Over the course of my life, as I have confronted unexpected changes, dilemmas and struggles, I have come to see life’s episodes in two ways. Firstly, there are situations when people come into your life, and you call the shots. Secondly, there are times when others make the decisions and you have to go with it. Pete Best, in 1962, found himself facing the latter.
Pete Best was the drummer for the Fab Four from Liverpool’s first performances in Germany; an original member of the band that changed not just their hometown but the music and culture industry forever. In 1962, however, Pete’s bandmates decided for him that fame and recognition weren’t his future. All of a sudden he fell from fame.
We shook hands, Pete and me, in Lennon’s Bar on Mathew Street while I was in the middle of my 8-hour shift last year. I was born in a small city near São Paulo in Brazil and a thing I could never imagine was to be near any of The Beatles. But it happened, and it wasn’t anything out of this world.
Another time, a time when I was tired from trying to manage a second job to get some extra money for Christmas, I saw him drinking beer among a bunch of ex-hippies who by then were in their 70’s. Pete was the only one looking like a regular local lad, appreciating the blues band’s perfect versions of Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson’s classics.
He came across, asked for something I couldn’t understand, and gave two tenners as tips for the staff. We all split the money and I felt I needed to say thank you. I went out of the bar to find him next to the door. “Thank you very much for the tips,” I said, and he nodded. Emboldened, I tried my luck and asked for a picture: “No!”*.
When I was 18 years old I played drums in a punk rock band in Brazil. We were planning on doing our first recording session, but one day I showed up in the rehearsal place and the lads were waiting for me with some bad news. I was out. No recording sessions. No more cool gigs and public recognition. Not one to compare myself with Pete Best, but our situations weren’t exactly worlds apart.
I decided to move forward, get a degree, and now 15 years later I’m working and living in Liverpool. They never recorded that session. My life completely changed, thanks to their decision. I changed jobs, careers, lovers, addresses. And when my partner said “Let’s move to England with two kids and no job offers whatsoever,” I thought, “Why not?”
But what about Pete? Some other musical projects with non-commercial success, years working hard as a clerk or something similar, some good and bad decisions besides the most important one: he decided to move forward.
How he carried on isn’t the important factor here. The fact is if he managed to go ahead with life, anyone can.
So the next time you feel frustrated about other people’s choices changing your life, remember Pete Best and move forward into your own future.
*By the way, he ended up taking a selfie with me. Thanks, Pete.