The Beatles: Get Back preview released by Peter Jackson
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Stuart Sutcliffe had only a very short tenure in The Beatles. He left to pursue art, and also the love of his life, who lived in Germany. However, in the end, his life was cut short, and his death shocked and surprised his former bandmates.
How did The Beatles founder Stuart Sutcliffe die?
Stuart Sutcliffe died of a cerebral haemorrhage on April 10, 1962.
He became The Beatles’ bass player very early on and even helped to give the band its name.
John Lennon, aged just 16, formed a band with friends from school which was briefly called The Blackjacks, after it was renamed as The Quarrymen.
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Sir Paul McCartney joined them sometime later, after which George Harrison joined the band as well, meaning there were three guitarists.
The other members of The Quarrymen left the group, leaving the three Beatles, at which point the three remaining performers continued as Johnny and the Moondogs.
But the band name came with Stuart, who suggested the band change their name to Beatals, which was in tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
They were Beatals for some time, before becoming The Silver Beetles, after which they altered the spelling of the name to The Silver Beatles.
Shortly after they went to The Beatles, which was, as well as a tribute to Buddy Holly, an example of something bands were doing at the time by incorporating the word ‘beat’ into their names.
Stuart joined the band in 1960, along with drummer Pete Best, and they went to Hamburg for the first of many residencies.
In July 1961, Stuart realised his first love – art – was still calling to him, and he ended up staying in the country to study for a postgraduate degree at the Hamburg University of Fine Art, living with his girlfriend.
He left the band and continued with his art, painting some abstract art while he was in Hamburg.
Some works but Stuart were purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, while others, according to Barry Miles’ book about the band, were hung in both Sir Paul and John’s houses.
Another reason for Stuart’s departure was also his meeting Astrid Kirchherr, a photographer with whom he became involved.
However, their relationship, and his art career, were short-lived, as in February 1962 he collapsed during an art class, but doctors were unable to diagnose him.
On April 10, 1962, Stuart died of a type of ruptured aneurysm, when he was just 21-years-old.
According to film director Iain Softley, Astrid spoke of how she and John coped with Stuart’s death, taking ‘a load of pills’ and talking about their lost companion.
Iain said Astrid confided: “‘He was jealous when Klaus and I fancied Stuart more, and took him home and left John out.
“‘He told me he really loved Stuart but was afraid of the feeling.’”
Iain said: “I think she thought he meant as a friend, I don’t think there was any suggestion they were in a relationship.
“But Stuart had always been John’s best friend, they shared a flat in Liverpool.
“John would write to Stuart as ‘Jesus Christ to John the Baptist’, in the sense Stuart was showing him the way. He looked up to him.
“There was a sense John didn’t want Stuart taken away from him, he didn’t want Stuart to stay in Hamburg.
“At the same time he was very fond of Astrid, but I think there was a conflict there.”
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