Stu Sutcliffe: The Original Beatle
Stu Sutcliffe was a key figure in the Beatles’ early history, playing bass guitar and, many say, helping the group settle on a name. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even a musician. Sutcliffe was a promising painter who lived with John Lennon while both were students at the Liverpool College of Art. After Sutcliffe sold a painting for the princely sum of £65, Lennon persuaded him to buy a bass guitar and join his group, the Quarrymen, in 1959.
According to some versions of Beatles lore, Sutcliffe helped shape rock n’ roll history by suggesting the group change its name to play off Buddy Holly’s band, the Crickets.
A welcome addition for his good looks and bohemian fashion sense, Sutcliffe’s elementary musical abilities never matched that of his bandmates and he left the group in 1961 (George Harrison later said of his playing: “It was a bit ropey, but it didn’t matter at that time because he looked so cool.”) Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage the following year, just 21 years old.
Stu also happened to be boyfriend of Photographer Astrid Kirccherr. Astrid’s photos of The Beatles in Hamburg are some of the most iconic ever taken of the Beatles when Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe were still part of the band and there was no sign of Ringo…yet.