The Beatles and How Never Say Die Helped Them
This is a sort of ancestry-dot-com event, except on the iconic Beatles, a band that did change the world from hairstyles, music to clothes.
This hub is about a minor yet important connection the Beatles had in their early years, long before they were famous, but only fueled with dreams of being better than Elvis, their idol. What a lofty goal and an impossible one they thought.
It begins with a horse, Never Say Die, who won the Epsom Derby in 1954. This is England's "Kentucky Derby". Never Say Die was the was the son of two racing horses, one, Nasrullah, was own by a Muslim, Aga Khan III, a leader to 15 million Nizari Muslims. Aga loved many things English, horse racing was one.
In 1954, Lennon was 14, McCartney, 11 yrs. old. Lennon was still not into music, just a banjo his mom gave him. Paul was playing a trumpet, quite horribly. Guitars were of no interest. In just two years, their world was rocked by Elvis Presley. In an instant, they both adopted the Elvis look. Both began singing with his records in front of a mirror. Much like millions would do 10 years later emulating the Beatle look, sound.
The first of the Beatle stars began to align themselves in 1954.Pete Best was the Beatles' first drummer out of necessity- Pete had a drum set and could play okay, but this would be in 1959. In 1954, it was Pete's mom that hawked her gems to place a bet on Never Say Die. Fate was kind, her bet paid off handsomely because the horse won. Mona Best took home enough money to buy a 20 room Victorian mansion in Liverpool. From 1954-59, the Best family lived there and sometime in 1957-8 or so, John, Paul, and George, had formed the core Beatle family. They played rock standards 24\7. All played guitars learning and learning chords, writing a few songs and singing. At some point, Pete Best became part of the band out of necessity and need (what rock band does not have a drummer?). The Beatles were known as Silver Beatles, which was better than their former name, Quarrymen.
In 1959, Mona Best decided to start a small coffee club. It was called the Casbah and its location was in the basement of the house bought with the winnings provided by Never Say Die. It was place the fed the fledgling Beatle band inspiration of being famous and their first early gigs using tiny amps or no amps and no microphones. They played in the raw. Like many bands then, they did not stand out much. At times, sloppy, off-key but they were good looking and each was well defined by their own personality and music style. Sometimes, the band really rocked but it was inconsistent. At the time, there was no one who could predict their worldwide fame awaiting them only 3-4 years away. Not even them.
Pete played with the band for two years and went with them to Hamburg, Germany, for the rock boot camp gigs in shitholes. It was there the rawness of the Beatles became polished in all facets from music, interacting with crowds, songwriting and instrument mastery. Their Beatle look began there, as another star began to align for them via a woman called Astrid, who got rid of the Elvis hairstyle and created the Beatle hairstyle so present all over the world today. Even Elvis would have his Beatle hairstyle in in 1968.
So, a race horse, as silly as it sounds, played a minor, yet important role in The Beatles formation years. Without Mona Best betting and the horse winning, there would be no Casbah club for a embryonic rock band to practice and perform in front of real patrons, not just friends. They might not have had Pete as a drummer, a critical element for a rock band. With no drummer, they would NEVER have been selected to go to Germany, which played a very critical boot camp for them over a course of two years. Granted, they still may have been a worldwide success because of their talent, which was still very much unrecognized even in 1962.
Pete Best was fired after the band cut demos for EMI in 1962. George Martin, considered the 5th Beatle now, but then, he was another star aligning for their success, did not like Best's drumming. Pete was off beat and Martin told them get a new drummer or no contract. Nobody wanted to tell their friend the bad news. John eventually did. Ringo was offered the job (he was with another band then). For Ringo, it was a raise in pay.
Beatle history is really like an alignment of stars in the heavens. That is what Brian Epstein said in 1965, he was their manager. Small elements, one by one, lined up to serve a purpose for them until fame was theirs.
Never Say Die was just one of them.