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Old Oct 31, 2001, 01:38 AM   #1
Jose Luis
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Default New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

This a review of a new book about Stu...
http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/b...p?story=102375

2001 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
31 October 2001 09:48 GMT

Stuart Sutcliffe: The Beatles' Shadow

By David Lister

He helped found the Beatles, defined their style, died young, and has been remembered as a sad footnote to pop history. Until now. A controversial new book about Stuart Sutcliffe casts a shocking shadow over the fab four's wholesome image
by David Lister
31 October 2001
The Beatles are not short of biographies. Every few years they come, posing ever more outlandish questions. Did Paul McCartney die in the Sixties to be replaced by a lookalike? (Unlikely.) Did John Lennon have an affair with Brian Epstein? (Probably not.) Did Yoko Ono bring a bed into the recording studio? (Yes, actually.)

Since the first and, in many ways, definitive biography, written in 1968 by Hunter Davies, with which the group co-operated, they have not involved themselves in any other projects. Nor have they passed comment on these bizarre allegations. Instead, the surviving members have left their work, a Nineties television series and last year's autobiography to do the talking.

Next week, though, a book will be published that could contain the most devastating charges yet, charges that will provoke even in lifelong Beatles fans a sharp intake of breath. For this is no hack's cuttings job. It's a lot closer to home than that.

The Beatles' Shadow is by Pauline Sutcliffe, sister of the late Stuart Sutcliffe. Stuart has a curiously elusive place in pop history. He was, for a time, a Beatle. He played with the band in their formative days in Hamburg, pre-Beatlemania. Stuart was on bass when Pete Best was on drums. Best was later replaced by Ringo Starr; but, before that, Sutcliffe left the band of his own accord to concentrate on painting and live with his German girlfriend Astrid, a sombrely attractive girl renowned to Beatles' students as the photographer who took the moody cover shots used on the 1963 With the Beatles album( Complety WRONG!!! Robert Freeman did the shot - JL). Tragically, Sutcliffe, who was particularly close to Lennon, died soon afterwards, in April 1962, of a brain haemorrhage. He was just 21.

So much is well known to those interested in Beatles history, though some might not be aware that Lennon broke down in tears when he heard the news of his best friend's death.

But Pauline Sutcliffe takes the story of those early days much further. She claims: "The intense friendship between Stuart and John, with its many secrets some shocking, some painful is a crucial untold story behind the birth of the Beatles."

And it soon becomes evident what these "secrets" actually are. Pauline Sutcliffe's book alleges that her brother had a homosexual relationship with Lennon. She says that the relationship ended with a furious argument between the two men during which Lennon kicked Stuart in the head. This, she claims, may have led eventually to the brain haemorrhage.

Lest her chilling assertion still be unclear, she spells it out: "I believe that the cerebral haemorrhage that cost Stuart his life was caused by an injury inflicted by John in a jealous rage.

"A postmortem revealed Stuart had a dent in his skull, as though from a blow or kick. And a few months earlier, John had viciously kicked my brother in the head in a sustained, unprovoked attack. John was often gripped by uncontrollable rages and could erupt like a volcano into instantaneous violence, even against those he loved.

"When this attack happened, he was bitterly resentful of my brother's affair with Astrid. Now that Stuart had turned away from the Beatles to concentrate on art, John must have feared the end of their relationship."

Nor is this the end of Pauline's bitter revelations. Her brother had a clear influence on the group's image, she says, but they wrote him out of the script. Even though, at John's insistence, Stuart's face was included in the Pop Art cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Stuart was portrayed in the 1994 film Backbeat, the band never acknowledged her brother's influence on the world's most celebrated pop group.

This rings a little true. The Beatles were never quick to acknowledge the figures from the early days. There is no record that any of the surviving members has even met Pete Best, the drummer they sacked in 1962, since the day he left the band. McCartney, Harrison and Starr like to be in control of their own history.

