They Said - 'He was the Great Attraction'
Fans went wild over him. He was...
The Other Beatle
By Bill Harry
Mersey Beat: August 1 1963
Twelve months ago a young handsome drummer by the name of Pete Best was the most popular heart throb with Merseyside's teenage girls. His quiet, brooding manner set many a girl's pulse racing, and many people say he was the biggest attraction in the city and did much to establish the popularity of the Beatles.
Pete joined the Beatles in the early days and prior to their success on Merseyside, when they were finding difficulty obtaining regular bookings, they appeared frequently at a club owned by Pete's mother - the Casbah, Hayman's Green. In fact, Mrs Best did much to aid the progress of the group in the early days.
He was with the group when they played in the Jacaranda coffee club in the extremely small, but atmospheric cellar there...and during those Jacaranda days the group had their mics tied to broomsticks which were held by some of their fans.
On the German trips Pete was also a very popular member of the group and his hard driving beat was heard on the Polydor recordings with Tony Sheridan ('My Bonnie' and 'The Saints').
When the group began their fantastic rise to fame on Merseyside at Litherland Town Hall, Pete was virtually a boy wonder - the girls screamed for him. He was the quiet boy in the background - and the 'air of mystery' that surrounded him, whipped up the excitement still further. While the girls raved over the friendly, humorous conversations between John, George and Paul and the audience, they were also intrigued by the mysterious 'quiet man' in the drum seat.
In the now famous article on the Beatles by Bob Wooler in Issue No. 5 of Mersey Beat (still acknowledged as the best article on the group that has ever been written), Bob wrote: "The Beatles were...physically magnetic: Example: the mean, moody, magnificence of Pete Best - a sort of teenage Jeff Chandler."
And the moody magnificence grew.
Letters concerning Pete Best poured into our offices, and the fanaticism of his fan following grew. Girls screamed for him to sing on stage - they wanted him to come to the forefront.
When the German days were behind them and they had been voted Merseyside's top outfit in Mersey Beat, they made their first radio appearance at the Playhouse Theatre in Manchester.
John, George and Paul made their entrance on stage to cheers and applause, but when Pete walked on - the fans went wild! The girls screamed. In Manchester his popularity was assured by his looks alone.
Following another radio show, there were crowds of fans waiting outside the theatre when the Beatles came out and settled into a coach with their fans for the journey back to Liverpool - hundreds of girls had cornered Pete in a doorway screaming for an autograph, and he had to be left behind.
Further proof of his appeal reached us when several people mentioned that girls slept in his garden. At first we didn't believe such reports. but it was eventually confirmed that girls went to his house and stayed overnight sleeping in his garden just to be near him!
Southport promoter Ron Appleby was a former compere at Litherland Town Hall. He was, in fact, the first person to announce the group in public as 'The Beatles', following their decision to shorten it from 'The Silver Beatle.' Commenting on Pete's appeal, Ron says, "He was definately the big attraction with the group, and did much to establish tbeir popularity during their early career.