Melanie Coe ran away from home in 1967 when she was 15. Paul McCartney read about her in the papers and wrote ‘She’s Leaving Home’ for Sgt.Pepper’s. Melanie didn’t know Paul’s song was about her, but actually, the two did meet earlier, when Paul was the judge and Melanie a contestant in Ready Steady Go!
The subtitles are produced live for The One Show, so some seconds late and with a few mistakes.
Melanie at 17 in the picture that made the front pages in 1967 and inspired the Beatles.
Melanie’s first moment of fame, receiving a prize from Paul McCartney for miming to Brenda Lee on Ready Steady Go! in 1963
Melanie in 2008
She’s Leaving Home- The Beatles
She’s Leaving Home
Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begings
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hoped would say more
She goes downstairs to the kitchen clutching her hankerchief
Quietly turing the backdoor key
Stepping outside she is free.
She (We gave her most of our lives)
is leaving (Sacraficed most of our lives)
home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years. Bye, bye
Father snores as his wife gets into her dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs
She breaks down and cries to her husband
Daddy our baby’s gone.
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly
How could she do this to me.
She (We never though of ourselves)
Is leaving (Never a thought for ourselves)
home (We struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years. Bye, bye
Friday morning at nine o’clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
Meeting a man from the motor trade.
She What did we do that was wrong
Is having We didn’t know it was wrong
Fun Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy
Something inside that was always denied
For so many years. Bye, Bye
She’s leaving home bye bye
#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer
Melanie Coe – She’s Leaving Home – The Beatles
Why is she leaving home? Francis Schaeffer noted on pages 15-17 in volume 4 of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FRANCIS SCHAEFFER from the original book “The Church at the end of the 20th Century” the reason she left and it was because of the bankruptcy of the materialistic views of her parents. Schaeffer points that for many years there was one message that the media was promoting and that was since we now believe in the “UNIFORMITY OF NATURAL CAUSES IN A CLOSED SYSTEM we are left with only the impersonal plus time plus chance.” Schaeffer continued:
How Should We Then Live – Episode 9 – The Age of Personal Peace & Affluence
In the late summer, early fall of 1966, The Beatles were tired of being The Beatles. The Fab Four couldn’t go anywhere without being mobbed, they had grown to hate touring because the wild screams of young girls drowned out their primitive amplifiers to the point that they couldn’t hear themselves play! They took a break and stewed in jealousy over the recently released Beach Boys album Pet Sounds that critics were proclaiming to be the most innovative material since the rise of rock & roll itself.
On the return from an African vacation, Paul McCartney had an epiphany–create an altar image and release a groundbreaking concept record that would be a show in and of itself. The result was Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. McCartney hoped to create an album that captured the essence of childhood and everyday life. A number of songs effectively do just that (even the controversial “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,’ which most took to be a reference to LSD was in fact an ode to a picture drawn by John Lennon’s son Julian) but the concept proved too difficult even for the infamously disciplined Beatles to pull off and, ultimately, many of the songs were simply the best the four had to offer at the time.
The effect was still stunning. Rolling Stone has twice proclaimed the album to be the best rock & roll record ever made. Every song on Sgt. Pepper’s is a masterpiece, from the the title track which serves as an introduction to the somber but brilliant “A Day in the Life.”
When I first listened to Sgt. Pepper’s from beginning to finish, I was only 17 and failed to see why it was so influential but, after working for rock & roll icons Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, I came to see that from the perspective of 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s changed pop music forever. To appreciate today, one must still listen to it in context and listen to it you must without distraction and from beginning to end.
While many “Beatlemaniacs” identify “With A Little Help From My Friends” or the catchy “When I’m Sixty-Four” as their favorite tracks, I always believed “She’s Leaving Home” was the most thoughtful track. McCartney was inspired to write the song after reading a newspaper article about a young girl who had disappeared. The tune captures a moment where a girl leaves the home of her parents who tried to give her “everything money could buy” but still left her feeling as if she were alone.
As a Christian listening to Sgt. Pepper’s it is hard not to think of Francis Schaeffer who reportedly cried when the Free Speech movement died despite his conservatism. Schaeffer did not agree with the far left but was pleased to see a generation who, like the girl in “She’s Leaving Home,” was looking for more than just material comfort. Then and now, there is a myth born in the depths of hell that the meaning of life is a comfortable existence with a lot of money and the toys. In fact, life is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the only one of the Beatles who ever truly investigated the liberation of Christianity was John Lennon who had a regular correspondence with Jerry Falwell up until his death. Sadly, Yoko Ono apparently opposed John’s inquiries.
