He couldn’t play the bass, but he certainly could paint. The trouble is, Stuart Sutcliffe never lived long enough to fulfill the destiny his talents promised, tragically dying at the age of twenty-one from a brain haemorrhage.
As The Beatles original bass player, and John Lennon’s best mate, Sutcliffe’s legend has grown over these past fifty years, and this documentary Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle examines the short life and long myth of the man who quit the Fab Four to follow his own star.
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.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
More on Stuart Sutcliffe, after the jump…