group. It is possible that, by changing drummers, John was trying to suggest that The Beatles were dead; long live the Fab Four. Both were great bands in their own right, and each had a great drummer in his own right. Pete Best helped The Beatles conquer Liverpool and Hamburg, and also secure Brian Epstein, the manager who would make them famous and attain the record deal they craved. For his contributions, Pete Best should be celebrated and thanked.

Read the full story in Finding the Fourth Beatle.

It is ok to celebrate and like both Pete Best and Ringo Starr; The Beatles were dead: Long Live the Fab Four.

David Bedford

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16th August 1962: A Fourth Drummer – Johnny Hutchinson – turns The Beatles Down

The Silver Beatles - Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison
The Silver Beatles – Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Hutchinson and George Harrison

Johnny Hutchinson Turned Down The Beatles

When John, Paul and George decided that they needed to replace Pete Best, following the Parlophone audition, they asked Brian Epstein to find a replacement. The first drummer approached was Bobby Graham, who turned Brian down. Brian Epstein then spoke to Ritchie Galvin, who also said no to The Beatles. Johnny Hutchinson became the third drummer to decline the offer.

The Beatles introduced Brian to Ringo Starr at the Blue Angel Club. Epstein then offered Ringo the opportunity to replace Pete. Brian said that he would confirm the appointment on 14th August 1962. However, Brian then offered Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson the job of Beatles drummer the day that Brian got rid of original Beatles drummer Pete Best. (see Why Pete Best was not sacked)

16th august 1962: brian Epstein asks johnny Hutchinson to be the beatles drummer

Johnny Hutch Hutchinson sat behind a replica Beatles drum kit. He played with The Beatles twice
Johnny Hutch Hutchinson sat behind a replica Beatles drum kit. He played with The Beatles twice

On the afternoon of 16th August 1962, Brian told Pete Best the bad news that the other Beatles wanted him out. Pete initially agreed to fulfil the Beatles gigs until Ringo was due to arrive on Saturday. An obvious choice for drummer was Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson. Hutch had sat in, albeit grudgingly, with The Silver Beatles at the Larry Parnes audition in May 1960. Johnny Hutchinson was the driving force behind The Big Three and the best drummer in the Liverpool. Considering that The Big Three had just signed a management contract with Brian on 1st July 1962, it made sense to approach him to help The Beatles out at short notice.

The Big Three had been playing in Hamburg for most of July before returning to Liverpool in time to appear at the Tower Ballroom on 27th July. Brian asked Hutch to join The Beatles after he returned from Hamburg, and not just for the three upcoming appearances when Pete Best didn’t show up.

I was playing with the beatles

Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles
Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles

I interviewed Johnny for Finding the Fourth Beatle. “I was playing with The Beatles in Chester. With the Big Three playing on the same bill, Brian asked him to sit in with The Beatles. “I had to set up my drums and get dressed for our set with The Big Three, and then go and get changed and go back on stage with The Beatles.” Brian was there and kept looking at me strange. I got off stage after the gig and had to zoom off. Brian said, ‘I was looking at you to see how you’d fit with The Beatles’. I joked, ‘I don’t really.’” Little did he know what Brian was about to say to him.

“I think John would suit The Beatles down to the ground”

Johnny Hutchinson drumming with The Big Three
Johnny Hutchinson drumming with The Big Three

Johnny Hutchinson was honest; “I don’t remember dates, but I remember exactly where we were,” Hutch recalled. “I was in the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester,” after playing at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester with The Beatles. “We sat down, and Brian Epstein and Bob Wooler were just looking at me. So I said, ‘What the f##k do you two want?’ And they looked at each other, and Brian said to Bob, ‘What do you think?’ Bob said, ‘Well, Brian, I think John would suit The Beatles down to the ground.’ Then Brian said, ‘I do, too. John, I want you to be The Beatles’ drummer.’

“I wouldn’t join The Beatles for a big clock”(Johnny Hutchinson)

“I told him that ‘I wouldn’t join The Beatles for a big clock. The Beatles couldn’t make as good a sound as the Big Three. My group is ten times better than The Beatles!’ And Brian said, ‘I know, but the Big Three are limited. The Beatles? The world is their oyster.’

