John Lennon Wore Pete Best's Grandfather's Medals on the Cover of 'Sgt. Pepper'

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Beatles wore costumes on the cover of 'Sgt. Pepper.' John Lennon managed to get medals from a former Beatles drummer.

John Lennon brought a connection to former Beatles‘ drummer Pete Best to the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While Paul McCartney and George Harrison adorned their costumes with their MBEs, Lennon did not want to do this. Instead, he reached out to Best’s family several years after unceremoniously firing him from the group. Here’s how he got a hold of his grandfather’s medals.
John Lennon requested to wear Pete Best’s grandfather’s medals on the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ cover

In 1962, The Beatles fired their drummer, Best, and hired Ringo Starr. They were too afraid to tell Best themselves, so they had their manager, Brian Epstein, let him go. Lennon admitted this was cowardly.

“We were cowards when we sacked him,” he said, per The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies. “We made Brian do it. But if we told Pete to his face, that would have been much nastier than getting Brian to do it. It probably would have ended in a fight if we’d told him.”

Though they ended on bad terms, Lennon decided to reach out to the Best family about wearing the war medals of Pete’s grandfather, Major Thomas Shaw. He received them for his service with the British Raj in India. Lennon reached out to Best’s mother, Mona, about borrowing them for the cover shoot.

Source: Emma McKee/

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