Former Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe was born on this day in 1940. Former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe you say? Wasn’t it John, Paul, George and Ringo? Yes but before The Beatles became big they had a bassist named Stuart Sutcliffe. Stuart was an art college best friend of John Lennon’s. Stuart was a serious student and very talented artist. He became a Beatle for a period of time after he sold one of his pieces of art. He had all this money and The Beatles needed a bass player. They talked Stuart into spending some of his money on a new bass guitar and joining the group. From all accounts he wasn’t a very talented musician. He would play with his back to the crowd in concerts to cover up his lack of talent. But Stuart was very cool and stylish and that would have an influence on the group. He was a Beatle for two reasons- they talked him into it and he was close mates with John. Paul is said to have given Stuart a hard time- possibly due to the competition for John’s attention. Stuart and John were born months apart- Paul was nearly 2 years younger. Also the fact he his playing was hurting the band could have been involved too. Stuart by the accounts I’ve read was rather quiet and took the abuse he got from time to time from the boys.



Sutcliffe was only a member of The Beatles from May 1960 until July 1961 when he left the band to continue his painting.  As a Beatle Sutcliffe went with them to play in Hamburg, Germany where he met Astrid Kirchherr -they began dating and quickly became engaged. While in Germany Sutcliffe began having severe headaches and an acute sensitivity to light. Kerchherr said he would even suffer temporary blindness at times due to the headaches. On April 10th 1962 he collapsed and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Cause of death was a ruptured aneurysm. Stuart Sutcliffe was only 21. A few days later The Beatles returned to Hamburg for another stint and were met at the airport by Astrid who told them Stuart had died a couple days earlier.  {Note- Astrid Kerchherr is given credit for giving The Beatles ‘the Beatle haircut.”

It is impossible to say what would have happened had Stuart Sutcliffe lived. From what I have read over the years many feel he was extremely talented and would have made a mark in the art world. The Beatles in 1967 would pay tribute to their friend by having his likeness on the cover of their iconic album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Several of the recordings from Hamburg that included Stuart’s playing were included in The Beatles Anthology 1. He was also pictured on the cover of Anthology 1 and 3.





  1. Astrid Kirchherr’s photographs take you back to this speacial time and place. The movie “Backbeat” (1994) has also the bond between John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe at its centre.

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