The case of Sutcliffe is, if anything, even more sensitive. After all, Sutcliffe was a big influence on the band. Lennon had brought him in, and was entranced by his friend's arty charisma. From 1958, when Lennon was 17 and the two teenagers become friends, he was, says Pauline, mesmerised by her brother. "Small and slim, Stuart smoked Gauloises and wore dark glasses that gave an air of mystery."

Lennon liked that, and he also liked Sutcliffe's ideas. John invited him into his group the Quarrymen, but Sutcliffe hated the name and suggested the Beetles, after a group of girl bikers in his favourite film, The Wild One. "John accepted the idea," says Pauline, "just as he would later adopt Stuart's 'mop top' haircut, though the band's name was to go through several permutations, including the Beatals and the Silver Beetles, before assuming its familiar form."

Stuart was also the first to wear the collarless "Beatles jacket", which became part of the band's uniform. It had been designed by Astrid, a former fashion student. Thus the group's name, its haircut and even its clothing could all be said to have originated with Sutcliffe. All of which makes Pauline's allegations more disturbing still.

And though she offers no hard evidence, Pauline is convinced that in the chaos of Hamburg, where the fledgling band played to sailors and prostitutes in cinemas and strip clubs, her brother and Lennon had a relationship that strayed beyond the platonic.

"I have known in my heart for many years that they had a sexual relationship," she writes, "but to protect my mother while she was alive, and out of an old-fashioned sense of propriety, I kept my counsel. With hindsight, it was a lovely happening: two lost boys who found each other in a world where everything was new and foreign."

Pauline stresses that though she believes they had a sexual relationship, neither was homosexual at heart. Still, when her brother proposed to Astrid, she recalls Lennon became moody, constantly putting her down.

Pauline's infinitely more damning claim concerns an incident in Hamburg in Easter, 1961. Lennon, she says, "frustrated over the threat of losing Stuart and the tensions in the band" punched his best friend, who fell on to the pavement. "He had no time to protect himself. John was taken over by one of his uncontrollable rages: he lashed out at Stuart again and again, and kicked him in the head. Stuart was covered in blood by the time Lennon finally came to his senses. He looked down at Stuart and fled, disgusted and terrified by what he had done."

Pauline claims her brother told her about the incident and though it was another 11 months before he died of cerebral haemorrhage, doctors said there was an indent at the front of the skull as the result of a "trauma". Despite the attack, she says the two remained close friends and exchanged letters until Stuart's death.

For Pauline, it has clearly been hard to come to terms with her brother's exclusion from a portion of the credit in the Beatles' story. Why, she wonders, do John and Paul have art exhibited in the Tate and the Royal Academy when Stuart, the most talented artist of the three, does not? The answer, of course, is that they are John and Paul. But that is hard to explain to a sister who has felt resentful for four decades.

And the story has no happy ending. Out of the blue, in the mid-1990s, Pauline said she had a phone call from a lawyer acting for the Beatles. The Anthology album of early demo tracks features Sutcliffe on three songs. "We owe you a little fee," he said to her. "Hang on," she replied, "if Stuart is on those tracks, his estate should get royalties, not just a fee." The lawyer then insisted there was no evidence that Stuart was playing on the tracks. So why then, asks Pauline, was he offering a fee? She did receive 70,000, part of which went to John Moores University to establish a fellowship for young artists in her brother's name.

All of this adds to the wider sense that despite the caring image, the Beatles may have been more callous than they would like to admit. And perhaps significantly, McCartney and Sutcliffe were not that close: Pauline suggests competition for Lennon's friendship may have been the reason. Indeed, the two even fought on stage in Hamburg.

Pauline's attempt to gain belated recognition for her brother is unlikely to wrest a response from McCartney, Harrison or Starr, however. She told The Independent yesterday: "The Beatles will either ignore it or disavow it. With this book, as with Stuart's estate [paintings, letters and memorabilia], which I am now selling, I want to achieve closure. My mother told me when she died not to get entangled with the Beatles, not to show letters or memorabilia but to promote Stuart as a painter. She thought the Beatles were destructive and dangerous, and I've found her words to be true."

Now, nearly 40 years after her brother's death, a devoted sister is wreaking a severe revenge.



