“That particular performance we’ve always said was the start of Beatlemania,” Best said.
When Epstein became the band’s manager in late 1961, he changed their look from black leather to suits, and banned all smoking and drinking onstage. “Ditching the leather was, in his view, the next step in making us more acceptable,” Best recalled in The Beatles: The True Beginnings, his 2003 memoir. “Neither John or I was happy about it.”
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During a spring 1962 tour of Hamburg, the band got the news they’d been waiting for: They had a recording contract with EMI. At the EMI Studios on Abbey Road in London that June they recorded four audition numbers, including “Love Me Do.”
But Best would not be around to share in any of the Beatles’ future success, and he was not on the “Love Me Do” version that was released. He was fired that August, without explanation. There was no shortage of theories propounded by fans, other bands and music insiders about why, from his drumming not being good enough to his antisocial attitude and hairstyle.
Best and others’ speculation focused on jealousy. Perhaps Best was getting too much attention from women in the audiences? “One night Paul would get more screams, one night I’d get more screams. That’s show business. That’s rock ’n’ roll,” Best said laughing.
Best said he still doesn’t know the reason. The only person who knows the reason why is McCartney, said Best, but they have never spoken about it.
In the mid-1960s, Best hit a low point, even though things were going well and he was playing with another band. “I got a stupid idea in my head that I was going to commit suicide,” he said. “Don’t ask me why. I’m fortunate that I survived.” He was stopped from inhaling gas from a stove by his mother and younger brother, who persuaded him that he had everything to live for, including a new recording contract and his family, which at that point included a wife and daughter.