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18th October, 2017

Interview: Finding the Fourth Beatle

Since the summer of 1962, Beatles fans have debated the topic of why The Beatles sacked Pete Best, and replaced him with Ringo. For Beatles author David Bedford, this has always been a fascinating topic, one of which he examined from every possible angle. We interview respected Beatles author, researcher and “Our Man in Liddypool” David Bedford about his latest book ‘Finding the Fourth Beatle’, a previously untold story of The Beatles’ rise to fame….



Tell us about the new book you are working on. What can fans expect?

"This is the story of The Beatles from 1956-1970, told through the unique perspective of their 18 drummers, including Colin Hanton, Pete Best and Jimmie Nicol, and some you will not have heard of before. It includes The Beatles crises, changes of musical direction, getting a record deal and finding the drummer who would finally put the beat into The Beatles: Ringo Starr, the Fourth Beatle."



So, what attracted you to writing about the drummers associated with The Beatles?

"Most people know about the ‘Fab’ four members of The Beatles, but not so many know about the number of drummers they had over the years. Quite a few can name six, or even seven, but how many people can name all 18? There are crucial turning points within The Beatles’ career which revolve around losing of gaining a drummer, so I wanted to tell the story from that point of view. Ringo was the fourth Beatle, it just took the band a long period of time to find the right one."



You made quite an important revelation about Pete Best whist researching the book, is this correct?

"This was the most important revelation; Pete Pest was not sacked or dismissed by Brian or The Beatles. This goes against what we have always been told but it is true and can be supported by evidence and eye witnesses who were closely involved in the saga. A nice surprise was Ringo didn't replace Pete, as they were two separate decisions. First to get rid of Pete, and secondly to find a replacement who ended up being Ringo. George Martin told Brian that if they made a record, he would use a session drummer. This didn't mean they had to get rid of Pete, because using a session drummer was the industry standard.



"However, John, Paul and George thought this meant Pete Best wasn’t good enough for the band. They then started looking for a new drummer, and didn’t consider Ringo straight away. Ringo was the fourth drummer to be asked. What we can see is that he may have been the fourth to be asked but thankfully, eventually he was the right one."



Did you find out anything else new?

"The book also provides proof of whether The Beatles were under contract or not at Parlophone in June 1962. Brian drew up a contract with The Beatles which he never signed and due to ages of the band, a parent or guardian had to sign it for them. John was already 21 so he could sign the contract but would be tied to Brian legally for the next 5 years.



"Brian didn’t want this and it was not illegal. Brian just couldn’t enforce the contract on the Beatles, but the Beatles could enforce it on Brian. Brian was doing the right thing, allowing them to walk away if they wanted to. That in itself is fascinating."



Why Ringo? What made him different from the other 17 drummers?

"Ringo was naturally left handed but played on a right handed kit. After speaking to other drummers who are left we understand that they play the kit completely different to a right handed drummer which produced a unique sound. What Ringo could do was he would play how he thought it should be played.


"Until this point, it was always John, Paul, George… and a drummer!" – Neil Aspinall


"When they were recording as the Beatles working on a new song, John and Paul would say in my head I’m thinking this kind of feel and Ringo would get that and play the feeling. If they did 30 takes each would be different. He is very much an intuitive player, and you can’t teach that."



How can fans get hold of the book and accompanying double CD?

"The book is being issues as a limited, numbered and signed edition of only 1000 and are already going fast. It comes with a double CD of over 40 tracks by the drummers, plus the Decca audition, Parlophone audition and much more. So you will be able to read what the drummers and Steve have said about the track, listen to them yourself and see if you agree. Eventually, the plan is the make a documentary film, which already has a lot of interest. It’s something every film maker dreams about, finding a totally original Beatles saga, and it’s been hiding in plain sight for all these years."

To pre-order your copy, click here.

Let us know, how many of the 18 Beatles drummers can you name?

Kerri-Anne McMahon

Kerri-Anne is a Marketing Intern at The Beatles Story, a third year Marketing and Tourism student at Liverpool Hope University.

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