Life gets better for unlucky ex-Beatle Pete Best

By Matthew Lewis

SINGAPORE, May 25, 1996 (Reuter) - Drummer Pete Best, considered one of the unluckiest figures in rock history after his 1962 firing by the Beatles just before they shot to fame, says he is finally getting what he deserves -- recognition and royalties.

Best, 54 and still Liverpool-based, does not look back in anger on his pre-Fab Four days.

The friendly and soft-spoken drummer, whose brushed-back helmet of grey hair and immaculate mustache are reminiscent more of singer Engelbert Humperdinck than John Lennon, now fronts his own band which is on the road for an 18-country tour.

The Pete Best Band, whose other five members were not born when the Beatles broke up in 1970, plays "classic rock 'n' roll" including a peppering of Beatles' standards, said Best.

The handsome drummer was abruptly sacked in August 1962 in favour of Ringo Starr. A few days later, the Beatles recorded their first hit single, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You."

Best told Reuters on Friday he was pleased by the "The Beatles Anthology 1," a double-CD set of early rareties released late last year with great fanfare.

The album has sold millions of copies worldwide.

"It makes me happy in view of the fact that they've actually given me acknowledgment -- I'm on 10 tracks," said Best in a familiar Liverpool lilt.

He was in Singapore with former Beatles' manager Allan Williams to promote the opening of a Beatles-themed restaurant called Pepper's.

Williams, 64, who managed the group from 1959 to 1961, likes to point out that Best actually drummed for the Beatles with John, Paul and George far longer than Starr, as measured in onstage man-hours.

The Beatles Anthology 1 has "given me a little bit of recognition, which for so many years was denied," said Best. "Financially, it's going to be rewarding as well, because this time around there are royalities."

Asked how much he stood to earn, Best said: "There's a lot of speculation, of people saying I'll be a millionaire before the end of the year. We'll wait and see. If it transpires, I'll be very happy."

Best, a walking compendium of Beatles lore, said the first original song ever played live was the obscure "Love of the Loved", which the group never recorded.

"We knew our own potential, that somewhere along the line, we were going to make it."

Best said he felt sorry for his former pals, who had to endure intense fame, broken marriages and loss of privacy.

"They've gone through an awful lot," he said. "Financially they're well off, but socially, I don't know. My own view is it's a very cloistered life -- the penalty that success brings."

Best, who hasn't spoken to the other Beatles since his firing, said he bears no grudge.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's history. Whether they feel inhibited by it, I don't know."

"If we did meet up (today), from my side, it would be very much a case of, not what happened 30 years ago, but what's happening now, and what are you going to do next?"

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