Stuart Sutcliffe, born in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 23, 1940, was the original bass player for the Beatles. Bill Harry, who would would become editor of Mersey Beat, introduced Sutcliffe to John Lennon while the two young men studied at Liverpool Art College. Lennon and McCartney persuaded Sutcliffe to buy a Hofner bass guitar, and in May of 1960, Sutcliffe joined Harrison, McCartney, and Harrison, who were then known as the Silver Beatles.
From the beginning, Sutcliffe did not appear to be a talented bass guitarist, playing only a few basic chords, and many sources say that he would play with his back to the audience. He played with the Beatles in Germany, and remained with Lennon when Harrison was deported for being underage, while McCartney and Pete Best were sent home for attempted arson. (The band sometimes burned their landlady's furniture to keep warm.)
Sutcliffe met photographer Astrid Kircherr while playing with the Beatles in Hamburg at the Kaiserkeller club. The couple became engaged in November of 1960. In July of 1961, Sutcliffe left the group to pursue his career in abstract expressionist art. It was at this time that Paul McCartney took over on bass.
While living in Germany with Kircherr, Sutcliffe began to experience terrible headaches, some of which affected his sight to the point of temporary blindness. German doctors could not find the source of the headaches, but Sutcliffe declined to return to England to seek additional health screenings. He collapsed on April 22, 1962 and died of a brain aneurysm. There has always been speculation that the brain hemorrhage resuled from an earlier head injury when he and John Lennon got into a fight after a 1961 performance.
Sutcliffe's picture is featured on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as well as Anthology One.
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