Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Be Too Quiet - The Pete Best Story



Something that's occured to me a lot living here is that, whilst there is a lot to be said for modesty and reserve in all things (and am I missing London gob-shitedness?, er no, not one little bit!) it can be eminently possible to go too far the other way, in other words to miss out on what is rightfully yours and let some other, lesser person take it instead. Indeed there are foreign nationals here in Tallinn who have cut out little niches for themselves doing just that, exploiting the local taciturnity and finding a way to be a middling sized fish in a puddle. Can't say I blame them.

But for a real life example of how keeping one's mouth shut can get one, if not into trouble, then away from success, you could do worse than to look at the Beatles' original drummer, Pete Best. As this TV spot shows, some sort of 'what's my job' panel game in the States, he was even prepared to be flown halfway across the globe to speak in monosyllables, and 20 years later it was no better, as this pitiful early (I presume) Letterman interview demonstrates. True to his local roots, Pete looks more like he'd be more at home playing football at Anfield rather than the drums at Shea Stadium.

Now, there is a valid argument held by many that it was in fact Pete's drumming style, or lack of it, which kept him out of the group, and a quick listen to parts of the notorious Decca audition can confirm this, even to someone like myself, who thinks of the drums as a kind of asylum for failed musicians. However, there is such a thing as practice, it was a pop group not a modern jazz quartet, if he'd really wanted to nail it, he could have. No, he just didn't say anything interesting - even Ringo managed to do that.

I don't feel sorry for Pete; he brought it all on himself and no doubt has managed to make a reasonable living on the 'I used to be in the Beatles you know' circuit. But as a salutary lesson in under-fulfilling one's potential I think there are few paralells, in the public eye anyway.

By the way I'm not for a moment saying that Ringo shouldn't have been the drummer for the band, he absolutely should, but ultimately benefitted from someone else's misplaced meekness. They shall not inherit the earth..

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