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Mach Shau in Manhattan
The Pete Best Band celebrate the end of the Spring tour

by Timothy Tilghman

Pete Best walked away from show business in 1968. Best originally took up drumming in the Fall of 1959, forming The Blackjacks with Chas Newby and Billy Barlow. They would welcome Ken Brown once The Blackjacks became the resident houseband for the Casbah Coffee Club after The Quarrymen vacated the position. Pete's mum, Mona, was the proud proprietor of this popular youth cellar located in West Derby.

Pete had met John, Paul and George as members of The Quarrymen. When the skiffle group agreed to open the Casbah Coffee Club in August 1959, the three aspiring musicians lent their labor in painting the Casbah. Fast forward one year later, Best received a phone call from McCartney asking him to travel to Germany as drummer for The Beatles. Best joined the lads as fifth Beatle behind Stu Sutcliffe on bass.

The Beatles had never had a permanent drummer before and Pete Best provided a foundation in sound for the embryonic Fabs. Over the course of 24 months, Best grounded The Beatles through dates in Hamburg and Liverpool, broadcasts on BBC Radio, and recording sessions with Decca and Parlophone.

Without warning upon securing a recording contract in August 1962, manager Brian Epstein informed Pete Best he was being terminated as a Beatle. The lads had chosen to replace him with Ringo Starr and Pete's fans reacted in anger at his inexplicable dismissal. Best carried on drumming for the Pete Best Combo, eventually seeking employment as a Civil Servant to support his young family.

Two decades have passed since Best was coaxed out of showbiz retirement to perform live once again in Liverpool. Pete invited his younger brother Roag Best to join him on drums in the Pete Best Band, and the two are now an inseparable team on percussion. Although the musicians in the group have alternated over the years, the current PBB line up may be the strongest stage presentation yet.

The PBB have become a powerhouse stage act. With the Best brothers pounding out the percussion are Phil Melia on lead guitar, Paul Parry on bass guitar, and Tony Flynn on rhythm guitar. All three talented musicians take turns at lead vocals and share in singing harmony vocals together.

Promoter Sid Bernstein, singer Billy J. Kramer, and author May Pang were a few of the celebrities that turned out at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City for the Pete Best Band performance on Sunday, June 1, 2008. Q104.3 Radio personality Ken Dashow appeared on stage to deliver the introduction for the PBB.

As the Pete Best Band launched its musical assault on stage, the audience kept growing. Both the lower and upper center seating tiers reached full capacity. Parry brought Pete Best forward to greet the crowd. "Hello New York. Hello B.B. King's. It's Sunday night in New York City", exclaimed Best who made mention of celebrities and friends by name in the room.

One important component of the PBB show is that the group plays the earliest of Lennon & McCartney standards written during Pete's tenure as a Beatle. On the final night of the Spring tour, the NYC audience received three rare musical treats with "Like Dreamers Do", "Ain't She Sweet", and "Hippy Hippy Shake".

The lads were blessed with two Tequila toasts during their energetic performance. Pete returned front and center before the ecstatic BBK crowd once more asking, "Aren't the band great?", before he introduced the individual PBB members. Best recalled his days as a Beatle in Hamburg when they supported singer Tony Sheridan in the recording studio on "My Bonnie".

The best news about the Pete Best Band is the upcoming release of their first studio album in September. Haymans Green features eleven prolific original compositions. The PBB are now booking Fall 2008 tour dates to coincide with the commercial premiere of the new disc. Recorded at the Casbah Club studio in Liverpool, Pete Best is poised to put both critics and detractors on notice with his outstanding endeavor. Be sure to mark your calendar to buy this album in September.

NYC setlist: Slow Down * What I'd Say * One After 909 * Like Dreamers Do * Please Mister Postman * Roll Over Beethoven * Besame Mucho * Ain't She Sweet * Three Cool Cats * You Really Got A Hold On Me * Till There Was You * Long Tall Sally * Rock And Roll Music * Cry For A Shadow * My Bonnie * Lucille * Some Other Guy * I Saw Her Standing There * Twist And Shout * Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey * Encore: Hippy Hippy Shake* Johnny B. Goode

RockonTour   Issue #82
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