'The Beatles' Shadow' is published by Macmillan, price 16.99

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Old Oct 31, 2001, 01:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Good read,thanks for the article!!

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Old Oct 31, 2001, 03:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

I've read some stuff on another board which tends to suggest that this book and its "sensationalist" tone are, if not outright lies, greatly exaggerated. Pauline has written a couple of other books and done many talks, etc. and never mentioned these "theories" before. I don't know what to think. If she's just trying to make a buck off some dead guys, I think that's awful.

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Old Oct 31, 2001, 03:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Obviously, we can't get the truth from either Stu or John. I've heard the Stu's-death-was-caused-by-a-head-injury theory before, though in those instances I've heard that the injury either took place in Scotland or in Hamburg (though in a fight with a sailor, not with John). I'm not inclined to believe it, though. A long time ago (a couple of years, actually), when I still read the rec.music.beatles group, there was a post by someone who claimed to be a nurse that said Stu's death could not have come about from a brain injury. It's hard to tell which source is more credible here, actually.

As for Stu and John having a homosexual relationship...it seems to me that if Brian and John didn't have one, Stu and John didn't have one either. Just my opinion....

Hum, Susan, this review makes it even more important that you go to that party on Friday and meet Pauline. Your impressions of her should help me decide how much weight to give to her claims.

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Old Oct 31, 2001, 06:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Yeah, Sandra, you're right...honestly, I am kind of sorry that I saw this review before I met her, because now I have to try to be objective and not predisposed. However, I pride myself on being an objective reporter -- and I have been asked by Daytrippin' Magazine to write a review of the book myself, as well as an article about the party, plus try to get a future interview with Ms. Sutcliffe. So...I MUST maintain my objectivity.

That said, you must also realize that a review is probably gonna pull the most lurid parts of the book to quote, so perhaps a lot of this stuff is taken out of context. I've heard various theories about what ultimately caused Stu's death before, ranging from a kick in the head after a Beatles gig in a tough neighborhood to a fall down a flight of stairs in Astrid's house in Hamburg. I do know that John agonized over it for years, I read that in several places, he felt responsible whether he was or not, particularly if he did believe that the problem initially resulted from a fight after a Beatles gig. (By the way, I met Astrid at Beatlefest several years ago, AND I heard her speak about the Beatles -- and at NO time did she say anything about John becoming moody or putting her down after Stuart proposed -- something asserted by this review...I'd tend to believe Astrid, and she only spoke of John in the highest terms, but she is not one to exaggerate, either...she was quite matter-of-fact when talking about him.)

Do I think Stu and John had a homosexual relationship? No. Do I think they were EXTREMELY close friends? Yes. Why is it that whenever men have close friendships, people always jump to the conclusion that it must have been homosexual in nature? I mean, women have close girlfriends all the time -- I sure do, and I know I'm heterosexual. And yet, if my equally heterosexual husband said HE had male friends as close as my girlfriends are to me, there are people in this world who'd make comments about it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think it is entirely possible and entirely okay that John and Stu were very close, but I don't necessarily think that there was a sexual aspect to it, and to label it so, particularly if you weren't there firsthand (and Pauline wasn't) is unfair to both John and Stu.

I could probably expound on this for pages and pages, but I won't...I'm sure you all get my drift anyway. But I promise a full report, on the party, on Ms. Sutcliffe herself, and on the book, once I have read it.

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[This Message Has Been Edited By HMVNipper On October 31, 2001 07:13 AM]
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Old Nov 02, 2001, 05:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Okay, really short note...more to follow when I'm more awake...

We went to the book reception at Westwood Gallery tonight. Pauline Sutcliffe is VERY nice, very pleasant, and not at all the person I expected. She seems to be as shocked by the lurid reviews as we are. She signed a copy of the book for me, and I told her I'd be reviewing it for Daytrippin' Magazine, and that I promised to be objective and not focus on the sensational. She seemed to appreciate that!

She also agreed to do an in-depth interview with me for Daytrippin' at a later date -- I have to contact her through the gallery.

