In an interesting twist, Pete Best's niece Leanne, who is brother Roag's daughter, will take over the role as Astrid Kirchherr in the production of “Backbeat the Play” opening in Los Angeles Jan. 20 at the Ahmanson Theatre.
“If you know Leanne, she's a very talented actress,” he said with pride. “She's grown up with the story. It's been around her. It just so happened when she went for it, either the producer or the director started to explain in great detail about the character. She then took it upon herself to tell him, 'Before you go any further, let me draw your attention to this.' And she made mention of the fact 'Pete's my uncle. And Roag's my dad.' And it was very much a case of 'Say no more.'
“Great credit to her,” he said. “I'm certain she's going to do a fantastic job. And I wish her all the luck in the world for it. And who knows? That first performance, we may be in the front row. You never know.
“It's like an incredible thing. It's karma somewhere along the line after all these years. A member of the Best family who's gone into acting is picked for the lead role in 'Backbeat.' Something must be working in our karma somewhere along the line, at least I hope so.”
Best said he was honored when Liverpool named a street after him. “Very flattered and very humbled,” he said. “I knew they'd been working on it. And when I finally got the recognition and they notified me and they told me what it was going to be called, Pete Best Drive, (I was) very flattered and humbled. I thank the people of Liverpool and thank the people who wanted it to happen for me from all over the world. My humble thanks to everyone involved with it. It was a wonderful honor.
“But the beauty of it, as well, was that on the same estate as Pete Best Drive they also honored my mother Mona as well. On that particular estate, they'd also given a road the name of Casbah Close,” named after the Casbah Coffee Club opened by his mom and still run by the Best family. The family is over the moon about it,” he said.
The BBC recently re-ran a special program about The Casbah narrated by Pete Best. “It was great, it was heartwarming. The family was involved. The response was great from the public. If it hadn't been for the Casbah, as we've said for many many years, and we will continue to say so, maybe none of this would have happened.”
Plans for Bestfest 5, a day of music featuring Best at the Casbah Club, are already underway, he said.
“It's already lined up. August bank holiday Saturday (Aug. 24). This particular year, I've got my own band on there again, and with the guests. I've also got the Blackjacks on, my old original band, and we're also bringing in the Quarrymen. So this particular year's these is 'Bands That Started and Finished at the Casbah.' It's history being portrayed again.” Tickets are now on sale for the event through his website.
(More in part 3, coming soon, including Pete's memories of Stu Sutcliffe)
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