Regardless, Sgt. Pepper’s is worth your time.
Next week, we will look at the art of Jackson Pollock.
Francis Schaeffer pictured below:
|“She’s Leaving Home”|
|Song by the Beatles from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|Released||1 June 1967|
|Recorded||17 March 1967,
EMI Studios, London
|Length||3:26 (mono), 3:35 (stereo)|
|Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandtrack listing|
“She’s Leaving Home” is a Lennon–McCartney song, released in 1967 on the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Paul McCartney wrote and sang the verse and John Lennon the chorus while neither George Harrison nor Ringo Starr were involved in the recording. The song was performed entirely by a small string orchestra arranged by Mike Leander, and was one of only a handful of Beatles songs in which the members did not play any instruments on the recording.
John and I wrote ‘She’s Leaving Home’ together. It was my inspiration. We’d seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who’d left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up … It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It’s a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well.
While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents’ view: ‘We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.’ I think that may have been in the runaway story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there’s the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in “Yellow Submarine“, they weren’t real people.
The newspaper story McCartney mentioned was from the front page of the Daily Mirror, about a girl named Melanie Coe. Although McCartney invented most of the content in the song, Coe, who was 17 at the time, claims that most of it was accurate. In actuality, Coe did not “meet a man from the motor trade”, but instead a croupier, and left in the afternoon while her parents were at work, while the girl in the song leaves early in the morning as her parents sleep. Coe was found ten days later because she had let slip where her boyfriend worked. When she returned home, she was pregnant and had an abortion.
In a bizarre coincidence, Coe had actually met McCartney three years earlier, in 1963 when he chose her as the prize winner in a dancing contest on ITV’s Ready Steady Go!. An update on Coe appeared in the Daily Mail in May 2008, and she was interviewed about the song on the BBC programme The One Show on 24 November 2010.
The day before McCartney wanted to work on the song’s score, he learned that George Martin, who usually handled the Beatles’ string arrangements, was not available. He contacted Mike Leander, who did it in Martin’s place. It was the first time a Beatles song was not arranged by Martin (and the only time it was done with the Beatles’ consent: Phil Spector‘s orchestration of Let It Be was done without McCartney’s knowledge or approval). Martin was hurt by McCartney’s actions, but he produced the song and conducted the string section. The harp was played by Sheila Bromberg, one of the first studio musicians to appear on a Beatles record.
The stereo version of the song runs at a slower speed than the mono mix, and consequently is a semitone lower in pitch. This is mentioned in the booklet accompanying The Beatles in Mono CD box set, but no reason is given. A 2007 Mojo magazine article revealed the mono mix was sped up to make Paul sound younger and tighten the track.
When discussing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, composer Ned Rorem described “She’s Leaving Home” as “equal to any song that Schubert ever wrote.” In April 1967, McCartney visited Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in L.A. to preview Sgt. Pepper, playing “She’s Leaving Home” on the piano for him and his wife. “We both just cried,” Wilson said. “It was beautiful.”
The Beatles – She’s Leaving Home – Lyrics
A beautiful Paul McCartney song from the 1967 BEATLES masterpiece SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.
When you think about the song SHE’S LEAVING HOME, you must come to the conclusion that the Beatles knew exactly what was going through the young person’s mind in the 1960’s. No wonder in the video THE AGE OF NON-REASON Schaeffer noted, ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.”
How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)
There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.
The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)
You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicle, of Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, 9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets. 10. Cyrus Cylinder, 11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E., 12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription, 13. The Pilate Inscription, 14. Caiaphas Ossuary, 14 B Pontius Pilate Part 2, 14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.,
By Elvis Costello
My absolute favorite albums are Rubber Soul and Revolver. On both records you can hear references to other music — R&B, Dylan, psychedelia — but it’s not done in a way that is obvious or dates the records. When you picked up Revolver, you knew it was something different. Heck, they are wearing sunglasses indoors in the picture on the back of the cover and not even looking at the camera . . . and the music was so strange and yet so vivid. If I had to pick a favorite song from those albums, it would be “And Your Bird Can Sing” . . . no, “Girl” . . . no, “For No One” . . . and so on, and so on. . . .
Their breakup album, Let It Be, contains songs both gorgeous and jagged. I suppose ambition and human frailty creeps into every group, but they delivered some incredible performances. I remember going to Leicester Square and seeing the film of Let It Be in 1970. I left with a melancholy feeling.
‘She’s Leaving Home’
Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: March 17 and 20, 1967
Released: June 2, 1967
Not released as a single
“She’s Leaving Home” was inspired by a newspaper story about a well-to-do 17-year-old girl named Melanie Coe who disappeared from her parents’ home in London. While McCartney took the perspective of the teen runaway, Lennon sang counterpoint (the “Greek chorus,” as McCartney called it) in the voice of the heartbroken parents.
McCartney was so impatient to record the song, he hired arranger Mike Leander to orchestrate the strings instead of waiting for George Martin, who was busy with another artist. “I was surprised and hurt,” Martin admitted. “It was just Paul being Paul.”
The real-life Melanie Coe ended up going back home to her mom and dad after three weeks; she was pregnant and had an abortion. But the girl in the song represented all the teenagers who were running away from their conventional lives in the Sixties. In April 1967, McCartney visited Brian Wilson in L.A. to preview Sgt. Pepper, playing “She’s Leaving Home” on the piano for him and his wife. “We both just cried,” Wilson said. “It was beautiful.”
Appears On: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: February 11, 1968
Released: January 13, 1969
Not released as a single
What could have been a novelty song turned into one of the Beatles’ heaviest pieces of music. Since they were being filmed at Abbey Road for a promotional video for their single “Lady Madonna,” the band decided they may as well record the extra song needed for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. “Paul said we should do a real song in the studio,” Lennon said. “Could I whip one off? I had a few words at home, so I brought them in.” A few days earlier, McCartney had played drums on a Paul Jones rocker called “The Dog Presides,” which had featured barking sound effects. During the Beatles’ session, McCartney and Lennon ended up woofing and howling, and the title became “Hey Bulldog.” For all its playfulness, “Hey Bulldog” was a biting, aggressive piece of music: Harrison ran his guitar through a fuzz box and then turned up his amp extra loud, resulting in a particularly ferocious solo. “I helped [Lennon] finish it off in the studio,” McCartney said of the song, “but it’s mainly his vibe.” Lennon himself called it “a good-sounding record that means nothing.”
Appears On: Yellow Submarine
The Beatles – Mother Nature’s Son (Rehearsal)
Title: Mother Nature’s Son – Rehearsal taped June 11,1968.Paul recorded 32 takes of Blackbird on this day and in between takes he ran through Mother Nature’s Son,a song he had written in India and demoed at George Harrison’s Esher estate “Kinfauns” in May.Listen to John’s suggestion about a brass band being used for the song.Paul would record the song on Aug 9 with the brass being added on the 20th.
‘Mother Nature’s Son’
Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: August 9 and 20, 1968
Released: November 25, 1968
Not released as a single
After attending a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Lennon and McCartney each wrote songs about the experience. Lennon’s was “Child of Nature,” which he demo’d, but didn’t record, for the White Album (it was later rewritten as “Jealous Guy”). McCartney’s was this acoustic piece, which owed a debt to Nat “King” Cole’s “Nature Boy,” and to his relationship with Linda Eastman: “When Linda and I got together,” he said, “we discovered we had this deep love of nature in common.”
By the time McCartney recorded the song, the White Album sessions had nearly become simultaneous solo projects — “Mother Nature’s Son” is one of four songs on the album that McCartney recorded by himself. He did the basic track on August 9th, after the rest of the band had gone home for the night, and returned to it 11 days later, playing drums (set up in a corridor to alter their sound) and overseeing a brass ensemble. When Lennon — who hated it whenever McCartney recorded without the rest of the band — walked in with Starr, “you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife,” recalled engineer Ken Scott.
Appears On: The Beatles
In the very fine article, “The Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover: Faces in the Crowd,” by
The original “fifth Beatle,” Sutcliffe was a talented painter who played bass for the group before leaving to pursue a promising career as a visual artist—one that came to a premature end when he died from a brain hemorrhage in 1962 at age 21. Lennon, his closest friend in the band, asked to include him on the Sgt. Pepper’s cover. Yoko Ono has said that hardly a day went by when her husband did not mention Sutcliffe’s name.
Stuart Sutcliffe is the featured artist today
Monday, May 23, 2011
About the Cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The old Beatles are at left side, standing graveside, mourning their death. Legend is this signified when the Beatles realized they could no longer tour and play live dates. The crowds were too large, the noise was too great even for them to hear themselves playing, and the crazies and stalkers were rearing up.
So from this point forward, the new Beatles – shown front and center in their Sgt. Peppers regalia – became a studio band, safely nestled away in the Abbey Road studios.
Another reason for their departure from the stage. By 1967, the Beatles were creating music that was so electronically complex for the time it could not be reproduced live using the technology of the day.
This was the advent of post-production effects. For example, the rising orchestra-glissando and final chord for “Day In The Life” was produced by all 4 Beatles and George Martin banging on 3 pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the recording engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds, and the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.
This album cover was created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake. They won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts in 1968 for their work on this cover.
The celebrities and items featured on the front cover are (by row, left to right):
Sri Yukteswar Giri (Hindu guru)
Aleister Crowley (occultist)
Mae West (actress)
Lenny Bruce (comedian)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer)
W. C. Fields (comedian/actor)
Carl Gustav Jung (psychiatrist)
Edgar Allan Poe (writer)
Fred Astaire (actor/dancer)
Richard Merkin (artist)
The Vargas Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas)
Huntz Hall (actor)
Simon Rodia (designer and builder of the Watts Towers)
Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)
Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator)
Sir Robert Peel (19th century British Prime Minister)
Aldous Huxley (writer)
Dylan Thomas (poet)
Terry Southern (writer)
Tony Curtis (actor)
Wallace Berman (artist)
Tommy Handley (comedian)
Marilyn Monroe (actress)
William S. Burroughs (writer)
Sri Mahavatar Babaji (Hindu guru)
Stan Laurel (actor/comedian)
Richard Lindner (artist)
Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian)
Karl Marx (political philosopher)
H. G. Wells (writer)
Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (Hindu guru)
Sigmund Freud (psychiatrist) – barely visible below Bob Dylan
Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy)
Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle)
Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy)
Max Miller (comedian)
A “Petty Girl” (by artist George Petty)
Marlon Brando (actor)
Tom Mix (actor)
Oscar Wilde (writer)
Tyrone Power (actor)
Larry Bell (artist)
Dr. David Livingstone (missionary/explorer)
Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer/Tarzan actor)
Stephen Crane (writer) – barely visible between Issy Bonn’s head and raised arm
Issy Bonn (comedian)
George Bernard Shaw (playwright)
H. C. Westermann (sculptor)
Albert Stubbins (football player)
Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
Lewis Carroll (writer)
T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”)
Wax model of Sonny Liston (boxer)
A “Petty Girl” (by George Petty)
Wax model of George Harrison
Wax model of John Lennon
Shirley Temple (child actress) – barely visible, first of three appearances on the cover
Wax model of Ringo Starr
Wax model of Paul McCartney
Albert Einstein (physicist) – largely obscured
John Lennon holding a Wagner Tuba
Ringo Starr holding a trumpet
Paul McCartney holding a Cor Anglais
George Harrison holding a flute
Bobby Breen (singer)
Marlene Dietrich (actress/singer)
An American legionnaire
Diana Dors (actress)
Shirley Temple (child actress) – second appearance on the cover
Other objects within the group include:
Cloth grandmother-figure by Jann Haworth
Cloth doll by Haworth of Shirley Temple wearing a sweater that reads “Welcome The Rolling Stones”
A ceramic Mexican craft known as a Tree of Life from Metepec
A 9-inch Sony television set – the receipt is owned by a curator of a museum dedicated to The Beatles in Japan.
A stone figure of a girl
Another stone figure
A statue brought over from John Lennon’s house
A doll of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi
A drum skin, designed by fairground artist Joe Ephgrave
A hookah (water pipe)
A velvet snake
A Fukusuke, Japanese china figure
A stone figure of Snow White
A garden gnome
A euphonium/baritone horn
Paul and Stuart below
Frozen into myth by an early death in 1962, the artist and musician Stuart Sutcliffe is best known for his brief membership, between January and December 1960, of an early line-up of The Beatles. Sutcliffe was persuaded by John Lennon to buy a bass guitar with the money he received from the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, for the gallery’s purchase of his The Summer Painting (1959) in the John Moores Painting Exhibition that year. He then played with The Beatles (as the group were changing their name to successive variations of ‘Silver Beatles’) on their tour of Scotland, and during their first residency in Hamburg. In 1961, having met and fallen in love with the photographer Astrid Kirchherr, he enrolled at Hamburg State School of Art, as a master’s student in the class of visiting professor Eduardo Paolozzi. Showing exceptional promise as a painter, Sutcliffe died the following year of a brain haemorrhage, aged 21.
Since his death, and encouraged by the superior but romantically stylized biographical feature film Backbeat (1994), the assessment of Sutcliffe’s work as a visual artist has perhaps inevitably been contextualized almost solely by its position within the early career of the Beatles. The importance of this latest retrospective of his work, entitled ‘Stuart Sutcliffe: Retrospective’, curated by Colin Fallows and Matthew H. Clough, and of the substantial accompanying publication, lies in their scholarly review of his art on a strictly art-historical basis. A concise and revealingly chosen selection of work, from charmingly vivacious juvenilia made when Sutcliffe was still a pupil at Prescot Grammar School, through to the last big ‘black’ paintings that he was working on at the time of his death, makes a potent and persuasive case for a major reassessment of the artist’s legacy.
As detailed by Bryan Biggs in his catalogue essay ‘A Link in Something Larger’ (2008), the influences on the development of Sutcliffe’s art comprise a largely northern European nexus of ideas and examples – notably those of Nicholas de Staël and Pierre Soulages – as filtered first through the teaching culture at Liverpool Regional College of Art where Sutcliffe was enrolled. His interest, progressive for an art student of that period, lay in exploring the divide between abstraction and figuration. Biggs quotes artist and poet Adrian Henri’s summary of Sutcliffe’s painting style, from a review written in 1964: ‘a synthesis of Parisian abstraction [and] the dynamic colour field freedom of the New York School’.
The first room of this retrospective is devoted to establishing the artist’s earliest work, and his initial experience, from 1956, of art education at Liverpool Regional College of Art. These pieces include some lively early successes: a gothic graveyard scene made in a grammar-school exercise book; an ink and watercolour illustration to the children’s rhyme ‘Georgie Porgie’, in which a superbly indignant little girl scowls furiously at Georgie’s insolent embrace. Also included are irresistibly evocative ephemera of student life – such as membership cards to city jazz clubs – from the collection of Sutcliffe and Lennon’s flatmate, Rod Murray.
As recounted by the work exhibited in the second gallery, the shift in creative temperament from charming pastiche to emotional urgency is immediately apparent in Sutcliffe’s swiftly maturing and enquiring painting style. He moves rapidly through painting in the British ‘kitchen sink’ realist style of the mid-1950s, to engage instead with a temperament that Biggs astutely identifies as drawn towards the freedoms associated with artists connected to Art Informel – Wols, Henri Michaux and Jean Fautrier. Sutcliffe’s later paintings in oil on canvas are intently worked and thick with paint, in deft and fluid smears and dabs. There is a gathering intensity in the work that instantly declares itself – a searching through styles for a personal style, in which the process of investigation ultimately defines the emotional core of the work. One can also see the faint imprint of a more specifically British sensibility – of the work of Alan Davie, for example, William Turnbull or Patrick Heron. There is a complete absence, however, of Pop art influence; the temper of the work is entirely painterly, reaching for inner response as opposed to outer ‘cool’. Working with increasing assurance, finding his own style within intense, intuitive mark making, Sutcliffe’s media ranged from paintings in oil on canvas and monotype on collage, through to lithography and oil and collage on paper.
Three ‘black’ paintings, hung side by side, all Untitled and made during 1961 and 1962, create what feels like the aesthetic centrepiece and biographical destination of this retrospective. All oils on canvas, the surfaces of these paintings possess a near mineralogical density, as though charred matter in roughly tessellating patterns had become encrusted over the red underpainting, traces of which appear to burn through the compositions like glowing embers. In their presence, one felt that had Sutcliffe lived, his future as an artist of note –or perhaps of considerable importance – was already assured.
Sutcliffe (left) playing with George Harrison
|Birth name||Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe|
|Born||23 June 1940
|Died||10 April 1962 (aged 21)
Hamburg, West Germany
|Associated acts||The Beatles|
Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe (23 June 1940 – 10 April 1962) was a Scottish-born artist and musician best known as the original bassist for the Beatles. Sutcliffe left the band to pursue his career as an artist, having previously attended the Liverpool College of Art. Sutcliffe and John Lennon are credited with inventing the name, “Beetles”, as they both liked Buddy Holly‘s band, the Crickets. The band used this name for a while until Lennon decided to change the name to “the Beatles”, from the word Beat. As a member of the group when it was a five-piece band, Sutcliffe is one of several people sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle“.
When the Beatles played in Hamburg, he met photographer Astrid Kirchherr, to whom he was later engaged. After leaving the Beatles, he enrolled in the Hamburg College of Art, studying under future pop artist,Eduardo Paolozzi, who later wrote a report stating that Sutcliffe was one of his best students. Sutcliffe earned other praise for his paintings, which mostly explored a style related to abstract expressionism.
While studying in Germany, Sutcliffe began experiencing severe headaches and acute sensitivity to light. In the first days of April 1962, he collapsed in the middle of an art class after complaining of head pains. German doctors performed various checks, but were unable to determine the exact cause of his headaches. On 10 April 1962, he was taken to hospital, but died in the ambulance on the way. The cause of death was later revealed to have been an aneurysm in his brain’s right hemisphere.
Sutcliffe’s father, Charles Sutcliffe (1905 – 18 March 1966), was a senior civil servant, who moved to Liverpool to help with wartime work in 1943, and then signed on as a ship’s engineer, and so was often at sea during his son’s early years. His mother, Millie, was a schoolteacher at an infants’ school. Sutcliffe had two younger sisters, Pauline and Joyce.
Sutcliffe was born at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, and after his family moved south, he was brought up at 37 Aigburth Drive in Liverpool. He attended Park View Primary School, Huyton (1946–1950), andPrescot Grammar School (1950–1956). When Sutcliffe’s father did return home on leave, he invited his son and art college classmate, Rod Murray (also Sutcliffe’s roommate and best friend), for a “real good booze-up“, slipping £10 into Sutcliffe’s pocket before disappearing for another six months. The Beatles’ biographer, Philip Norman, wrote that Charles Sutcliffe was a heavy drinker and physically cruel to his wife, which the young Sutcliffe had witnessed.
During his first year at the Liverpool College of Art, Sutcliffe worked as a bin man on the Liverpool Corporation’s waste collection trucks. Lennon was introduced to Sutcliffe by Bill Harry, a mutual friend, when all three were studying at the Liverpool College of Art. According to Lennon, Sutcliffe had a “marvellous art portfolio” and was a very talented painter who was one of the “stars” of the school. He helped Lennon to improve his artistic skills, and with others, worked with him when Lennon had to submit work for exams. Sutcliffe shared a flat with Murray at 9 Percy Street, Liverpool, before being evicted and moving to Hillary Mansions at 3 Gambier Terrace, where another art student lived, Margaret Chapman, who competed with Sutcliffe to be the best painter in class. The flat was opposite the new Anglican cathedral in the rundown area of Liverpool 8, with bare lightbulbs and a mattress on the floor in the corner. Lennon moved in with Sutcliffe in early 1960. (Paul McCartney later admitted that he was jealous of Sutcliffe’s relationship with Lennon, as he had to take a “back seat” to Sutcliffe). Sutcliffe and his flatmates painted the rooms yellow and black, which their landlady did not appreciate. On another occasion the tenants, needing to keep warm, burned the flat’s furniture.
After talking to Sutcliffe one night at the Casbah Coffee Club (owned by Pete Best‘s mother, Mona Best), Lennon and McCartney persuaded Sutcliffe to buy a Höfner President 500/5 model bass guitar on hire-purchase from Frank Hessey’s Music Shop. Sutcliffe was versed in music: he had sung in the local church choir in Huyton, his mother had insisted on piano lessons for him since the age of nine, he had played bugle in the Air Training Corps, and his father had taught him some chords on the guitar. In May 1960, Sutcliffe joined Lennon, McCartney, and George Harrison (then known as “the Silver Beatles“). Sutcliffe’s fingers would often blister during long rehearsals, as he had never practised long enough for his fingers to become calloused, even though he had previously played acoustic guitar. Sutcliffe started acting as a booking agent for the group, and they often used his Gambier Terrace flat as a rehearsal room.
In July 1960, the Sunday newspaper, The People, ran an article entitled “The Beatnik Horror” that featured a photograph taken in the flat below Sutcliffe’s of a teenaged Lennon lying on the floor, with Sutcliffe standing by a window. As they had often visited the Jacaranda club, its owner, Allan Williams, arranged for the photograph to be taken, subsequently taking over from Sutcliffe to book concerts for the group: Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Sutcliffe. The Beatles’ subsequent name change came during an afternoon in the Renshaw Hall bar when Sutcliffe, Lennon and his girlfriend, Cynthia Powell, thought up names similar to Holly’s band, the Crickets, and came up with Beetles. Lennon later changed the name because he thought it sounded French, suggesting Le Beat or Beat-less.
The Beatles and Hamburg
Sutcliffe’s playing style was elementary, mostly sticking to root notes of chords. Harry—an art school friend and founder and editor of the Mersey Beat newspaper—complained to Sutcliffe that he should be concentrating on art and not music, as he thought that Sutcliffe was a competent musician whose talents would be better used in the visual arts. While Sutcliffe is often described in Beatles’ biographies as appearing very uncomfortable onstage, and often playing with his back to the audience, their drummer at the time, Best, denies this, recalling Sutcliffe as usually good-natured and “animated” before an audience. When the Beatles auditioned for Larry Parnes at the Wyvern Club, Seel Street, Liverpool, Williams later claimed that Parnes would have taken the group as the backing band for Billy Fury for £10 per week, but as Sutcliffe turned his back to Parnes throughout the audition—because, as Williams believed, Sutcliffe could not play very well—Parnes said that he would only employ the group if they got rid of Sutcliffe. Parnes later denied this, stating his only concern was that the group had no permanent drummer. Klaus Voormann regarded Sutcliffe as a good bass player, although Beatles’ historian Richie Unterberger described Sutcliffe’s bass playing as an “artless thump”.
Sutcliffe’s popularity grew after he began wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and tight trousers. Sutcliffe’s high spot was singing “Love Me Tender“, which drew more applause than the other Beatles, and increased the friction between him and McCartney. Lennon also started to criticise Sutcliffe, making jokes about Sutcliffe’s size and playing. On 5 December 1960, Harrison was sent back to Britain for being under-age. McCartney and Best were deported for attempted arson at the Bambi Kino, which left Lennon and Sutcliffe in Hamburg. Lennon took a train home, but as Sutcliffe had a cold he stayed in Hamburg. Sutcliffe later borrowed money from his girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr, in order to fly back to Liverpool on Friday, 20 January 1961, although he returned to Hamburg in March 1961, with the other Beatles.
In July 1961, Sutcliffe decided to leave the group to continue painting. After being awarded a postgraduate scholarship, he enrolled at the Hamburg College of Art under the tutelage of Paolozzi. He lent McCartney his bass until the latter could earn enough to buy a specially made smaller left-handed Höfner bass guitar of his own in June 1961, but asked McCartney (who is left-handed) not to change the strings around, so McCartney had to play the guitar upside down. In 1967, a photo of Sutcliffe was among those on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album (extreme left, in front of fellow artist Aubrey Beardsley).
Kirchherr was brought up by her widowed mother, Nielsa Kirchherr, in Eimsbütteler Strasse, in a wealthy part of the Hamburg suburb of Altona. Sutcliffe met Kirchherr in the Kaiserkeller club, where she went to watch the Beatles perform. After a photo session with the group, Kirchherr invited them to her mother’s house for tea and showed them her bedroom; decorated in black, including the furniture, with silver foil on the walls and a large tree branch hanging from the ceiling. Sutcliffe began dating Kirchherr shortly thereafter.
Sutcliffe wrote to friends that he was infatuated with Kirchherr, and asked her German friends which colours, films, books and painters she liked. Best commented that the beginning of their relationship was, “like one of those fairy stories”. Kirchherr and Sutcliffe got engaged in November 1960, and exchanged rings, as is the German custom. Sutcliffe later wrote to his parents that he was engaged to Kirchherr, which they were shocked to learn, as they thought he would give up his career as an artist,although he told Kirchherr that he would like to be an art teacher in London or Germany in the future. After moving into the Kirchherr family’s house, Sutcliffe used to borrow her clothes. He wore her leather pants and jackets, collarless jackets, over-sized shirts and long scarves, and also borrowed a corduroy suit with no lapels that he wore on stage, which prompted Lennon to sarcastically ask if his mother had lent him the suit.
Sutcliffe displayed artistic talent at an early age. Helen Anderson (a fellow student), remembered his early works as being very aggressive, with dark, moody colours, which was not the type of painting she expected from such a “quiet student”. One of Sutcliffe’s paintings was shown at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool as part of the John Moores exhibition, from November 1959 until January 1960. After the exhibition, Moores bought Sutcliffe’s canvas for £65, which was then equal to 6–7 weeks’ wages for an average working man. The picture Moore bought was called Summer Painting, and Sutcliffe attended a formal dinner to celebrate the exhibition with another art student, Susan Williams. Murray remembered that the painting was painted on a board, not a canvas, and had to be cut into two pieces (because of its size) and hinged. Murray added that only one of the pieces actually got to the exhibition (because they stopped off in a pub to celebrate), but sold nonetheless because Moores bought it for his son.
Sutcliffe had been turned down when he applied to study for an ATD (Art Teachers Diploma) course at the Liverpool Art College, but after meeting Kirchherr, he decided to leave the Beatles and attend the Hamburg College of Art in June 1961, under the tutelage of Paolozzi, who later wrote a report stating that Sutcliffe was one of his best students. He wrote: “Sutcliffe is very gifted and very intelligent. In the meantime he has become one of my best students.”
