The Beatles: Get Back preview released by Peter Jackson
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The Beatles found fame as the Fab Four and did not change their line-up at all once Beatlemania hit. John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Sir Ringo Starr are household names thanks to their time in the biggest-selling music act of all time. But there was a bass player in the band before Sir Paul took over in this role, who left very early in the band’s career.
Who was Stuart Sutcliffe?
Stuart Sutcliffe was a friend of John Lennon’s from his art school days and was the original bass player in the band.
John, aged just 16, formed a band with friends from school which was briefly called The Blackjacks after it was renamed as The Quarrymen.
Sir Paul McCartney joined them sometime later, after which Geroge Harrison joined the band.
After this, the group changed their name with the help of Stuart, who helped come up with the new name which is now synonymous with their success.
Stuart is believed to have 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, as well as being a tribute to Buddy Holly, was also an example of something any bands were doing at the time because of the ever-growing Merseybeat and Beat movements.
In May 1960, he joined John, Sir Paul and George in their band and began booking gigs for the group, with original drummer Pete Best also playing.
One of the biggest gigs which took place for The Beatles was their Hamburg residency, which was where the band was first truly seen on the circuit.
The group left the UK for Hamburg in the same year Stu joined, but soon after arriving he met photographer Astrid Kirchherr and became infatuated with her.
The couple began a relationship, but he left in January 1961 for a short while before returning to Hamburg in March of that year.
In July 1961, Stuart realised his first love – art – was still calling to him, and he ended up staying in the country to study 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.
By 1962, Stuart was experiencing terrible headaches, including sensitivity to light and even blindness.
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 brain haemorrhage, a ruptured aneurysm, when he was just 21-years-old.
Astrid wrote to his mother and told the band when they arrived in Hamburg a few days later.
Her letter, which is in a museum in Hamburg, explained her own feelings about Stuart as well as those of Stuart’s close friend John.
It read: “Oh, Mum, he (John Lennon) is in a terrible mood now, he just can’t believe that darling Stuart never comes back.
“[He’s] just crying his eyes out … John is marvellous to me, he says that he knows Stuart so much and he loves him so much that he can understand me.”
Stuart’s playing for The Beatles was included in some later editions of their albums, and his image was used on the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
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