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Liverpool welcomes Pete Best
The Pete Best Band is on hand for the borough's Bicentennial Celebration

by Timothy Tilghman

Pete Best was home in Liverpool, sorta. This was the third Liverpool he has performed at and the third to adopt him. Randolph Peter Best was actually born in Madras, India, in November 1941. The Best family sailed to Liverpool, England, just in time for the 1945 Christmas Holiday. Pete became a natural Scouser after having laid his roots in Liverpool.

Mona Best, Pete's Mum, later moved the family into Hayman's Green in 1957, a mansion of a home in West Derby after placing a substantial secret bet on a longshot horse Never Say Die that won bigtime 33-1 odds in 1954. Mo encouraged the emerging youth culture in Liverpool by establishing the Casbah Coffee Club in the large basement of their family home.

John Lennon's first group, The Quarrymen, performed as the premiere act on August 29, 1959. Best would eventually take up drumming for his own group The Blackjacks. In August 1960, The Beatles were in need of a drummer to join them on their debut tour of duty in Hamburg, Germany. Paul McCartney telephoned Best and personally asked him to join as drummer.

Pete Best became the Fabs first permanent drummer in the red light district of Hamburg. In those days on bass guitar was Stu Sutcliffe. The Beatles made a triumphant return to Liverpool leveling the Casbah Club in December 1960. Best backed Tony Sheridan as a Beat Brother on his 1961 single "My Bonnie" recorded in Germany. The Beatles would distill their stage reputation at the Cavern Club where Brian Epstein would call on them during one of their infamous lunchtime sessions.

A January 1962 audition with Decca Records proved fruitless. With Best banging on the skins, the Fabs appeared on BBC Radio broadcasts and secured a recording session with Parlophone Records in June 1962. As producer, a concern of George Martin about studio recordings inadvertently became the catalyst that sparked the dismissal of Pete Best as drummer for The Beatles in August 1962.

Best toiled in show business through 1968, finally abandoning his drumkit. In 1988, Best was coaxed to sit behind the drums with the first incarnation of the Pete Best Band for a performance in Liverpool, following the passing of his mother. Now 20 years later with 10 tracks featuring his drumming on the first Beatles Anthology album, Pete Best routinely schedules multiple tours each year and enjoys meeting Fab fans that look forward to shaking the hand of the Man who put the Beat in the Beatles.

Perry County Pennsylvania 1808

The Borough of Liverpool, located in Perry County, hosted its Bicentennial Celebration during the weekend of May 16 through May 18. The Pennsylvania township is a small rural community that rests quietly beside communal Routes 11 & 15 alongside the Susquehanna River.

Because of unpleasant heavy rainfall, the Bicentennial festivities were essentially curtailed on Sunday. All Bicentennial activity was relocated inside the church. A Museum presentation reflecting upon the history of Liverpool was set up inside the church reception room. The Liverpool postal clerk sold a three-issue series of hand canceled Liverpool Bicentennial postcards.

The Borough of Liverpool published a nice hardbound book REFLECTIONS OF LIVERPOOL 1808 - 2008. There was also a framed Proclamation in Recognition of the 200th Birthday of the Borough of Liverpool, Pennsylvania issued by Marlene J. Ward, Mayor - Village of Liverpool, Onondaga County, New York.

Paul Davie of the Fab Five (homebased in the Village of Liverpool, NY) befriended Phil Bimpson, aka the British Liverpool Ambassador. Bimpson had visited Liverpool, PA, and was familiar with The Facktory, an oversized all ages multi-purpose recreation room within the borough township. Davie had contacted Facktory owners Brent Lesperance & Tom Sparks to negotiate a performance date for The Fab Five.

Through a peculiar series of coincidences, Davie was unaware of the Bicentennial weekend in May as he spoke with Brent & Tom to secure a date. Across the pond in the paternal Liverpool, the Pete Best Band were busy scheduling its Spring 2008 U.S. Tour. Davie had welcomed the PBB to Liverpool Village twice since 2006. And then a blessed lightning bolt struck Davie - the Pete Best Band would be available to appear in Liverpool during the Bicentennial celebratory weekend.

Liverpool Ambassador Phil Bimpson introduced the Fab Five. He has traveled to all nine Liverpools around the globe. Bimpson has a website promoting his worldly travels having visited these foreign Liverpools. Concurrently, Liverpool U.K. is celebrating eight centuries in 2008 as the Capital of Culture, which eclipses Liverpool in Perry County celebrating a mere 200 years.

The Fab Five were Fab! Highlights in their entertaining repertoire included "The Kids Are Alright", "That Thing You Do", "No Matter What", "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "You Really Got Me" & "Getting Better". Davie has exceptional graphic talents and designed a very special souvenir concert ticket for the PBB Facktory date. Paul prints these cool commemoratives for Fab fans to enjoy as a tangible memory of the event.

Liverpool Lad Live 2008

"Mr. Liverpool", Phil Bimpson, had the distinct honor introducing the borough's special guest Pete Best. A much anticipated date on the PBB's current 2008 Spring Tour, the group immediately took flight on stage with "Slow Down". The intense combustibility of that tune captured the crowd right from the get-go.

