124: Finding The Fourth Beatle with David Bedford

October 22, 2017

Podcast, Podcasting

 
You may already know the author of Liddypool  and The Fab 104 for his meticulous research in already well-trod grounds. But with his latest work, David Bedford reveals new revelations – some of them shocking. In Finding The Fourth Beatle, David brings a fresh interpretation and critical new analysis to Beatles scholarship, going where the evidence leads him regarding the truth behind Pete Best’s parting ways with the group, as well as the process of recruitment that (eventually) led to Ringo. There is also new light shed on the 18 (!) Beatle drummers, the Decca audition, Brian’s unsigned managerial contract and those who might have been Beatles – but weren’t.
David is also working on an accompanying documentary and a companion CD release. Find out more at  https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/finding-the-fourth-beatle

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    36 Responses to “124: Finding The Fourth Beatle with David Bedford”

    1. riddell Thomas Says:

      It was always to black and white about the beatles drummer situation. I personally think this is more of a rounded picture of the beatles drummer story.

      Reply

    2. Cajun Queen Says:

      It’s super-annoying that McCart can’t be gotten on the record about this. i.e. In a perfect world, a load of excellent research wouldn’t be necessary at all: we would just ask him what the heck happened, all those years ago.

      Reply

      • Us Says:

        Does anyone think that any response we’d get from him now would be of any value?

        Reply

        • Cajun Queen Says:

          I dunno. I feel he certainly does know, in the same way we that we all remember key events from our lives, even if many decades old (like me!) But you’re saying that he won’t say, or would mislead, or would colour the story to present a “truth” the way he wanted it presented. Or, just naturally reluctant like all of us humans, to present a picture that might not paint us in the best light. Yeah, perhaps.

          lol, but I wish *someone* would ask him what those strange sounds are at the beginning of Revolution I. (White alb version) A washboard, perhaps?

          In the same way: there’s always lots of Internet discussion whether that is actually a metronome on Blackbird. It seems to me: Just ask him! 🙂

          Reply

    3. Clay Banes Says:

      What’s the track at the end? (The end’s end.)

      Reply

    4. Paul T Says:

      History is more or less bunk?? Well, Beatles history is constantly being re-written, once again by the excellent David – great show, – just when you think that All These Years left pretty much no stone unturned? Thx Robert as ever – keep ’em comin’.

      Reply

      • David Bedford Says:

        Thanks Paul, appreciate the comments. Love sharing what I discover with fellow fans.

        Reply

        • Paul Clinton Says:

          I have known David for awhile now he simply the best Liverpool Beatles connection period. I too am waiting for the book. Hoping that Pete is ok with all of the attention this will bring. Looking forward to the real story told well.

          Reply

    5. David M Says:

      Maybe a bit of over analysis here. Pete was not a great drummer and they didn’t like him very much. So he went.

      Reply

      • Dan Says:

        This.

        Listening to this interview, two things seem clear to me.

        The first is that Bedford, despite all the claimed research, is not historian – he’s a guy with some hunches and tries very hard to support those hunches with bits and pieces of inconclusive evidence. The June 6, 1962 EMI session is a good example in that it’s a mystery that will likely never be solved due to conflicting testimony and evidence, but that doesn’t stop Bedford from making a conclusion based on a gut feeling he has. Likewise his suppositions about the Decca audition and how Decca had no intention of signing them – there’s just no evidence to support that. Yes, he’s entitled to an opinion, but that turns this work into something other than non-fiction.

        The second is his completely ridiculous thesis about Pete’s firing and the other Beatles’ – as well as Epstein’s – fear that Pete would get an attorney to protest it. Bedford’s mistake here is looking at a 1962 event involving a young and unsuccessful local band through a 2017 Beatles Inc. lens. Simply put, thousands of people were and are kicked out of bands every year and very few – now, but especially then – take legal action. The idea that a 20 year old drummer in Liverpool in 1962 – a tough city – would, upon being kicked out of his band, take legal counsel beggars belief. What Bedford might have done to support this thesis is examine all of the other similar cases in Liverpool at the time and present evidence that this 1) had happened and 2) bore any fruit for the litigants. Pete Best getting kicked out of the Beatles is just a drummer who got kicked out of a band. Lewisohn, based on numerous interviews with people who were there at time, has closed the door on this.

