Wirral Chamber of Commerce joined forces with YMCA Wirral to bring back memories from more than 50 years after first performing with John, Paul and George, when The Beatles' original drummer Pete Best returned to YMCA headquarters to officially name its community radio station.
On September 8 1962, the band played to a packed crowd at the Birkenhead YMCA in Whetstone Lane. Just a few weeks later at Abbey Road recorded their first hit Love Me Do. Peter returned to the venue on Wednesday for the official naming of the studio, which has been renamed The Pete Best Community Broadcasting Studio.
He also took time during the visit to present an award to teenager Aaron Bretland from Ridgeway School, who won a bronze medal in Tae Kwondo at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland earlier this year. The 15-year-old has been sponsored by YMCA, and has also benefited from tireless fundraising of his grandmother Dot, who raised funds for his training and sporting success by selling cakes, organised bag packs, and many other areas of support all dedicated to ensuring Aaron had every chance to progress. Dot was also presented with a special certificate by the YMCA Wirral recognising her achievements.
On returning the YMCA, Pete Best said, “It has changed a lot, certainly compared to the days when The Beatles used to strut our stuff on the stage. The stage is no longer there, but it’s a nice feeling to come back in a completely different context. John, Paul, George and myself used to sneak in through the back way, in our leather jackets, jump up and stage and do what we did best, which was rock n’roll, so after 50 years to the day it’s nice to come back.”
YMCA’s chief executive, Nigel Hughes said: “It’s probably one of the most significant visits that we’ve had in a long time and I don’t devalue any of our other other visits. Everyone speaks with real affection about Pete - the man who put the beat into The Beatles. I think it’s a great credit to people like Pete, that he has come along not only for reminisces after 50 years but he is keenly supporting a young athlete of today from Wirral."
Pete added, “People have got to remember we need sporting champions, we want sporting champions. We must do all we can to support them.”
In 1960 the Silver Beatles played without a permanent drummer. Finally, when their manager Allan Williams secured a tour of Hamburg, it was decided that the drummer situation had to be solved. The solution was Pete Best. The band knew him from a club they had often played and now frequented, The Casbah - where Pete's own group (The Blackjacks) were resident.
Paul McCartney phoned Pete in August 1960 asking if he was interested in joining the band. Pete discussed the situation with his fellow Blackjacks who happily agreed that Pete should take up his place with The Beatles. Pete formally auditioned, became a Beatle on August 12 1960 and left for Germany with John, Paul, George and Stuart Sutcliffe. The rest is musical and world changing history.
Unfortunately, in circumstances still clouded in mystery, Pete was dismissed from the group, when Ringo Starr was invited to take the drum stool position. Whilst Pete missed out on the acclaim which then followed his former band mates, over the years he has continued to play music with The Pate Best Band, and still travels the world playing rock music and enjoys recognition and world fame as one of the original Beatles.
Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO, Paula Basnett, said, “We were thrilled to support YMCA Wirral in bringing a musical legend back to his roots, and also to add our own congratulations to Aaron and Dot for their determination to succeed. We are very proud of all three of them, each for the way they have chosen to follow their own particular ambitions, and for how their success has been something that Wirral can share in.”
Before he left the YMCA Wirral, Pete Best left a special Christmas message for all the members of Wirral Chamber of Commerce which can be seen here