Beatles Letter About Firing Pete Best Goes to Auction
The document is signed by the Fab Four’s manager, Brian Epstein, dated Sept. 8, 1962, and bears the letterhead of Epstein’s NEMS company. The typed letter is addressed to the late Joe Flannery, who was a close friend of Epstein’s and acted as the Beatles’ booking manager as they rose to fame. Flannery was also manager of Lee Curtis and the All Stars, another Liverpool beat group that, at one point, looked likely to make it big.
“Dear Joe, I read from the Mersey Beat Pete Best has now joined the All Stars,” Epstein wrote, “and I though [sic] I’d let you know that I have sent today to him a certification of release from his obligations under contract to myself. I would like to add, incidentally, our sincere wishes for Pete’s and the group’s continued success. Yours sincerely, Brian Epstein.”
Best was a member of the Beatles for two years by the time the band signed a recording contract. However, producer George Martin was unhappy with the drummer’s studio performance, leading to the decision to fire him. Best left the music industry and refused to discuss his experiences for years, before returning with his own band and beginning to share his memories in the ‘80s. He was paid between $1 million and $5 million as a result of his early work appearing on the Beatles’ Anthology 1 in 1995.
“To this day, hand on heart, I don’t know the actual reason why,” Best said of his firing in 2018. “There are plenty of people out there today who are more concerned with why or how I left the Beatles than I am. It happened nearly 60 years ago. … I’m not reflecting back on it all the time – I’ve got my own band and I do performances around the world. I’m a busy guy, and I love it.”
Among the 255 other lots offered in the Omega Auctions sale are early promotional postcards featuring Best as a member of the Beatles (expected to sell for up to $90), a misprinted Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band picture disc that features Buddy Holly’s image (up to $750), a demo disc of “A Hard Day’s Night” (up to $1,30) and a postcard signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (more than $5,000). Bids are now being taken; the auction closes on Oct. 28.