I Like the beatles

“By that, I think he meant that I was the only one in the group who was grafting, really working hard. I was the drummer, doing the singing too, and with only three of us, there was only so much we could do. That’s what I reckon he meant. Brian also said that he had been ‘everywhere to get a drummer and that he couldn’t get one.’ And I said there must be another drummer out there, but Eppy said, ‘there isn’t anyone to suit The Beatles.’ You see, it is often said that I hated The Beatles, but I didn’t. I liked The Beatles, but hated the music. It wasn’t for me, but it suited lots of people. That’s why I wanted to stay with my band.”

johnny hutch recommended ringo to brian

Hutch recommended Ringo to Brian. “Yes I did. I told him to go and get Ringo. He’s a bum, he’ll join anyone for a few bob.” Johnny Hutch hasn’t for one minute ever regretted his decision to turn down The Beatles.

almost the fourth beatle

Johnny Hutchinson became the third drummer to turn down the opportunity to replace Pete Best in The Beatles. Sadly, Johnny died after a short illness in April 2019. He had become a good friend, and always good company, with some incredible stories. He was never one to make anything up – he always told the truth, which is a rarity.

finding the fourth beatle

These revelations from Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson came from exclusive interviews with David Bedford over a three year period, and feature in his latest book, Finding the Fourth Beatle. You can purchase your copy here.

David Bedford

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Pete Best was NOT Sacked by Brian Epstein or The Beatles

The Beatles in Hamburg: John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe
The Beatles in Hamburg: John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe

Pete Best and the biggest Beatles Mystery

Since 1962, one of the hottest debates has centered around Brian Epstein’s dismissal of Pete Best from The Beatles. The controversy has inspired articles, chapters and even entire books, all speculating on the reasons why the band booted Pete from the group as they were on the cusp of stardom. However, we have been looking at this most well-known chapter in Beatles history the wrong way.  To being with, let’s go back to the infamous head-to-head meeting that took place on this day in 1962.

Beatles Change Drummer is how Mersey Beat announced that Pete Best had left The Beatles
Beatles Change Drummer is how Mersey Beat announced that Pete Best had left The Beatles

Brian Epstein summoned Pete Best to NEMS on 16th August 1962. Although Pete thought it was to be a routine meeting, it would in fact go on to define his life thereafter. Even though we will demonstrate that Brian did not dismiss Pete, this does not mean that either Pete or Brian have ever lied about what went on that day. Both of them have since given consistent accounts over the years. After nervously exchanging some small talk, Brian then uttered those fateful words:

“the boys want you out”

I don’t know how to tell you this, but the boys want you out and it has already been agreed that Ringo is joining on Saturday.”

Pete recalled what happened next. “Only one echoed through my mind. Why, why, why? ‘They don’t think you’re a good enough drummer, Pete,’ Brian went on. ‘And George Martin doesn’t think you’re a good enough drummer.’ ‘I consider myself as good, if not better, than Ringo,’ I could hear myself saying.

does ringo know yet?

Beatles manager Brian Epstein
Beatles Manager Brian Epstein

“Then I asked: ‘Does Ringo knew about this yet?’ ‘He’s joining on Saturday,’ Eppy said.

” A conspiracy had clearly been going on for some time behind my back, but not one of the other Beatles could find the courage to tell me. The stab in the back had been left to Brian, and it had been left until almost the last minute. Even Ringo had been a party to it, someone else I had considered to be a pal until this momentous day.”

The meeting continued. “Epstein went on to what for him was simply next business at this shattering meeting. ‘We still have a couple of venues left before Ringo joins – will you play?’ ‘Yes,’ I nodded, not really knowing what I was saying, for my mind was in a turmoil. How could this happen to me? “

“Why had it taken two years for John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison to decide that my drumming was not of a high enough standard for them? Dazed, I made my way out of Brian’s office. Downstairs, Neil was waiting for me. ‘What’s happened?’ he asked as soon as he saw me, ‘you look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’” Pete walked straight past Billy Kinsley and Tony Crane of The Merseybeats, the group Brian was hoping Pete would join.”

Delving into the technicalities

We have to carefully look at, and challenge, every piece of available evidence, and consider the following statements:

  • Brian Epstein sacked Pete Best – the accepted truth since 1962
  • John, Paul, and George had hired Pete in the first place, and therefore they could fire him too

Definition of Dismissal: “Dismissal (referred to informally as firing or sacking) is the termination of employment by an employer against the will of an employee.” 