        In a post-Lewisohn “Tune-In” world, this kind of hobbyist history is almost a complete waste of time. And when take the hyperbole about the book in it’s PR material into account, along with the books extremely hefty price tag, I can’t imagine there’s anything to recommend. Enough ripping off of the fans already.

        Reply

        • James Says:

          Dan,

          You seem to think that historians deal exclusively with hard facts. A large part of historian’s work is to make the inconclusive and the partial take on a conclusive appearance—at least provisionally—to draw inferences. Do you really think history is a science free of supposition and speculation? Historians connect the dots, they are not pointillists in possession of every atom. You say of Bedford, “he’s a guy with some hunches and tries very hard to support those hunches with bits and pieces of inconclusive evidence.” This sound quite close to what a writer of history or biography does. Do you not see that?

          Although it would have been nice to have someone on the program such as Lewisohn to push back or debate Bedford’s musings, Bedford is candid about areas in which evidence is thus far lacking (many historians, since you want to hold him to that standard, are not).

          Without swallowing Bedford’s thesis whole, I think his speculation is informed and with regard to the Decca audition, for example, it makes good sense. You say that Bedford’s thesis about Pete’s firing is “completely ridiculous” but it seems that you don’t grasp it. Bedford doesn’t say that anyone actually thought that Pete would get an attorney, only that, as Pete was indeed under contact—does a contract qualify as evidence for you?—, that Epstein et al proceeded with due legal caution. This seems to me very far from “completely ridiculous.”

          As for your dismissal of “hobbyist history,” I wonder what counts for you as “professional” history. Does Mark Lewisohn, since you mention him, even consider himself a professional historian?

          Finally, it seems to me, the job of a historian is not to “close the door”—to use your metaphor—on debate, but to promote further inquiry. So, Dan, maybe you’d like to have at it.

          Reply

      • David Bedford Says:

        Hi Dan,
        Thanks for your comments on the interview. I am actually an historian because I follow the evidence, wherever it goes, and not always to places I expect. What I have said is backed up with supporting evidence, not supposition. Let me take each point:
        1) June EMI session. We have a lot of evidence based on numerous interviews over the years, so I am not sure which aspect of this session you are contesting. Can you elaborate for me and I will happily answer you.
        2) Decca signing The Beatles. I say this as an opinion, but not blindly. Considering all the evidence and interviews over the years, it is a supposition. I don’t say it is more than that.
        3) Ridiculous thesis on Pete’s firing. It isn’t a thesis or wild speculation, but based on the evidence we have always had, plus the crucial interview with Brian Epstein’s lawyer who gave Brian the advice on how to get rid of Pete Best, and how to do it. The conclusions are based on Brian’s lawyer telling me how it was done, so there is no theory in this. Unless you can come up with an eyewitness who can provide evidence that can contradict what Brian’s lawyer has told me happened, and all the legal implications, then I will listen to you. You can disagree with me if you like, call me any names you like, and argue with me. But you have to argue with evidence to contradict the evidence in front of us. In a post-Lewisohn Beatle world nothing can be ruled out. I have the utmost respect for Mark and we have known each other for years. Also, if you examine Tune In, a lot of this evidence can be found there too as he interviewed the same lawyer, but I was able to ask a couple of questions that took that a little further.
        4) Yes, band members get fired all the time, and I put this to the lawyer who gave me the advice that he gave Brian too. John, Paul, George and Pete signed a Partnership agreement in December 1961 (this is disclosed for the first time) and so they were a legal partnership. They were the first band to do this. This means that as Brian was employed by The Beatles he couldn’t fire Pete – he had no authority. And secondly, in the eyes of the law, John Paul and George couldn’t fire Pete. Now most of the time, nothing more happens, but look at some of the high-profile band break-ups where they start arguing about who can use the band name etc. It happens. To quote your comments “The idea that a 20 year old drummer in Liverpool in 1962 – a tough city – would, upon being kicked out of his band, take legal counsel beggars belief.” Pete did take legal advice and Brian’s lawyer showed me the correspondence. Unfortunately, Pete got bad advice and sued Brian, which was easy for Brian’s lawyer to keep refuting. But don’t take my word for it – that is also in Tune In.