But anyway...I'll let you all know what I think once I've read the book for myself, but suffice it to say, she's a really nice person and not some kind of a crazed Beatle-hater or Beatle fan-hater.

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"O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless! O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O truer than steel!" -- Walt Whitman

[This Message Has Been Edited By HMVNipper On November 02, 2001 06:49 PM]
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Old Nov 03, 2001, 04:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Thanks for posting that, Susan! Hum, it's interesting that Pauline was shocked by the lurid reviews too; sounds to me that the "luridness" might all be in the mind of the reviewer. We expect a more complete report on the party and the book later, m'dear.

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Old Nov 03, 2001, 09:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Tahoma, Arial, Sans-Serif">Quote:</font><HR>Originally Posted By HMVNipper:
Okay, really short note...more to follow when I'm more awake...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good news, Susan. Are you more awake yet?

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Old Nov 04, 2001, 06:55 AM   #9
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

susan - yes, thank you for your insights once again. i am eager to hear your thoughts on the book.

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Old Nov 04, 2001, 03:20 PM   #10
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

I'm still reading, folks...but I can tell you that a lot of the stuff quoted in the review above is taken completely out of context, and in context, it is not anywhere near as sensationalized as that review made it appear.

I'll have comments in a day or two, give me time to finish reading!

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"O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless! O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O truer than steel!" -- Walt Whitman
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Old Nov 05, 2001, 08:44 PM   #11
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Time's up.

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Old Nov 06, 2001, 03:41 AM   #12
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Tahoma, Arial, Sans-Serif">Quote:</font><HR>Originally Posted By HMVNipper:
a lot of the stuff quoted in the review above is taken completely out of context, and in context, it is not anywhere near as sensationalized as that review made it appear.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm very glad to hear that. I was hoping that would be the case.


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Old Nov 06, 2001, 01:16 PM   #13
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Tahoma, Arial, Sans-Serif">Quote:</font><HR>Originally Posted By Rellevart:
I'm very glad to hear that. I was hoping that would be the case.


<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

yes, i concur, rell. thanks for your work, susan.

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Old Nov 11, 2001, 02:27 AM   #14
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Um this is my first ever post here so I don't know if this will work.

I read the excerpts in the paper it looks like a really interesting book, I think I will get it because it will be someone elses persective upon the Beatles and Sturat himself.
I say it would be interesting, very.

Oh my flag isn't working, it should be the Irish flag
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[This Message Has Been Edited By Truli On November 11, 2001 03:33 AM]
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Old Nov 11, 2001, 03:25 AM   #15
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Hi Truli, welcome! Enjoy yourself here!

And you're right, the book IS very interesting...certainly the new perspective is fascinating.

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"O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless! O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O truer than steel!" -- Walt Whitman

[This Message Has Been Edited By HMVNipper On November 11, 2001 04:26 AM]
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Old Nov 11, 2001, 02:39 PM   #16
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...



welcome, welcome, truli! hope you have fun here!



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Old Nov 11, 2001, 03:06 PM   #17
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Welcome to Beatlelinks, Truli!

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Old Nov 11, 2001, 08:21 PM   #18
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

Welcome to Beatlelinks, Truli. A splendid time is guaranteed for all. Be sure to take a spin down Menlove Avenue once in a while.

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Old Nov 11, 2001, 10:17 PM   #19
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Default Re: New Stuart Sutcliffe biography...

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Tahoma, Arial, Sans-Serif">Quote:</font><HR>Originally Posted By Truli:
Um this is my first ever post here so I don't know if this will work.

I read the excerpts in the paper it looks like a really interesting book, I think I will get it because it will be someone elses persective upon the Beatles and Sturat himself.
I say it would be interesting, very.

Oh my flag isn't working, it should be the Irish flag
Oh and Hi! everone!

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

HI! Welcome to Beatlelinks. You will love it here!!
TRULI you will bring us the "Luck" of the Irish!
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[This Message Has Been Edited By McCharlenstar On November 11, 2001 11:18 PM]
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