Pete Best was not an employee, so Brian couldn’t sack him. John, Paul and George couldn’t sack him either. In fact, Pete was a self-employed musician, so couldn’t be sacked by anybody.

Brian had to choose his words carefully

Now we know that Brian didn’t sack Pete, we have to examine what really happened.

The reason Brian used those exact words, “the boys want you out and it has already been agreed that Ringo is joining on Saturday” was not accidental; he chose those words very carefully.

Brian, as we know, was terribly nervous about the meeting, as Pete Best observed. It was because Brian knew he had to get the wording right, or it could have had dire consequences. Brian had to communicate Pete that he was sacking and replacing him, without saying those words.

Getting rid of Pete was not an easy matter. When he joined The Beatles, it was as an equal member, and therefore they became a partnership. The Beatles of John, Paul, George and Pete signed that Partnership Agreement at the end of 1961.

Another notable piece of evidence is the management contract that John, Paul, George and Pete signed as members of The Beatles. Brian hadn’t signed the contract. If Pete Best was simply a “hired hand”, then the contract would not have included him. The four Beatles were performing as a group, as a partnership.

No member of that partnership could fire another member. There needed to be a complex examination of the legal partnership among The Beatles and that management contract. Epstein needed the help of his solicitor, David Harris, to find a way to follow the instructions of John, Paul and George to get rid of Pete Best from The Beatles.

interview with Brian Epstein’s lawyer

Brian Epstein's lawyer, David Harris, who confirmed that Pete Best was not sacked
Brian Epstein’s lawyer, David Harris, who confirmed that Pete Best was not sacked

“Best wasn’t employed by Brian,” said Harris, “he was in partnership with the other three Beatles, and they had a partnership as a group known as ‘The Beatles’. Their partnership didn’t have to be in writing – not all contracts have to be in writing – but in general terms, a contract doesn’t have to be in writing. It can be verbal, like buying something in a shop. Same with this informal partnership agreement where they would work together as a group and share their profits. They could have agreed among themselves that they could divide the profits between themselves in any way they wanted.” What Harris didn’t know at the time is that The Beatles had a formal partnership agreement arranged in December 1961.

Brian had no authority to get rid of Pete

Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles
Finding the Fourth Beatle the story of the 23 drummers who put the beat into The Beatles

“The problem was,” said Harris, “that it was a Partnership. Brian had no authority to get rid of Pete. They (the other three Beatles) had to get rid of him, and dissolve the partnership. Brian could say that Ringo was replacing Pete.

I wrote a letter saying Brian would happily place him (Pete) in another group, as that was in his character anyway. He couldn’t sack him. The personal relationships didn’t suggest it, but the legal relationship did, that Pete was engaging Brian to provide work for him.” Pete and the other Beatles, in a legal context, employed Brian Epstein.

Finding the Fourth Beatle

Brian Epstein, on behalf of The Beatles, had already approached Bobby Graham, Ritchie Galvin and would also ask Johnny Hutchinson later this same day, but he had already lined up the young Ringo Starr. The rest, as they say, is history.

Read the full interview with Brian’s lawyer, David Harris, in Finding the Fourth Beatle.

David Bedford

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How Ringo Starr became the Beatles Drummer – In His Own Words

The Fab Four - George, John, Ringo and Paul. This was Ringo's first photo shoot after he became The Beatles drummer
The Fab Four – George, John, Ringo and Paul

Ringo becomes The Beatles drummer

Over the years, the story of how Ringo Starr became The Beatles drummer has been told in so many ways. It has taken on mythical proportions and so created an amalgam of scenarios that, if you look hard enough, is the truth. We have to investigate and piece the events together as best we can with exact times and dates. As more “facts” emerge, it retells more versions of the events, confusing the story even further.

Ringo sits in with The Beatles for Pete Best

No evidence exists to show that The Beatles offered Ringo the drumming job in The Beatles before August 1962. On the few occasions when Pete Best couldn’t make it, Ringo was their go-to drummer. This meant that they got to know each other a little better, musically. They first made a record together in Hamburg back in October 1960. Ringo next sat in with The Beatles was at their Christmas Party on 27th December 1961. On this occasion, Best had asked him to play in his place.

