1962: Original Bassist For The Beatles, Stuart Sutcliffe, Dies At 21

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and John Lennon photographed in 1960 by Astrid Kirchherr. © Astrid Kirchherr / Getty Images

Stuart Sutcliffe, bassist for The Beatles before they were famous, quit the band in July 1961 and was dead of a brain hemorrhage less than a year later. Though the term "Fifth Beatle" has been misapplied to various people, it's appropriate for Sutcliffe, as the Beatles were literally a five-piece band while he was with them, with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best rounding out the lineup. These were the "greaser" Beatles, bumming around Hamburg, Germany, in their black leather jackets and jeans, and there was Sutcliffe, with his spiky hair and trademark Ray-Ban sunglasses. Sutcliffe, an art school student, left The Beatles to focus on painting, and might have become an accomplished artist had he lived.

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