I met him once. I with spoke him and his brother Roag in the summer of 2010 at a convention in New Jersey. I told them both about “Unbelievable!”,
a feature length film I was working on detailing the influence of The Beatles on Michael Jackson and his career. At that point I had been researching for a year and had already learned a great deal about Pete and the Best family’s involvement with the Beatles. I hadn’t yet made the decision to do “The Beatles at their Best”,
but I had developed a new respect for Pete and the significant role he and his family played in the Beatles rise to become an entertainment phenomenon. I was excited to meet him.
When I entered the convention floor that day, one of the first people I recognized was promoter Sid Bernstein. He is famous for promoting The Beatles NYC Shea stadium concert. He was at his booth posing for photos with fans and autographing copies of his book. I didn’t see Pete until I walked across to the other side room. He was at a table with an assistant sitting to his left. His brother Roag got up and left just as I was approaching. There were no fans there, so I thought this would be a great time to try and speak with him. I approached him and broke the ice by saying hello and then asked him “have you ever seen the Klaus Voormann painting with you & Stu that looks similar to the Beatles “Revolver”
cover”? He said he “yeah” and it was obvious he liked it. He looked up at me and flashed a big smile. But then his mood changed very quickly. He didn’t want to talk at all. I wasn’t sure what happened. I bought a Haymans Green cd, a Pete Best Casbah t-shirt and an photo for autographing. I asked him if he could sign it to my wife Lourdes. He didn’t respond. He just signed his name and handed to me. I was pretty sure he heard my request, but then I thought, “he is 70 years old, maybe he didn’t hear me”.
Sid Bernstein then came slowly walking by leaning heavily on a cane. I asked him if he would be kind enough to pose for a photo with me. He said sure. I then asked Pete if he would be nice enough to pose with me and Mr. Bernstein. He said sure. He got up slowly from the table and came over to join us. Pete was very friendly with Sid. He smiled brightly, shaking his hand and patting him on the back. When it was time for the photo, Pete put his other hand in his pocket and kind of turned his back to me. I remember thinking it was strange he agreed to pose for a photo for me but then kinda froze me out of it at the same time.
I got on bit better with Roag. We spoke about 20 feet from Pete's table when he returned. He was very friendly and happy to chat. We talked a bit about Michael Jackson, SgtPepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
, the Beatles Anthology
project and the film I was working on. When discussing Anthology, Roag mentioned that his father Neil Aspinall had told him that outside of doing the interviews, the only real request Ringo Starr had for the project was to fade Pete out of the famous 1960 Astrid Kirchherr fairground photo and to then have himself photoshopped in. I was surprised to hear that. I had NEVER heard that one before (or since). I followed up with Roag afterward at the email address he provided, and again before the recent showings of “The Beatles at their Best”
to let him know about it, but I have yet to hear back. I enjoyed meeting him.
I was a little hurt that I didn’t seem to have any chemistry with Pete. Still, it was a real thrill to meet him. I am also very grateful to Pete and Sid for taking the time to pose for the photo with me.
I saw Sid again later that year. My wife and I were in New York's Central Park on what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. We visited the Strawberry Fields section where the "Imagine" memorial is. The place was JAM PACKED with fans of Lennon. It was quite an experience. We then took a walk through the park and there was a man playing Beatles songs and a lot of Beatles fans on the lawn listening. I took a photo of my wife and very clearly over her shoulder I could see Sid sitting on a bench enjoying the music with the other fans. I purposly framed the photo of my wife to keep Sid in the shot in the background over her shoulder.
I have never met or spoken to Pete or Roag Best again.