The Beatles at the Cavern - Pete, George, John and Paul. Ringo replaced Pete Best as The Beatles drummer
The Beatles at the Cavern – Pete, George, John and Paul

Ringo also played on 5th February at the Cavern, plus 26th March at The Cavern at lunchtime. He then joined them at the Kingsway Club in Southport in the evening. They knew what he was like to play with, and enjoyed playing with him in the group. This must have been a significant factor.

Examining The Evidence

Although some suggest that it would always be Ringo, the evidence says otherwise. Whatever transpired before Ringo Starr became The Beatles drummer, he was the right choice.

How did it happen? How did Ringo become the Beatles drummer? The Fourth Beatle? There are countless stories and multiple, often conflicting, versions of events. What does the evidence tell us?

Ringo explains how he joined The Beatles

In November 1962, Ringo told music journalist Chris Hutchins of the New Musical Express how he became The Beatles drummer. This interview, complete with relevant times, dates and locations, took place just three months after Ringo had joined the group. This interview appeared in my book, The Fab One Hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles.

Ringo sat in with The Beatles on four occasions over the previous year, with conversations about him joining the group. There is no evidence that The Beatles offered Ringo the job before the weekend of 10th August 1962. In the interview, Ringo made no allusions to this, even a short time after joining them. The evidence only supports Ringo’s version.  

Friday, 10th August 1962: 10, Admiral Grove

John and Paul asked George to contact Ringo to invite him to join The Beatles.

 Richy (Ringo) with his mother, Elsie. From playing the accordian, he became The Beatles drummer
Young Richy (Ringo) with his mother, Elsie

In an interview with Mersey Beat, Ringo’s mother Elsie recalled this as the first time she had met George Harrison. She explained why he had called. “Ringo was at Butlins when George came up to the house—I hadn’t met him before—and asked if Ritchie was home,” she said. “I told him he wasn’t, and he said, ‘Tell him we’re trying to get him to join us.’” 

George Harrison explains

George corroborated this. “I went round to Ringo’s house when he was playing at Butlins, sat and had some tea with his mother and said, ‘Next time, tell your Ringo to call me up because I want him to be in our group’.”  

Elsie’s comments confirm that she hadn’t met George before, so there is no evidence of a close friendship between George and Ringo at that point.

Ringo seems to verify this: “I found it harder to get close to George Harrison. As the youngest Beatle, he backed off rather than try to compete for the limelight with the extrovert John and Paul. George was the original Little Boy Lost.”  

Saturday, 11th August 1962: The Odd Spot Club and The Blue Angel

Ringo (centre) with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Ringo explains how he became The Beatles drummer
Ringo (centre) with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes

Ringo had returned to Liverpool from Butlin’s and later recalled how The Beatles asked him to join on this day. “One Saturday morning,” Ringo said, “Elsie said that George Harrison had called and would I go down to see them at the Hot Spot (sic)?” This was actually The Odd Spot in Bold Street, Liverpool. 

“It was my night off and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it. During the break, John, Paul, and George invited me to join them at the Blue Angel later on. Pete Best wasn’t coming, they said. At the Blue Angel, they introduced me to Brian Epstein. We shook hands, and he seemed a bit surprised by my appearance. I had a beard and a gray streak in my hair then.” 

Ringo at the back, with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. Roy Trafford explains how Ringo became The Beatles drummer
Ringo at the back, with the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group. Roy Trafford, centre

Ringo, as he always did, discussed the offer with his best friend, Roy Trafford. “When Ringo was asked to join The Beatles, it was a surprise to him and he didn’t know which way to go,” Roy related, “so he asked me, ‘What do you think?’ I told him ‘what have you got to lose? Have a go. I don’t know whether I made a difference to his decision, but it definitely worked out for the best’.” (Read David’s full interview with Roy in Finding the Fourth Beatle) The key phrase is that ‘it was a surprise’ to Ringo showing that he had no expectation of joining The Beatles.

Tuesday, 14th August 1962: The Drive To Butlin’s?

