In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell highlighted the importance of Hamburg, Germany as the crucial formative location for the Beatles. They performed and practiced tirelessly, slept in studios and formed the sound that established the foundation for their eventual success.
It was 1960 — the band performed as the Silver Beatles, hadn’t yet adopted their moptops, and was more than just the foursome the world came to know them as. The bandmates were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best.
Clearly, other changes were afoot before the Fab Four made their stateside debut on The Ed Sullivan Show four years later. They’d dropped “Silver” from their name by the time they hit Hamburg and Sutcliffe left in 1961 to pursue an art career.
But what about Best?
He was fired on August 16, 1962, after two years of Beatlehood. His personal website‘s story concludes cryptically. “Unfortunately, in circumstances still clouded in mystery, Pete Best was dismissed from the group he had played with for over 2 years. The real reason was never given to Pete. The rest is legend…”
In reality, Best was never personally given a reason other than that the band didn’t want him around anymore. He was phased out in favor of a session drummer, a seasoned musician who could fill in during recording, even though he was popular with fans. Manager Brian Epstein was hesitant to boot Best until the studio issued an ultimatum — Best was out, or there would be no album.
That session drummer that stepped in was Ringo Starr, and the rest of the story is Beatles history.
Best confessed to the Daily Mail in 2007 that he attempted suicide in the 1960s after seeing the Beatles’ international success in his absence. He told the Daily Mail he “regained his senses” after the unfortunate scenario and focused on his family and music. Best, who was commonly considered the most attractive out of the group’s initial lineup, resumed a career in music and recording that endures to this day.
(PHOTOS: Behind the Camera with the Beatles)