Pete Best

By Bill Harry  

Pete BestPete was drummer with the Beatles from 1960-1962 and, at one point, the most popular member of the group among the majority of Liverpool fans. In fact, in 1962, Mersey Beat was to observe that he was: ‘a figure with mystique, darkly good-looking and seemingly the one likely to emerge as the most popular Beatle.’

He was born Peter Randolph Best in Madras, India on 24 November 1941. His English parents were stationed in India at the time, where his father, John, was an army physical training instructor and his mother, Mona, was a nurse in the Red Cross.

Following the birth of Pete’s brother, Rory in 1944, the family sailed to England, moving to Liverpool and initially settling into a flat in Casey Street. Two years later they moved to 8 Haymans Green, a 15-room Victorian house in the West Derby district of the city.

When, at the age of 16, Pete began to take an interest in skiffle and rock ‘n’ roll music, he was encouraged by his parents. As so many friends were dropping in to see Pete and Rory, their mother suggested a novel idea – they could have a meeting place of their own by utilizing the seven adjoining basement rooms. The idea developed until they decided to turn the basement into a coffee bar-style venue, which was similar to Lowlands, a nearby club.

Mona (generally known to everyone as ‘Mo’) and her sons, together with about ten friends, began work on converting the basement. They had decided to open during the week as a coffee bar – where youngsters could dance to jukebox music – but would hire live groups for the weekend.

One of their helpers was Ruth Morrison, the girlfriend of George Harrison, who suggested that the Les Stewart Quartet, of which George was a member, could play at the club. They were currently appearing at the Lowlands club, which was situated on the opposite side of the street, 50 yards down from the Bests’ home.

As a result, George and Ken Brown, another member of the quartet, came around to see Mo.

However, group leader Les Stewart didn’t want to appear in the new coffee club, which Mo called the Casbah, and he had an argument with Brown. Brown left the group and George followed.

George then turned up with John Lennon and Paul McCartney and they teamed up with Brown as a quartet, assuming the former name of John’s skiffle group, the Quarry Men, to begin their residency. The group didn’t use a drummer at the time.

The club officially opened on Saturday 29 August 1959 and within a year they enrolled 1,000 members.

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