Did Paul and John drive to Butlin’s to see Ringo? It is possible, but it was a long way—around 180 miles each way, and before there were motorways—with very little time to spare. We can’t be sure if they made the trip.

johnny guitar remembers

Johnny Guitar and Ringo.
Johnny Guitar and Ringo

There are eyewitnesses though as Johnny Guitar from the Hurricanes remembers seeing them there. “John and Paul knocked on the door to our caravan about ten o’clock one morning, and I was very surprised because John hated Butlin’s. Paul said, ‘We’ve come to ask Ringo to join us.’ We went into the camp and Rory said, ‘What are we going to do because this is mid-season and we can’t work without a drummer?’ Paul said, ‘Mr. Epstein would like Pete Best to play with you.’ We couldn’t stand in Ringo’s way ‘cause we knew The Beatles would be big. We went back to Liverpool and saw Pete, but he was so upset that he didn’t want to play with anybody’.”

Spencer Leigh verified with Johnny Guitar that John and Paul visited Butlin’s, Skegness. “Yes, Rory got a big shock when Ringo said he would leave, and so did I,” Johnny said. “It is possible that Ringo had been tipped the wink on his last visit to Liverpool, but we had no inkling of what was going on.”  This would fit with the visit to Liverpool the previous weekend, as Ringo described.

ringo doesn’t remember

However, Ringo denied seeing them at Butlin’s. “I don’t remember John coming over, which was in somebody’s book.” John hasn’t mentioned it, and Paul doesn’t have any clear recollection of it either. Neil Aspinall told author Mark Lewisohn that Paul McCartney The Beatles’ van to see Ringo at Butlin’s, Skegness, though this couldn’t be verified. If it happened, then this was a follow-up to the conversation that John, Paul, George and Ringo had on Saturday 11th August when they took him to meet Brian. If this was the case, then the only day for this drive was 14th August when they were not playing during the day.

waiting for brian Epstein to call

So Ringo was on standby now to receive a phone call from Brian Epstein, and to join The Beatles.

Ringo Starr became The Beatles drummer, but there was a further twist to come…

David Bedford

Full Story in Finding the Fourth Beatle

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Beatles History: A Second Drummer is asked to replace Original Beatles Drummer Pete Best

Ringo Starr was certainly not first on the list to replace Best

Beatles drummer Pete Best
Beatles drummer Pete Best

After the Beatles took the decision to replace Pete Best as their drummer, Brian Epstein approached Bobby Graham first of all to offer him the job. As unbelievable as it would seem in retrospect, Graham turned The Beatles down.

Ritchie Galvin is asked to join The Beatles

Ritchie Galvin on drums was asked by Brian Epstein to replace Pete Best in The Beatles
Ritchie Galvin on drums was asked by Brian Epstein to replace Pete Best in The Beatles

The second drummer that Epstein approached was Ritchie Galvin, drummer with Earl Preston and the TTs, as featured in the book Finding the Fourth Beatle. As with all stories connected to The Beatles, can this be corroborated? Let’s explore.

Ritchie didn’t like john lennon’s sarcasm

Ritchie Galvin was born Ritchie Hughes, but chose to adopt the name Galvin from the group he was fronting, The Galvinisers. Spencer Leigh spoke to Galvin’s girlfriend, and later his wife, Ann Upton. “Brian Epstein asked Ritch about joining The Beatles and he went to see Ritch’s dad as he was still under age,” Upton said. “Bob Wooler was with him, too. Ritch said that he didn’t agree with Pete being replaced and he didn’t like John Lennon’s sarcasm as he thought that they would fall out. Also, to my credit, he didn’t want to be leaving me as they would be working away from Liverpool quite a lot. He never regretted it and he said, ‘No, I wouldn’t have you and I wouldn’t have my kids and I wouldn’t have this life.'”

Ritchie Galvin on drums, who was asked to join The Beatles. Bass player Mike Kinney confirms the story
Ritchie Galvin on drums, who was asked to join The Beatles. Bass player Mike Kinney confirms the story

Brian Epstein and bob wooler

Galvin told many fellow musicians – like Earl Preston (Joey Spruce), Phil Brady, and Mike Kinney – the exact same story, how Brian Epstein and Bob Wooler, DJ at the Cavern, approached Ritchie and offered him the job with The Beatles, but he turned it down, especially because he didn’t like John Lennon – a common theme!

