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18th March, 2020

Something About Mona

Today marks 58 years since The Beatles’ 32nd performance at the Casbah Coffee Club on 18th March, 1962. Mona Best was the owner of the famous Casbah Coffee Club and her story is one that arguably shaped the history of The Beatles and their path to success. As the mother of Pete Best, The Beatles’ original drummer, we delve more into her story and look at the impact she had on shaping the band in the early days before their rise to stardom.

Many believe that The Cavern Club was where it all began, but to quote Sir Paul McCartney:

"I think it's a good idea to let people know about The Casbah. They know about The Cavern, they know about some of those things, but The Casbah was the place where all that started. We helped paint it and stuff. We looked upon it as our personal club." 

Known as ‘Mo’ by those around her, she opened the club in her 15-bedroomed house in the West Derby area of Liverpool in 1959, intending it to be a social space for her two sons Pete and Rory and their friends.

The annual membership fee was ‘half a crown’ to be transported into the new rock and roll club found in the cellar of Mona’s household.

She had booked The Quarrymen to perform on its opening night, but that wasn’t before a young John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison had first helped her finish painting the cellar walls with spiders, rainbows, dragons and stars. After a successful first night The Quarrymen became regulars at The Casbah and queues of fans, eager to visit the new popular music venue, continued to get bigger after every performance.

 

Born in India in 1924, Mona would often talk about her upbringing and share stories about her experiences living there. These stories particularly inspired the young George Harrison which later led to The Beatles’ interest in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teachings about Transcendental Meditation.

Mona’s son Pete Best was performing in his own band at the time and was invited by McCartney to join ‘The Silver Beatles’ in 1960, a day before they embarked on their German adventure to Hamburg. He accepted and Pete’s good friend, Neil Aspinall, was asked to be their part-time road manager. The line up now included John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe. 

On returning from Germany, and with a further name change to ‘The Beatles’, the band were now as popular as ever with a doting fanbase and unique style. Mona believed in The Beatles and often spent time calling up venues to get them booked. Arguably the most notable booking was for The Cavern Club where the lads would eventually meet their manager, Brian Epstein.  Epstein stated in his autobiography:

“I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humour on stage—and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started.”

The club eventually closed on June 24, 1962 after The Beatles’ 37th and final performance. This decision was made after the sad death of Mona Best’s mother Mary, who had been suffering from cancer. Mona was also at the time eight months pregnant with Roag Best, her son with The Beatles’ roadie Neil Aspinall.

The Casbah Coffee Club still exists today as an authentic part of The Beatles’ history and it is without doubt that Mona Best was a key part in the success story of the world’s greatest band. Even with Pete Best’s exit from the band, John, Paul and George held a huge respect for Mona and kept in touch with her throughout the years.

The story, in terms of remembering the early beginnings of The Beatles, including The Quarrymen and The Casbah Coffee Club, is brought to life within The Beatles Story exhibition and Mona’s legacy will continue to inspire the many visitors to the award-winning attraction.

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