        I follow evidence, so if you can provide some evidence that contradicts me I will happily consider what I’ve written. However, I have tested this with numerous people who agree with the conclusions, but I am open-minded.

        Finally, what I have concluded is not that John Paul and George didn’t want Pete out of the group, but just how they had to do it in the limited time available to them, and did it the wrong way. They were always going to get rid of him.

        Although you might see me as a hobbyist, I have been researching and writing about The Beatles for 17 years now, and Mark Lewisohn loves my previous books, as I love his books too. He sets the benchmark for any Beatles historian. I will leave it to others to tell you what they think of my other books and research.

        As for the new book, there is a lot of new information in there, and stories that haven’t been told before that I have uncovered. The price is high for the limited edition deluxe hardback, but a lower price regular book will follow in the future. I would never rip anyone off, as I am a fan too who buys lots of books.

        Reply

        • Cajun Queen Says:

          hey David Bedford,
          I *totally* enjoyed this edition of SATB; thanks very much for doing it with Robert, that was just great.

          Reply

      • David Bedford Says:

        Hi David M,
        Thanks for your comments. What do you base your opinion on? Did you see Pete with The Beatles? I didn’t as I’m too young, so I have interviewed numerous people over the years for their opinions.

        Mine is based on the evidence of drummers and other musicians in Liverpool at the time, plus analysis of his drumming in Hamburg and at Decca. I do not deny that “Love Me Do” in June 62 is terrible, and if that was the only evidence available I would agree with you. It is that performance that led to him being replaced.

        What other evidence can you add? Happy to listen to you.

        David Bedford

        Reply

        • David M Says:

          Hi David, I did not see Pete Best with The Beatles (or any other drummer). I did live in your fair city for 4 years and met people who had and actually said he was better than Ringo, possibly relatives? I have only really listened to the Tony Sheridan record, and he sounds pretty average to my untrained years. I don’t doubt your meticulous research and your book sounds interesting, however I found that on the show a mountain was being made of a sizable molehill regarding the ending of his time with them. That was the reason for my flippant, not researched comment.

          Reply

    6. Thorsten Says:

      It is a repeated rumour that the records were brought in from the sailors… The records were all availiable in the UK (Check Tune In).

      I like the theory about “too many different styles in the Decca audition” – funny this was the way Brian wanted to present thme.

      Reply

      • David Bedford Says:

        Hi Thorsten,
        Records were brought in by the sailors, as I have spoken to many Merseybeat musicians who had family or friends at sea who brought them the records. They also heard them from the American servicemen at Burtonwood. In an interview, John Lennon talked about the sailors bringing the records back from New York.

        However, I agree that all of these records became available in the UK. The advantage the Liverpool bands had was that they got the American records before the UK versions were released over here.

        So although the Cunard Yanks story is true, some people have tried to exaggerate the influence. I examine this in greater detail in “The Fab ne Hundred and Four”.

        Re: Decca. Yes it was a mistake, but Brian was a complete novice and got it wrong. However, it thankfully meant that they never recorded with Decca, and so got to work with George Martin.

        David

        Reply

    7. Joseph Dwyer Says:

      That an interesting observation about Ringo never playing the same fill twice. He explains a little in this Plastic Ono Band doco (at around 46mins in): https://ok.ru/video/3122792625

      Reply

    8. Tony DiMeo Says:

      I think it was three years ago or so that I really started paying attention during Beatles’s songs to the drumming and what I noticed is Ringo plays to the same Rhythm as the guitarist the singer etc. He is like a human metronome. He may have been the first drummer like that and inspired many:)

      Reply

      • David Bedford Says:

        Tony DiMeo
        Exactly the same as me. I had never listened so closely to Ringo before, but he was, for me and for drummers, a pioneer in what he was doing. His intuitive way of playing was contrary to what was happening at the time.