Galvin decided to settle down with his girlfriend, and stick with Earl Preston, as well as later playing with many Liverpool bands. He was a highly respected musician on the circuit.

Would Galvin have been good for the beatles?

“Ritchie produced a powerhouse of sound on the drums, and was nicknamed ‘thunder foot’,” said Kinney. “He was a great friend with a fabulous sense of humour, and an incredible drummer. When he set the tempo, he never moved either way. As a bass player it’s exactly what you need from your drummer. He was one of the most respected drummers on Merseyside right up until he died. I shed many a tear when he passed.”

Finding the Fourth Beatle
Finding the Fourth Beatle

You can read the full story in “Finding the Fourth Beatle“. Galvin was the second drummer to turn The Beatles down, but he wouldn’t be the last, before Ringo Starr agreed to join them.

How different things could have been!

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David Bedford

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Beatles History: The Beatles’ Final Appearance at The Cavern on 3rd August 1963

From The quarrymen to the beatles

The Beatles first appeared at The Cavern when they were just The Quarrymen, back in early 1957. It wasn’t until February 1961 that as The Beatles, thanks to Mona Best, made their first appearance at the legendary Cavern Club on Mathew Street. It was a lunchtime session, and it wasn’t long before they made their debut in the evenings too. It was later in 1961 that Brian Epstein walked into The Cavern and saw The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best. Within weeks he had signed them and arranged an audition for them at Decca. 

Between their first appearance and their last appearance on 3rd August 1963, they played nearly 300 times. Their final show did not go without incident.

The Cavern Club, Mathew Street, where The Beatles played nearly 300 times
The Cavern Club, Mathew Street, where The Beatles played nearly 300 times

The fab four: “please please me”

The Beatles were by now nationwide stars, and touring the country after the success of their singles and number one album, “Please Please Me”. The Fab Four were moving away from Liverpool, and setting up home in London, where the national media was located.  That last night at The Cavern would be their last, even though they didn’t realise it at the time.

The Cavern was a jazz club before The Beatles played rock n roll music there
The Cavern Jazz Festival as they began to have Beat Nights before long

“The crowds outside were going mad. By the time John Lennon had got through the cordon of girls, his mohair jacket had lost a sleeve. I grabbed it to stop a girl getting away with a souvenir. John stitched it back on. They may have altered their style elsewhere, but they didn’t do it at the Cavern. They were the same old Beatles, with John saying, “Okay, tatty-head, we’re going to play a number for you.’ There was never anything elaborate about his introductions.” Paddy Delaney, Cavern Club doorman

Brian Epstein promised they would return

Tickets for the final show had gone on sale at 21 July at 1.30pm, and sold out within 30 minutes. The fees for their last Cavern show were £300, a lot more than they received for their first appearance. By then, The Beatles could command almost any fee they wanted. With only 500 people there, at 10 shillings each, it was impossible for The Caverb to make money that night. Brian Epstein promised the club’s compère Bob Wooler that The Beatles would return, but they never did.

The Beatles at the Cavern Club in 1961; Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney
The Beatles in The Cavern in 1961; Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“The Beatles were very professional: there was no larking around and they got on with it. We all felt it was their swan song and that we would never have them at the Cavern again. Brian Epstein still owes the Cavern six dates for The Beatles as he kept pulling them out of bookings by saying, ‘You wouldn’t stand in the boys’ way, would you, Bob?” Bob Wooler

“When i’m sixty-four”: The first live performance

The show lasted from 6pm-11.30pm and The Beatles were joined on the bill were The Escorts, The Merseybeats, The Road Runners, Johnny Ringo and the Colts, and Faron’s Flamingos. However, during The Beatles’ set, there was a power cut – which was not unusual at the Cavern – and so they couldn’t use any of their equipment. As the show must go on, Paul McCartney moved over to the piano, and played a song the crowd hadn’t heard before, and wouldn’t hear on record for a few years: ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ from the legendary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Having shown that The Beatles had outgrown this primitive club, Lennon was not happy:

The Fab Four: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, who last played at The Cavern on 3rd August 1963
The Fab Four: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, who last played at The Cavern on 3rd August 1963

“We were on just before The Beatles and we were delighted with our reception as everybody was cheering and going mad. The Beatles all had long faces and John Lennon was saying, ‘We never should have come back here.” Tony Crane, The Merseybeats

Although this was the last Cavern appearance, it wasn’t their last Liverpool appearance, which happened in December 1965 at the Empire Theatre.

