Fifth Beatle: Stuart Sutcliffe – Gone But Not Forgotten

 

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Two guys sitting in a bar having a great time and very much intoxicated, they amusingly mimic a girl singing on stage. They are very humored by this form of entertainment while completely suspended from sensibility. Next thing they know one of them is pinned to the ground and gets the beating of his life! His best friend, John Lennon, tries to defend him the best as he could and even gets his wrist broken in the process. Bludgeoned and almost covered in blood, Stuart Sutcliffe gets kicked in the head extremely hard, which many believed is what triggered the brain hemorrhage that lead to his death in 1962. The Beatles will never be the same again.

Born on the 23rd of June, 1940, Stuart Ferguson Victor Sutcliffe was a quiet, good looking, but very shy lad. He had personal charisma and looks comparable to James Dean. He would often reserve away from the female gender, but still would not have any trouble having them as companions. His passion for art was not just a hobby but more of a way of life. Every stroke of paint that he put onto a canvass was an expression of a different aspect of himself. By the age of 19, he was already considered as one of the most promising and talented students at the Liverpool College of Arts. While Sutcliffe was a gifted artist, he also had an interest with music; this was mainly influenced by his friendship with John Lennon. Stu would hang around with John’s group during gigs and rehearsals while doing his work. This almost brought a concern to his fellow artists that he might abandon his first love, painting. But nevertheless, he was still just as interested in art as he always had been.

As Stu and John’s college years progressed, they developed a remarkable friendship that would be envied almost by everyone around at that time (who wouldn’t!) they would rely on each other for anything anytime. Stu would influence John to express his creative side while John on the other hand, would tell Stu to relax a bit more and teach him how to connect with others. Both of them cherished this and became the best of friends. As Stuart further expounded his skills for art he decided to enter some of his paintings for the John Moore exhibition which was regarded as one of the best around for its type. John(Lennon) was so excited for Stu that he even brought his Aunt Mimi to the exhibit to flaunt his best friend’s work. This also caught the attention of the host (John Moore) and even bought one of Stu’s paintings for an unheard sum of 65 pounds! Having received this large sum of money, Stu didn’t exactly knew what to do with it. Sure he had a few debts here and there or maybe he should buy more painting materials to further support his craft, but instead John convinced him to buy a bass guitar (Hofner President) and join his group, Johnny & the Moondogs. Although Stu didn’t really know how to play and had to turn down John a couple of times, he finally decided to give it a go and this would turn out to be one of the most important decisions that he would make in his life. Never mind that he couldn’t play he would eventually pick it up by self-teaching and “with a little help from his friends.”

Years later George (Harrison) would recall in one interview: “Stu had no idea how to play, we all showed him what we could but he really picked it up by coming around with us and playing onstage.” Although it became clear to everyone including John, that Stuart would never be as excellent a musician as he was a brilliant artist. The group would turn his amp off whenever he couldn’t follow a song or was having a difficult time finishing it. Stu on the other hand, would rather turn his back to the crowd during live gigs for them not to notice his flaw.

However because of this, he was able to embody that distinctive sense of style and mystery to the band’s appearance. Shortly after a few gigs in their local area, the boys got an invitation to play in a club somewhere in Hamburg. But before flying-off, they had to undergo a series of modifications of their band’s name; from Johnny & the Moondogs, to the Silver Beetles, until finally Stu came up with just “The Beetles.” Stuart was thinking of a name that would resemble Buddy Holly & the Cricketts since John and Paul (McCartney) were into them at that time.

Later the second “e” was dropped and instead was replaced by an “a” since John had specified that “we’re a beat group.”

Meanwhile back in Hamburg, a couple were having a lover’s quarrel when the guy, Klaus Voorman (who later went on to design the cover of Revolver) decided to walk out and just wander the streets of Hamburg for some fresh air until he found himself walking into a club and heard a performance by a group of musicians from Liverpool. He was also so enthralled by this and ran back to his (then) lover, Astrid Kircherr, to tell her about them. They began to talk to these boys after the performance and right away there was an immediate connection between Stuart and Astrid. Even though there was a huge communication gap, the two fell in love instantly with each other.

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