        David

        Reply

    9. Barry Womb Says:

      Interesting how your guest grew up where Ringo lived as a kid. There are spots where his voice sounds like 1964 Ringo.

      What the guest says about drummers and Ringo changing parts throughout the song, Paul also does that on bass and in his songwriting. Suddenly, there’s an extra bar there that wasn’t there the first time through. Really weird and highly effective.

      Okay, you need to do a show on how… WHAT ARE THE CHANCES that these 4 guys just HAPPENED to come together and do what they did? It’s some kind of cosmic event. How many 20-23 year olds had that kind of talent… EVER??? Did these guys make some kind of animal sacrifice or something? All the sudden, they’re just these killer players and singers and can do NO WRONG and have this place in history. Mind boggling.

      SUCH a weird collision of events for this all to happen.
      Almost makes you wonder if those Conspiracy Theory/Government Engineered Master Plan suppositions aren’t true.
      (I’m totally joking, but how freaking amazing is it???)
      It’s like that bit in the National Lampoon mag from the 70s where the mad doctor created these guys in a lab.

      I DID miss that there wasn’t a “What if Pete Best played ‘The Immigrant Song’?” segment with the host’s interpretation…

      Reply

    10. Barry Womb Says:

      AH WAIT!!!! you added Come Together at the end! Ha! Nice.

      Reply

    11. Pablo Ramon Says:

      I always enjoy listening to David Bedford talk about the Beatles – his love for the subject shines through and piques my interest in the books. I don’t see how the theory posited here about the “sacking” of Pete is mutually exclusive to Lewisohn’s account. Lewisohn, if I recall correctly, paints a similar picture, with the group legally disbanding and then reforming without Pete minutes later.

      Anyway, a great listen…

      Reply

    12. Matt Demakos Says:

      Great show. But I wish the author and Robert contrasted these ideas with what Lewisohn said in Tune In. It would have made it much clearer for me and more interesting.

      I’m not sure my views have changed much from what I read in Tune In. When authors stress that they use facts and evidence, I get a little suspect. I heard, and the author admits this above, spin on those facts. For me, just present your case and don’t stress you are using facts and evidence any more than any other is doing.

      Also, this show is on record as pointing out how bad a drummer Pete was. (One of the meanest shows ever.) I’m a bit surprised that Robert did not challenge the guest a bit. Robert seemed to be playing too nice. Perhaps he does agree with all these points. It seems to me that this author has a strong point of view and could take some challenges pretty well.

      By the way, a few of the shows lately have been gushing about the Beatles’ greatness, how good they are, how smart they are, etc. I hope this doesn’t continue. We are the choir here. It just bores me when guests gush about them. No substance.

      Still the best show. But I want a new host. I actually like the shows without guests better. Maybe Robert can just go solo. Just talk, Robert. See what happens. Could be fascinating.

      Matt

      Reply

      • Us Says:

        There will be some rotating hosts in the other chair coming soon, Matt. I never wanted to do the show on my own – that would turn it into something akin to reading my books aloud. But in the response to your observation regarding David’s points, there was nothing I strongly disagreed with. I reserve further judgment until I read the book, but I found his logic solid; RE the opinion of Pete’s drumming, see my other comments on this page.

        Reply

    13. BEAThoven Says:

      RE: Pete Best / “Love Me Do” / June 1962

      Pete’s drumming has been lambasted ad naseum regarding this take of the track, but I have a hard time believing that Pete “wrote” that change of rhythm for the bridge part. It’s clunky and awkward and Pete plays it without too much finesse, but I’d bet this switch was on the direction of John and/or Paul.

      I find it interesting that this whole change of rhythm during the bridge was ultimately dropped, and both Ringo and Andy White tried nothing clever or inventive to replace it… they just played it straight. Ultimately, there ended up being no rhythmic change throughout the whole song.

