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The Man Who Was Fired From The Beatles

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Pete Best was never told why he was fired from the Beatles.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped fans and the media alike from piecing together theories ranging from Best outshining the rest of the band to Ringo Starr simply being a superior drummer. In the 50-odd years since Best was removed on August 16, 1962, he’s shared pieces of the puzzle, captivating a niche group of Beatlemaniacs who can’t help but wonder how things might have been if Best had remained behind the drumset.

The formation of the Beatles—originally known as the Quarrymen—is tightly linked to the coffee shop owned by Best’s mother, Mona. According to AARP, "Mo" was inspired by a report she saw on TV about a coffee house that attracted musical talent, and she decided to open her own shop in the family’s basement.

“She opened up the Casbah Coffee Club the 29th of August, 1959, and the funny thing was the band which opened it, the Quarrymen, went on to become the Beatles,” Best told AARP. Not only were the Quarrymen the first act to perform there, but Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison all helped to paint the walls to get the cellar ready for opening night.

At the time, Best was playing with his own band, the Blackjacks, but in 1960 he was recruited by the Beatles—who were going by the “Silver Beatles” at the time—as their drummer. During his two years in the band, Best auditioned for Decca Records with the Beatles and recorded what would become the band’s breakout hit, “Love Me Do.” (The band recorded a new version with Ringo before releasing it as a single in October 1962.) But in August 1962, the morning after another well-received gig at the famous Cavern Club, manager Brian Epstein called Pete into his office and gave him the bad news.

“I walked into Brian’s office … and he was quite agitated, fidgety,” Best explained in the 2006 documentary Pete Best of the Beatles: The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Story Never Told. "‘Pete,’ he said. ‘I really don’t know how to tell you this, but I will.’ And he said, ‘In short, the boys want you out and it’s already been arranged that Ringo [Starr] will join the band on Saturday.’ And that was the bombshell. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Am I in a dream? Am I in a nightmare? I want to wake up, someone pinch me.” Best, who was just 20 years old at the time, went home and cried.

Astrid Stawiarz // Getty

As Best tells it, the story for the public was spun to imply that he willingly and amicably left the band. “And that didn’t sit right with fans,” he added. “You know they basically turned around and said, 'You wouldn’t leave a band. Why would you leave that band?'"

Best told AARP that he thinks the only person still alive who knows the reason behind him getting fired is Paul McCartney, although the two have never discussed it. In fact, Best told David Letterman in 1982 that once he left Epstein's office, he never spoke to John, Paul or George ever again. Best’s official website reports that following his dismissal from the band, he was approached by two other groups—including Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, which Starr vacated to join the Beatles—but he joined Lee Curtis and The All Stars, who became a rival of the Beatles. Best's new band even opened for the Beatles twice, and yet there was no acknowledgement by his former bandmates that he was there. "Stony silence," as Best recalled.

“There were things to be said, but that wasn't the place to hear your differences, onstage, so there was no communication," Best told Spinner in 2009. "We'd pass like ships in the night. Some people say, 'Well, why the hell didn't you just pick up the phone?' and I've always said, 'Well, have you ever tried to phone a Beatle? It just doesn't happen.' You couldn't get to them."

Best, who went on to front his own quartet when his new band eventually split from Lee Curtis and renamed themselves the Pete Best Four, now approaches his experience with the Beatles with gratitude.

“Some people expect me to be bitter and twisted, but I'm not,” Best told the Daily Mail in 2007. “I feel very fortunate in my life. God knows what strains and stresses the Beatles must have been under. They became a public commodity. And John paid for that with his life.”

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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