The Beatles' Shadow: Stuart Sutcliffe & His Lonely Hearts Club

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Press:Trans-Atlantic Pubns Sidgwick & Jackson (December 2001)
Author Name:Sutcliffe, Pauline/ Thomas, