Stuart Sutcliffe was born 70 years ago today, June 23, 1940. Not a well-known name anymore, but Stuart was once a member, before they became world famous, of perhaps the biggest rock band of all time- the Beatles. Born in Scotland, at three years of age Stuart's family moved to Liverpool, England. As a teenager at the Liverpool College of Art he met and became close friends with fellow student John Lennon. Stuart showed real talent as an artist, especially in the field of abstract expressionism. But John was more drawn to music, and he wanted Stuart to be part that scene with him. In early summer 1960, despite his rudimentary musical skills, John Lennon and Paul McCartney persuaded Stuart to take the money he had earned selling one of his paintings and buy a bass guitar and join their band. He went with the Beatles to Hamburg, Germany where they toiled away the hours in obscurity, playing in dingy bars.
Stuart was never comfortable onstage and it has been said he often played with his back to the audience. While in Germany, Stuart met a local girl, Astrid Kirchirr, who was herself a young art student and photographer. Kirchirr ended up taking some of the earliest photos of the Beatles as a group, including the photo of Stuart shown above. She and Stuart began seriously dating, eventually getting engaged. In early 1961 Stuart told the band he didn't want to play any more, and resumed his art studies. His life and the lives of the Beatles parted ways, though he remained in contact with all of the Beatles after his departure. On April 10, 1962, he collapsed during an art class in Hamburg and died en route to the hospital in an ambulance. It was determined that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage. He was only 22 years old.