Pete Best briefly stepped forward to greet those in attendance encouraging their participation to have a good time. Melia sang lead vocals on two back to back classic Lennon & McCartney compositions: John's "One After 909" and Paul's "Like Dreamers Do". Two strong songs that have weathered the test of time.

Parry switched up the tempo with his tender vocal on "P.S. I Love You", another early Fab original, and the furious "Besame Mucho", a fast-paced rocker that is a concert highlight. A cool design quirk in the Facktory stage granted spectators a side access view to the raised performance zone enabling Fab fans to snap pix of Pete playing behind his kit.

Once again, Parry sang counter melodies on the subtle "Till There Was You" and the abrasive "Long Tall Sally". His amazing vocal versatility is a powerful asset to the PBB stage act. Flynn had a turn at the mike with the engaging "Rock And Roll Music" while Melia treated the Liverpool audience to a spiked rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown". Parry reintroduced Pete Best for a second time.

"Give yourself a hand. It's your Bicentennial", was Pete's remark prior to introducing the lads. Roag Best, younger brother, shares percussion duties on stage with Pete. Tony Flynn's on rhythm guitar, Phil Melia's on lead guitar, Paul Parry's on bass, and all three musicians contribute lead & harmony backing vocals. Pete went on to recall recording a German single with the Fabs in 1961. "My Bonnie" became famous after Beatlemania raged worldwide in 1964.

Melia sang softly as the band launched into "My Bonnie", but Roag thumped his sticks wildly accelerating the tempo. During the bass and clapping segue, the lads called out to the audience to sing the chorus wherein Tony quipped, "One for land, two for sea". An abrupt climactic burst brought their incendiary stage romp to a halt.

Four fantastic rockers fueled the frenetic vibe, which is the signature sound of the PBB. Parry and Flynn alternated their fierce vocals on "Lucille", "Some Other Guy", "I Saw Her Standing There", and "Twist And Shout" respectively. A Facktory grand slam generated on that intimate stage, the diverse audience was thoroughly consumed by the professionalism of their musicianship.

The Pete Best Band were spot-on during their afternoon performance. As a prelude to the encore, Bimpson welcomed Liverpool Mayor John L. Mark on stage. The township Mayor presented Pete Best with the premiere KEY TO THE CITY of Liverpool as their celebrity star during the Liverpool Bicentennial Celebration. Pete was exceedingly gracious in his acceptance speech.

The medley "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey" brought the performance to a close. Pete took the lead on percussion as Parry belted out the vocal. With hall audience members up and dancing to the frantic beat, the extended band jam during the chorus coda built into an incredible crescendo that climaxed with a spectacular drum solo delivered by Roag Best. His drumskins had to be bruised from that battery attack.

The Mach Shau environ perfectly suited the family atmosphere as generations came to share in the enjoyment of the Fab soundtrack and timeless songbook. Beatles music possesses an inherent magic that parents and children can enjoin together as a common connection. Not many musical legacies are able to boast that kind of sustained drawing power.

What a splendid afternoon in the `Pool! Brent and Sparky hosted a tremendous event on Sunday, May 18, 2008. Their friendly hospitality was refreshing. Hopefully with the Haymans Green tour planned this Fall, The Facktory will invite both fab bands to reschedule another joint appearance. Their cavernous clubhouse must be the center of the universe for activity during weekends in Liverpool.

Media Mach Shau

Pete Best and the PBB got some decent media mileage out of their Liverpool performance. The band appearance was covered by an internet radio broadcaster, a local newspaper reporter, a statewide publication, and a freelance photographer. Pete conducted a group interview for the journalists in attendance prior to the PBB going on stage.

Following the Facktory concert as the band was readying to depart, Bimpson directly contacted City Talk 105 FM back home in Liverpool and handed his cell phone over to Pete Best to participate in a live transatlantic radio interview. The big news item is Haymans Green, the new PBB studio endeavor.

There's plenty to discover about Pete Best. Best has authored three engaging book titles over the past two decades and recently released a compelling DVD: Best of The Beatles in 2005. The Pete Best Band has issued four albums on CD and is presently mastering its first new studio album consisting exclusively of eleven original compositions.

Haymans Green is a homegrown affair recorded at the Casbah Club studio in Liverpool. A media campaign is being coordinated to coincide when the Pete Best Band return to tour again in the Fall. The new disc is a fantastic masterpiece that is guaranteed to perk up your eardrums. Pete Best is ready to rock the critics with his acclaimed effort.

Liverpool setlist: Slow Down * What I'd Say * One After 909 * Like Dreamers Do * Please Mister Postman * P.S. I Love You * Roll Over Beethoven * Besame Mucho * Three Cool Cats * You Really Got A Hold On Me * Till There Was You * Long Tall Sally * Rock And Roll Music * Sweet Georgia Brown * My Bonnie * Lucille * Some Other Guy * I Saw Her Standing There * Twist And Shout * Liverpool Mayoral Key to the City presentation * Encore: Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey

Haymans Green

RockonTour   Issue #81
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