Tuesday, September 25The Voice of London

Ringo Starr Was Not The Beatles Original Drummer: What Happened?

The Beatles have sold over 250 million records worldwide and Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr have become household names. But there was an original member who missed out on all of the success.

Words: Alex Hurd Sub editor: Simone Wright

Ringo Starr. Source Flickr/badgreeb
Ringo Starr. Source: Flickr/badgreeb

Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum kit sold for £1.4 million at an auction in Beverly Hills, California on Friday. It’s just another piece of memorabilia from the Liverpool band that fans spend silly amounts, purely on their legendary status. But Ringo for all his fame and estimated £300 million net worth wasn’t the original drummer for the band. Someone else was drumming before…

So how did he not end stay drumming for undoubtedly the greatest band of all time?

The original man backing Lennon, McCartney and Harrison was Pete Best. Best was asked to join the band in August 1960, by McCartney for some gigs they had booked in Hamburg. He was recruited on the basis that he could hold a beat and was popular with the ladies back home.

Pete Best in 2006. Source: Wikimedia.
Pete Best in 2006. Source: Wikimedia/Groupsixty

It was after they went into the studio that tensions started to brew as the band failed an audition for Decca records on New Year’s Day, 1962. They went back in again to record four songs at EMI studios (which later became Abbey Road) with George Martin, known as the ‘fifth Beatle,’ in part due to his work on their early albums.

It was Martin, who made comments that he was happy with the recording but wanted to use a much more experienced session drummer, as he thought their wasn’t a tight enough beat. After the other three learnt that the engineers and producer wanted to use a different drummer, they made the decision to sack Best.

The band cowardly asked their manager Brian Epstein to deliver the news. Although Best was never truly given a real reason for his dismissal, many rumours have surfaced behind his harsh sacking.

Obviously his playing level is cited as the reason but during their early success, Best was the fan favourite, and another conspiracy why he was cut loose, came down to him receiving more attention then the other three. A claim that all three other members strongly deny.

Ringo Starr is always known as the man that drove the Beatles to the top with the sticks, but really he was a replacement that got lucky. While another drummer from Liverpool may have the biggest, ‘I could have been’ of all time.