Stuart Sutcliffe – The Heartbreaking Life & Death of The Lost Beatle

Stuart Sutcliffe & John Lennon Rolling Sand in a T-Shirt on a Beach in Hamburg, Germany, Picture Posted with kind permission from Pauline Sutcliffe / THE STUART SUTCLIFFE ESTATE

 I looked up to Stu. I depended on him to tell me the truth…Stu would tell me if something was good and I would believe him. ~ John Lennon

Stuart Sutcliffe, 23 June 1940 – 10 April 1962, the fifth beatle, died almost fifty years ago.

He attended the Liverpool College of Art with John Lennon who convinced him to join his band, The Quarry Men. Stuart didn’t know how to play a bass guitar so the band bought him one and taught him to play, though they were by no means experts at that time.

Sutcliffe and his fiance, Astrid Kercherr, are credited by rock historians with having a key role in creating The Beatles image – their hair, clothes, attitude and their new name, The Beatles.

Sutcliff’s true love was art and when he joined the band, one of his works had already been bought by a museum.

He left The Beatles to attend the Hamburg State Art College to pursue his true love – art. His sister, East End resident Pauline Sutcliffe, said he never regretted his decision because he felt he would be famous anyway.

Then, tragically, at the age of 21, while painting in an attic, he suffered severe headaches and died of a cerebral hemorrhage on his way to the hospital in the arms of his fiance, Astrid, who describes him as the love of her life. Stuart Sutcliffe is buried in Huyton Parish Church Cemetery, Liverpool, England.

Astrid was married for seven years to Gibson Kemp who replaced Ringo Starr. She married once more and since that marriage ended she has lived alone, describing herself as happy.

Sutcliff’s sister Pauline is now auctioning off some of the artwork and letters he left behind to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. One letter being auctioned is a heartbreaking letter written by his fiance two months after his death.

Photos reprinted with the kind permission of Pauline Sutcliffe & the Stuart Sutcliffe Estate, click here for the Stuart Sutcliffe Estate website


“The body of painted works he left behind is broadly reflective of the US trend for abstract expressionism, but reveals equally strong influences from the European contemporary abstract movements of the time.

As Liverpool’s first major Sutcliffe retrospective in more than 40 years shows, the artist tended towards visceral emotion on his canvases as much as he did in his life. Tending to eschew overt lyricism for more primal and dramatic gestures, Sutcliffe’s paintings reveal a fire in the belly that explains much about his time with The Beatles.” Read here: Metrolife UK

The Tender Voice of Stuart Sutcliffe


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