The Beatles original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe quit band 60 years ago and died a year later

A number of men have been called the “Fifth Beatle” over the years from pre-Ringo drummer Pete Best to keyboardist Billy Preston. But another has to be The Beatles’ original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe who attended Liverpool College of Art with John Lennon and moved in with him. Eventually, Lennon and Paul McCartney convinced Sutcliffe to buy a bass guitar and join them with George Harrison in The Silver Beetles, who were formerly known as The Quarrymen.
During 1960, Sutcliffe would book gigs for the band and they would often rehearse in his Gambier Terrace flat.

And by August, The Silver Beetles had become The Beatles, hired Best as drummer and were performing in Hamburg.

While in Germany, Sutcliffe met photographer Astrid Kirchherr but during that summer he left the band.

The Beatles’ original bassist decide he wanted to focus on being an artist and enrolled at Hamburg’s University of Fine Arts.

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In the meantime, Sutcliffe leant McCartney his bass until he could afford one himself.

However, being a left-hander Macca had to play the instrument as it was, as requested by its owner.

That November, Sutcliffe and Kirchherr were engaged but the following April he suddenly died at the age of just 21.

He’d been suffering painful headaches and was acutely sensitive to light in the preceding months, while collapsing during an art class in February 1962.

Sir Paul wrote: “Our original bass player Stuart would have been 80 today! 

“So many great memories of our time together. Happy birthday Stu! Love Paul.”

At the time of Sutcliffe’s death, Kirchherr wrote to his mother in which she apologised for being too unwell to attend the funeral in Liverpool.

His fianceé also shared just how devastated Lennon had been at the terrible news.

Kirchherr said: “Oh, Mum, he [Lennon] is in a terrible mood now, he just can’t believe that darling Stuart never comes back.

“[He’s] just crying his eyes out … John is marvellous to me, he says that he knows Stuart so much and he loves him so much that he can understand me.”

Yoko Ono remembers Lennon often speaking of Sutcliffe and saying he was “[My] alter ego… a spirit in his world… a guiding force.”

If you look closely, Sutcliffe is on the cover of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the far left, just in front of fellow artist Aubrey Beardsley.

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