      Another interesting point is how many takes it took to get a usable take of this track during the 9/4/62 session — somewhere between 15 and 20, correct? And, then the take marked “best” was was still shaky… I’d wager that the reason for the number of takes is that the band still initially tried running down the track with rhythmic change during the bridge, but then ultimately scrapped it midway during the takes when Ringo and the band couldn’t pull it off.

      Considering what went on with Ringo and the band during that 9/4/62 session, I’d say George Martin was still of the mind — “Right, then, this band STILL needs a session drummer” — and booked Andy White.

      Of course, I’m throwing around a lot of conjecture here and I could be accused of talking out my ace (We BeatlesGeeks love doing that! 😉 ), but Pete’s playing on this track and then George Martin’s “rearranging” of the timeline has always opened a lot of questions.

      Anyway, your podcast is exceptional — I love that it’s so analytical and historically based rather than being “fanboy”- or agenda-driven.

      Reply

      • BEAThoven Says:

        Correction: This line is wrong: “Another interesting point is how many takes it took to get a usable take of this track during the 9/4/62 session — somewhere between 15 and 20, correct?”

        It should read: “Another interesting point is how many takes it took to get a usable take of this track during the 9/11/62 session — somewhere between 15 and 20, correct?” I was referring to Ringo’s playing here.

        Reply

    14. Mark Astaire Says:

      What Brian may or may not have said at the meeting is a legal nicety. The other three wanted him out and asked Brian to do it. John admits it was a cowardly thing to do but in the end they were not close to him. David’s thesis is interesting and stimulating and adds to the debate.

      What interests me is that David stands up for Pete as a drummer. Robert on many shows has been vituperative about Pete despite the fact that they were the “best” live band in the North of England.

      Reply

      • Us Says:

        My criticism of Pete is as a studio drummer. No contest: he may have had some energy, but he lacked completely in imagination, which I said in the show. But having now spoken directly to a few people who described what the experience was like in a live situation, I have to concur that whatever he did with the Atom Beat – hard, loud and pounding – clearly worked for them. It’s a matter of record that he had a solid fan base and that the Beatles, though they did hit a plateau, grew to become one of the top bands in Liverpool during his tenure.

        I think that David did a great job of articulating the big picture: that the Pete Best Beatles was a wholly different animal from the Ringo/Recording Beatles. They were evolving, and their signing with EMI coincided with the Brian era of playing different sets in theaters, rather then clubs and dance halls, as well as the original material creeping in. They didn’t change their approach because Pete left – it was a number of factors, including their own evolution.

        Reply

      • Us Says:

        As I noted in a reply to another comment here, until, recently I only had descriptions in books to go on for how good Pete was as a drummer during their club days. The extant studio recordings speak for themselves in terms of the sameness – what he had in energy and punch, he certainly lacked in the more nuanced skills like swing and inspiration. But I am now willing to concede that he was clearly a powerhouse behind the kit in live sets – what is monotonous in the studio worked very well in a club setting. David has provided a more nuanced interpretation, also figuring in the booming power of Paul’s bass in making the Beatles such a singular attraction.

        Ultimately, it was a dead end though, and because they evolved and recruited someone with exactly the skills to compliment their new direction, they were able to grow and thrive.

        Reply

    15. RD Says:

      Hi David, I enjoy your books and the books that Pledge music does. I have no problem paying a little more for these books because of the nature and limited printings. However I went to order the volume for $90 and the shipping was $52, and that is just over the top. There has to be a better solution. I cannot justify paying more than half price of the book in shipping, even if it is coming from overseas.

      Reply

    16. quintellect Says:

      Extraordinary show although I’m still – STILL – not sold on Pete as a “powerhouse” live.

      Anyway – what’s happened to Richard? Did I miss an announcement?

      Reply

      • Us Says:

        I don’t think “powerhouse” is meant in the same sense as a John Bonham or even a Johnny Hutch – in this case, a loud pounding beat, alongside Paul’s coffin cabinet bass speaker, made for a defining sound of the club-era Beatles that left an impression on everyone. I’ve now talked to enough actual witnesses to see where this is a common consensus. This not translate into more skilled beyond the aesthetic limitations we are all familiar with, however.

        Richard left the show in September.

        Reply

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