John, Paul, George and Pete. It doesn't really have the same ring to it but in 1960 it was Pete Best behind the drum kit for the Beatles and not Ringo Starr. That changed on August 16th, 1962, however, when Pete Best was fired from the Beatles.
According to Beatles-History.net, Best joined the group in 1960 when John, Paul, and George needed a drummer for a gig in Hamburg. They had met Best at the Casbah Coffee Club, owned by Best's mother, the year prior and invited him to come play. After the Hamburg show, the not-quite-fab-four started booking gigs around Liverpool.
Best was reportedly the most popular Beatle at the time and some credit him with the group's initial popularity in Liverpool. But the four members didn't mesh together on a personal level. As an example, Best was the only member that did not adopt the "bowl" cut.
Best was fired from the Beatles in 1962. The following year the group recorded its first album, Please Please Me, and were nearly immediately struck with Beatlemania.
The reason's for Best's firing remains a bit of a mystery. Some claim that the three Beatles didn't like Best personally. Others say that they were just more impressed with Ringo Starr. Best's mother said that the rest of the group was jealous of her son.
In 2009, the fifth Beatle talked to Spinner Magazine about his life with, and without the Beatles. Best said that he still isn't sure why he was kicked out of the group but said that he was pretty sure it didn't have to do with talent.
Best, who was included on 10 songs in the Beatles' Anthology, said:
"Being on Anthology, people had a bigger insight into what my drumming was about. From that point of view, I've always held my head up high and said, "Yes, it wasn't the drumming ability." There have been conspiracy theories -- the hairstyle, jealousy, antisocial, didn't speak enough, Brian [Epstein, the Beatles' manager] may have felt threatened -- it goes on and on. I've long passed that."
"You find that hard to believe, but it is true. I played three of four times on the same bill as them as the support band, so we'd be coming off and they were going onstage. There were things to be said but that wasn't the place to hear your differences, onstage, so there was no communication. 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."
Here is a video of Pete Best on David Letterman.
[Edit: Title incorrectly stated that Best was fired from the Beatles 40-years-ago today. Title has been changed. Author has been ridiculed.]