A Cavern Club membership card
Cavern Membership Card

Hello, goodbye

But for those Cavernites, it was the last time they saw their hometown heroes, The Beatles, in The Cavern.

David Bedford

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26th July 1962 in Beatles History – Cambridge Hall, Southport

Southport Arts Centre
Southport Arts Centre, formerly Cambridge Hall

Beatles History: July 1962. The Beatles – John, Paul, George and Pete Best – made just the one appearance at this venue in the seaside town of Southport, just 20 miles north of Liverpool. Brian Epstein took action to get The Beatles out of the rock ‘n’ roll clubs, and this was all part of his strategy.

Cambridge Hall is now the Southport Arts Centre. (Featured in Liddypool)

On this occasion they were supporting one of Britain’s top acts, Joe Brown and his Bruvvers; The Beatles regularly covered Brown’s hit records. Brian had recently received news that they had a Recording Contract with Parlophone, and now Brian acted, sooner rather than later.

The following day, Brian approached the first drummer as a potential replacement for Pete Best; and it wasn’t Ringo Starr! Beatles history was about to be made. (The full story is in Finding the Fourth Beatle)

David Bedford

Discover David’s books at www.beatlesshop.co.uk

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1961 in Beatles History: The Beatles are the best group; Brian Epstein discovers The Beatles at The Cavern Club

Stu with The Beatles in Hamburg
Stu with The Beatles in Hamburg

Spring 1961 – The Beatles and Steve Calrow

Spring 1961 – John, Paul, George and Alan

24th June 1961 – Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers record “My Bonnie”

6th July 1961 – Bill Harry founds Mersey Beat

19th October 1961 – The Beatles and the Beatmakers

28th October 1961 – Raymond Jones asks for a copy of “My Bonnie”: interview with Alistair Taylor

9th November 1961 – Brian Epstein discovers The Beatles at the Cavern

10th November 1961 – Sam Leach and Operation Big Beat

24th November 1961 – The Beatles and Davy Jones

December 1961 – Tony Barrow and The Beatles

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Beatles History

If you want to know the key events in Beatles History, then this is the page for you. This will help you navigate the website, to find the Beatles history you need to know. Each link will take you to a different page on the site, where a post, article or interview is located. I will be constantly updating the site, so check back for the latest in Beatles history, discussing Beatles names, Beatles members, Beatles drummers and who the original Beatles were.

The information is from my three books: “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles”, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” and “Finding the Fourth Beatle”.

To make it easier to find, there is a separate page for each year. Select the page year to find out what happened in Beatles history that year.

1956 – The Quarrymen are formed

1957 – John and Paul meet, and George joins The Quarrymen

1958 – The Quarry Men make a record, and John’s mother is killed

1959 – The Quarrymen open The Casbah Coffee Club

1960 – The year that made The Beatles. Many Beatles drummers, lots of different Beatles names, Allan Williams is the Beatles manager and they go to Hamburg

1961 – The Beatles are the best group; Brian Epstein discovers The Beatles at The Cavern Club

1962 – Decca audition, George Martin signs The Beatles, Pete Best is sacked/ dismissed from The Beatles (the truth is revealed) and Ringo Starr joins. The Fab Four is born and “Love Me Do”, their first single, is released.

David's Social Media
David’s Social Media

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27 June 1746: Bonnie Prince Charlie escapes the English, leading to Brian Epstein signing The Beatles. Honest!

My Bonnie
“My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”

When Flora MacDonald in 1746 helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from the English to the Isle of Skye, and then to France, little did they know it would help Brian Epstein sign The Beatles! Seriously? Yes! read on.

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie

My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean

The Scottish folk song that recorded that story was called “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”. When, in 1961, German Producer Bert Kaempfert decided to make a record with Tony Sheridan, backed by The Beatles (as The Beat Brothers), he wanted a song that the German people would know, but was also performed by the British musicians. He chose “My Bonnie” and “When The Saints Go Marching In”.