Sutcliffe’s few surviving works reveal influence from the British and European abstract artists contemporary with the Abstract Expressionist movement in the United States. His earlier figurative work is reminiscent of the kitchen sink school, particularly of John Bratby, though Sutcliffe was producing abstract work by the end of the 1950s, including The Summer Painting, purchased by Moores. Sutcliffe’s works bear some comparison with those of John Hoyland and Nicolas de Staël, though they are more lyrical (Sutcliffe used the stage name “Stu de Staël” when he was playing with the Beatles on a Scottish tour in spring 1960). His later works are typically untitled, constructed from heavily impastoed slabs of pigment in the manner of de Staël, whom he learned about from Surrey born, art college instructor, Nicky Horsfield, and overlaid with scratched or squeezed linear elements creating enclosed spaces. Hamburg Painting no. 2 was purchased by Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery and is one of a series entitled “Hamburg” in which the surface and colour changes produced atmospheric energy. European artists (including Paolozzi) were also influencing Sutcliffe at the time. The Walker Art Gallery has other works by Sutcliffe, which are “Self-portrait” (in charcoal) and “The Crucifixion“. Lennon later hung a pair of Sutcliffe’s paintings in his house (Kenwood) in Weybridge, and McCartney had a Paolozzi sculpture in his Cavendish Avenue home.
While in Germany, Sutcliffe began experiencing severe headaches and acute sensitivity to light, and Kirchherr stated that some of the headaches left him temporarily blind. In 1962, Sutcliffe collapsed in the middle of an art class in Hamburg. Kirchherr’s mother had German doctors perform various checks on him, but they were unable to determine exactly what was causing the headaches. They suggested he go back to Britain and have himself checked into a hospital with better facilities, but Sutcliffe was told there was nothing wrong with him, so he returned to Hamburg. While living at the Kirchherrs’ house his condition got worse, and after collapsing again on 10 April 1962, he was taken to hospital by Kirchherr (who rode with him in the ambulance), but he died before the ambulance reached the hospital. The cause of death was revealed to have been a cerebral haemorrhage, specifically, a ruptured aneurysm resulting in “cerebral paralysis due to bleeding into the right ventricleof the brain.”
On 13 April 1962, Kirchherr met the group at Hamburg Airport, telling them that Sutcliffe had died a few days before. Sutcliffe’s mother flew to Hamburg with the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and returned to Liverpool with her son’s body.Sutcliffe’s father did not hear of his son’s death for three weeks, as he was sailing to South America, although the family arranged for a padre to tell him when he docked in Buenos Aires. After Sutcliffe’s death, Kirchherr wrote a letter to his mother, apologising for being too ill to attend his funeral in Liverpool and saying how much she and Lennon missed him: “Oh, Mum, he (Lennon) is in a terrible mood now, he just can’t believe that darling Stuart never comes back. [He’s] just crying his eyes out … John is marvellous to me, he says that he knows Stuart so much and he loves him so much that he can understand me.”
The cause of Sutcliffe’s aneurysm is unknown, although it is believed to have been started by an earlier head injury, as he was either kicked in the head, or thrown, head first, against a brick wall during a fight outside Lathom Hall, after a performance in January 1961. According to former manager Allan Williams, Lennon and Best went to Sutcliffe’s aid, fighting off his attackers before dragging him to safety. Sutcliffe sustained a fractured skull in the fight and Lennon’s little finger was broken.  Sutcliffe refused medical attention at the time and failed to keep an X-ray appointment at Sefton General Hospital. However, in the comments section to an article in the New York Times, a posting under the name of Sutcliffe’s friend, Mersey Beat editor Bill Harry, claimed that Sutcliffe did not appear at Lathom Hall at the time Williams said the attack had happened. According to Harry, Sutcliffe’s mother told him that he had fallen down the steps from the attic room in Kirchherr’s house, and that Neilsa Kirchherr, Astrid’s mother, confirmed this. Sutcliffe’s sister Pauline later alleged that his death had been caused by Lennon; she claimed that Stuart had told her that he and Lennon were walking one day when Lennon attacked him unprovoked, and then ran away. She gave Paul McCartney as the only witness, although McCartney has denied this, saying “It’s possible Stuart and John had a fight in a drunken moment, but I don’t remember anything that stands out.”
Although Lennon did not attend or send flowers to Sutcliffe’s funeral, his second wife, Yoko Ono, remembered that Lennon mentioned Sutcliffe’s name very often, saying that he was “[My] alter ego … a spirit in his world … a guiding force”.
The Beatles’ compilation album, Anthology 1, consisting mostly of previously unreleased recordings from the group’s early years, was released in 1995. Sutcliffe is pictured on the front covers of both Anthology 1 and Anthology 3, in the top right corner. He is featured playing bass with the Beatles on three songs they recorded in 1960: “Hallelujah, I Love Her So“, “You’ll Be Mine“, “Cayenne” and “My Bonnie“.