51 Years Ago: Ringo Starr Joins the Beatles
Only two days after Pete Best was fired as the drummer of the Beatles, the group performed their first official gig with Ringo Starr. The concert took place at Hulme Hall in Birkenhead – a ferry ‘cross the Mersey away from Liverpool – on Aug. 18, 1962.
Starr, who had been poached from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, was no stranger to the Beatles. He met them back in 1959 and occasionally sat in with them over the years when Best was unable to make it. When discussion about firing Best began, it was George Harrison who lobbied for Ringo. “To me it was apparent,” he said in ‘Anthology.’ “Pete kept being sick and not showing up for gigs so we would get Ringo to sit in with the band instead, and every time Ringo sat in, it seemed like ‘this is it.’ Eventually we realized, ‘We should get Ringo in the band full time.’”
Even though the Beatles had already become the first band from Liverpool to have a recording contract, they were nonetheless in awe of Starr. “We really started to think we needed ‘the greatest drummer in Liverpool,’” Paul McCartney said (also in ‘Anthology’). “And the greatest drummer in our eyes was a guy, Ringo Starr, who had changed his name before any of us, who had a beard and was grown up and was known to have a Zephyr Zodiac.”
Beatles Bible says that, after a two-hour rehearsal, the band performed at a dance sponsored by the local horticultural society. The gig went off without incident, but by the next day, news of Best’s firing had made its way through the city. Their evening slot at the Cavern was marked by protests from Best’s fans — judged to be about half the crowd — who had objected to the decision. Harrison was even attacked in the hallway between the band room and the stage, which gave him a black eye.
But the controversy soon died down. During their lunchtime gig at the Cavern on Aug. 22, the group were filmed by Granada Television performing ‘Some Other Guy’ for their ‘Know the North’ program. The video, which is embedded above, shows no dissent apart from someone shouting “We want Pete” at the song’s end.