Randolph Peter Best, the man who put the Beat in The Beatles, appeared with the Pete Best Band at the Funk Box in Baltimore, Maryland, on Tuesday, July 13, 2004. Collectively dressed in black, the group plugged in and professionally played many musical memories of a bygone era.

     Pete Best was complimented by his younger brother Roag Best on drums. Their dual drumming partnership produces an added impact in their live sound. Vocalist Chris Cavanagh, lead guitarist Mark Hay, rhythm guitarist Phil Melia, and bassist Paul Parry are an outstanding cohesive unit that honors The Beatles' musical legacy in concert.

     With the introduction, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome all the way from Liverpool - The Pete Best Band!", the group kicked off their set with the 1958 Larry Williams classic "Slow Down". Their tight, crisp sound got the evening off to a strong start.

     The energy of the band was evident on "One After 909", a song rumored to have been offered to the Rolling Stones to record in 1964, but rejected by the rival quintet. Cavanagh and Parry provided strong harmonies on Lennon's classic rocker.

     Pete handled lead drums on "P.S. I Love You". Cavanagh, Melia and Parry sang harmony on this McCartney-penned B-side from October 1962. Best participated on aborted Parlophone studio recordings in June 1962, which included a version of this Beatle original.

     Cavanagh introduced Pete Best who came out from behind his drumkit to chat about "My Bonnie", the 1961 German import single that caught the attention of Brian Epstein in Liverpool who would eventually manage the young quartet. Melia sang the mellow intro before Roag punched up the tempo with Cavanagh taking over the vocals.

     A major performance highlight was the 1961 Harrison-Lennon instrumental, "Cry For A Shadow" (which missed out being titled "Beatle Bop"). The band cranked on this cool oddity, which featured a spirited rhythm section and the alternating guitar styles of Hay and Melia. Cavanagh sang the Harrison-fave "Roll Over Beethoven" with gusto, which motivated the Fun Box crowd to begin dancing again.

     "Some Other Guy" was a popular Liverpool tune that The Beatles stamped with their own style. The guitar-driven focus of the Pete Best Band really did this song justice. Pete reprised his drumming on Lennon's "Hello Little Girl", which was recorded at the 1962 Decca audition. Their swift-pop arrangement showcased Melia on lead vocals.

     Parry's melodic bass playing lifted another early Lennon-McCartney demo from January 1962, "Like Dreamers Do". Pete took the lead on drums for this lost Beatles classic. Audience excitement erupted as the group crashed into "I Saw Her Standing There". Beatlemaniacs were dizzy, dancing away as Hay contributed a choice lead guitar solo.

     Cavanagh's intense vocals on the "Kansas City" medley sparked participation by the crowd, echoing the call-out chorus. The Pete Best Band took a bow together and remained on stage for their encore. Dedicated to Debbie from Iceland Air, the lads jammed on a fierce version of "Johnny B. Goode". After band member introductions were conducted, the dueling drumbeat climaxed in a crescendo with appreciative audience applause.

     During August of 1960, Pete Best was hastily drafted to join The Beatles as their drummer to complete the quintet on their first journey to Hamburg, Germany. The Beatles - John, Paul, George, Pete & Stu - were booked to play hours-on-end in the seaport red light district before drunken German fans and rowdy British servicemen.

     Pete was there at Hamburg, at the Cavern Club, at the Decca Audition, on the BBC broadcasts, and on the Parlophone studio demos. His two year tenure with The Beatles stabilized the band and gave them a necessary rhythm foundation to propel their emerging material, which would eventually commandeer practically all of the commercial radio airwaves throughout the Free World in 1964.

     The Best brothers released a fascinating book last year, The Beatles: The True Beginnings. The Best family is preparing to open their childhood Liverpool home, which housed the Casbah Coffee Club in the basement where The Quarrymen debuted in 1959. This new Beatles tourist attraction is going to host a recording a studio, welcoming musicians to record at this historic venue.

     Following the band's stellar romp through a classic Beatles setlist circa 1961, Pete Best returned to meet and greet his throng of fans by posing for photographs and signing autographs on all kinds of diverse Beatles memorabilia and albums. Pete clearly enjoyed himself behind the skins on stage and the positive reaction his band generated from the audience.

Baltimore setlist: Slow Down * What I'd Say * One After 909 * Please Mister Postman * P.S. I Love You * My Bonnie * Cry For A Shadow * September In The Rain * Roll Over Beethoven * Some Other Guy * Sweet Georgia Brown * Hello Little Girl * Like Dreamers Do * Till There Was You * I Saw Her Standing There * Twist And Shout * Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey * Encore: Johnny B. Goode

Pete Best website

RockonTour   Issue #35
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The Mersey Beat Experience
The Pete Best Band recreates embryonic Beatles magic in performance

by Timothy Tilghman