The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1940, Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe grew up in Liverpool, England.

From an early age, he showed his outstanding artistic talent. Earning money as a scavenger, Stewart enrolled at Liverpool Art College. He was considered one of the best artists in his class, working mainly in the abstract expressionist style.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961. Stuart Sutcliffe poses for a portrait in Liverpool, England.

It was in college that he met a classmate of John Lennon, who became his neighbor. After Sutcliffe sold one of his paintings for a whopping £65 at the time, John persuaded him to buy a bass guitar - despite the fact that the guy could barely play — and join Lennon's band, created by him with friends Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1960. An early version of The Beatles, photographed by John Lennon: manager Allan Williams, his wife Beryl, business partner Lord Woodbine, Stuart Sutcliffe, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best.

The band's name has already changed many times. After joining Sutcliffe and Lennon suggested the name Beetles ("Beetles"), by analogy with the Crickets group ("Crickets") on the sidelines of Buddy Holly (Buddy Holly). Within a few months, this name turned first into the Silver Beetles, then into the Silver Beatles and eventually into the Beatles.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1960. The Silver Beatles - Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, drummer Johnny Hatch and George Harrison - performs in Liverpool.

"He wasn't really a very good musician. In fact, he wasn't a musician at all until we talked to him about buying a bass guitar. He picked up a few things, and he was doing a little bit. It was a little silly, but it didn't matter at the time because he looked so great" (George Harrison).

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961. Sutcliffe plays bass guitar with The Beatles at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961.

Together with a hastily selected drummer Pete Best, Sutcliffe and The Beatles went to Hamburg to perform in clubs and gain experience.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

Sutcliffe on stage with The Beatles at a club in Hamburg.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1960. Sutcliffe performs with The Beatles at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg.

There Sutcliffe fell in love with photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who two months later became his fiancee. It was she who came up with his haircut, which was subsequently adopted by the rest of the group.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961. Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe pose together in Hamburg.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961.

However, the relationship within the group was heating up. Paul McCartney wanted the guy to leave the band, because then he would have become a bass guitarist himself. Once the conflict even resulted in a real fight on the stage of the Top Ten Club.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

Sutcliffe plays bass guitar behind John Lennon and George Harrison at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961. John Lennon sings and plays guitar with Stuart Sutcliffe and George Harrison at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg.

In 1961, Sutcliffe left The Beatles to focus on painting and living with Astrid. He won a scholarship for graduate students at the Hamburg College of Art, dreaming of studying with the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961. Sutcliffe plays behind George Harrison.

However, his career was interrupted when, on April 10, 1962, at the age of 21, after a series of severe headaches, he died of a brain hemorrhage.

The tragic life story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the "fifth Beatle"

1961.

Sutcliffe's face can still be seen on the far left side of the Sgt album cover. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Keywords: The Beatles | Musician | Fate | Tragedy

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