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Friday, March 11, 2016

With A Little Help From Friends

Time for a hiatus from documentaries about famous rock n' roll drummers from the 60's. The recent ones I've seen have been mildly depressing. Anyone seen "Beware, Mr Baker?" How about "Ain't In It For My Health?" If you've seen them, please tell me - Do I have a glass half-empty issue or am I just on a bad streak? No matter your answer, after watching Ginger Baker (Cream) hit the filmmaker with his cane in the former and Levon Helm (The Band) have a probe inserted up his nose in the latter, it's time for a break.

In addition to the general state of decrepitude depicted in the films, both of these talented guys suffer from sour grapes syndrome. Baker's attitude is uniformly misanthropic; Helms at least laughs a lot, although that could be a by-product of the volume of pot he smokes while being filmed. As I listened to the litany of complaints in both films, the grace of Pete Best kept coming back to me.

For any non-geeks reading, Pete Best was the original drummer in the Beatles, replaced in 1962 by Ringo Starr. Watching a documentary about Best a few years ago, I detected no trace of the bitterness I'd fully expected. After all, his unceremonious and cowardly sacking by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison was legendary. Best may not have had the drumming chops the Beatles needed. Perhaps he is not a musical peer to Levon Helm and few drummers in rock n' roll have ever approached Ginger Baker's mastery. But if Baker, and to a lesser extent Helm, were ever looking for lessons in grace, they both would benefit having Pete Best as an instructor.

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