Download: Stuart Sutcliffe The Lost Beatle Part 2/4

By Andy McCormack


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Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle explores the mystique surrounding the Beatles' original bassist, who left the band to follow a different muse and died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 22. Told via interviews with an impressive array of Sutcliffe's family and friends--and through uniquely descriptive quotes from his letters--this hour-long documentary reveals a lot of intimate detail about Sutcliffe's transition from promising art-school student in Liverpool (and best friend of John Lennon) to reluctant musician (pressed into service by Lennon) to determined painter within the German avant-garde scene. A lot of Stu's story, as Beatles fans know, is set in Hamburg, during and after the days the group was a house band in the city's red-light district. Familiar tales of friction between Sutcliffe and Paul McCartney abound. But these are offset by a tremendous amount of fresh insight and detail offered by such important Beatles-saga figures as rocker Tony Sheridan, Klaus Voormann and--most crucially--Astrid Kirchherr, the photographer who influenced the Beatles' look and who became Sutcliffe's lover until his death.

At art college in Liverpool in 1959, Stuart Sutcliffe met John Lennon and they soon became close -with Lennon persuading Sutcliffe to use the proceeds of a painting he had sold to buy a bass guitar and join his band, along with Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Before long, with drummer Pete Best in the line-up, they won a contract in Hamburg playing sleazy clubs in the seedy Reeperbahn area of the city, amidst the casual sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll of the era. The newly-christened Beatles were on their way.
With the band on the brink of success, Sutcliffe left the group to concentrate on his first love, art, and his new love, German photographer Astrid Kirchherr. But Stuart's health soon began to decline. On the 10th of April 1962, Stuart suffered a seizure and slipped into a coma. As Astrid cradled his head in her hands, Stuart died of a cerebral hemorrhage, cutting short the life of the promising young artist.
Interviewees include Stuart's fiancée and Beatles stylist/photographer Astrid Kirchherr, early Beatles manager Allan Williams, Stuart's sister Pauline Sutcliffe, Liverpool flatmate to Sutcliffe and Lennon, Rod Murray and esteemed American art historian and writer Donald Kuspit.