My Bonnie Record
“My Bonnie” by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers

Recording “My Bonnie”

Kaempfert combined melody with lush orchestral strings and brass. As well as orchestral and jazz-oriented records, he wrote the music for “Strangers In The Night”, recorded by Frank Sinatra, “Wooden Heart” recorded by Elvis Presley, as well as hits for Nat King Cole and Al Martino. Kaempfert must be one of the few, if not only, to have worked with Elvis, Sinatra and The Beatles.

Friedrich-Ebert-Halle
The Hall Where The Beatles recorded “My Bonnie”

Bert worked for Polydor, who often recorded at a school theatre in Hamburg Harburg. But this was no ordinary theatre, as I found out when I visited there in 2017. Kaempfert had The Beatles and Tony Sheridan, who had been playing this song together at the Top Ten Club, set up on the stage. This is where myth and fact combined to create urban myths!

The stage where The Beatles recorded "My Bonnie"
The Beatles recorded “My Bonnie” on this stage

Some say Kaempfert removed Pete Best’s bass drum and other drums, because he was so bad. This, they claim, became the first of many producers to be dissatisfied with Best’s drumming. There is no evidence for that.

What we do know is that Bert Kaempfert was happy to use The Beatles as a backing band, having seen them several times at the Top Ten Club. We also know that he never used heavy rock ‘n’ roll drums on any track, as he was into Easy Listening music. He therefore asked Pete Best to only use his snare drum and hi-hat cymbal, which he used to great effect, as you can tell when you listen to the record. We have evidence of that. Best’s drumming is superb!

Finding The Fourth Beatle

Because there are so many myths, misunderstandings and deliberate mistellings, I was determined in our book, Finding the Fourth Beatle, to ask real drummers what they thought of Pete Best’s drumming on “My Bonnie”. As I said in the book; I am not qualified to offer a professional opinion on drummers, as I am not a drummer, just an author.

Feedback from the drummers

“As Pete Best is not using his bass drum or floor tom, he does a really good job. Maybe Pete at that stage wasn’t experienced or talented enough maybe to play quieter. That is great drumming and a really good, high-speed drum roll in perfect time. How could anyone criticise that?” Mike Rice

“Very tight drum rolls at speed which is hard to do and keep in time. Especially as he didn’t use his full kit, he is very inventive in the use of the snare, with good flicks on the hi-hat, using it like a crash cymbal. A very technical piece of drumming, expertly executed.” Derek and Andrew Hinton

“My Bonnie” and other Songs

What songs were recorded, and in what order, is not known as there is little paperwork completed at the time. It is generally accepted that seven songs were recorded with Kaempfert. On the 22nd June, and possibly on the 23rd June 1961, four songs were committed to tape: “My Bonnie”, plus a German vocal as “Mein Herz Ist Bei Dir”; “The Saints (When The Saints Go Marching In)”; “Why”, written by Sheridan, and “Cry For A Shadow”, George Harrison’s skit on the Shadows, with a virtuoso solo performance, credited to Harrison/ Lennon.

The Beatles were also invited to perform another song, and John chose “Ain’t She Sweet”, one of his favourites, and one that would probably have fitted in with Kaempfert’s desire to record easy listening, old-time songs, that the German listener could identify with. However, what John produced was the harder, rockier sounding vocal performance that they would have done on stage, which didn’t really do him, or the group, justice. There were to be no vocal harmonies that would become their trademark in years to come.

My copy of "My Bonnie" signed by Pete Best
My copy of “My Bonnie” signed by Pete Best

It is also thought that they recorded “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby (If You Love Me, Baby)”, probably at the same sessions, but there isn’t any documentation to confirm this. Sheridan, ably assisted by Paul on bass and Pete on drums also recorded “Nobody’s Child” as well. 

This was the Beatles being recorded for the first time as a group, in a studio, with a bona fide producer.    

“My Bonnie”, Brian Epstein and The Beatles

To complete the story, Brian Epstein became interested in The Beatles when local fans started asking to order “My Bonnie” by The Beatles. This brought them to Brian’s attention, who, as a record retailer, was interested in a local group who could sell records. (Read the interview with Alistair Taylor for more on that story).

And so, the story that started with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape from the English way back in 1746 led to Brian signing The Beatles.

For a detailed look at the recording of “My Bonnie”, it is featured in Finding the Fourth Beatle.

David Bedford

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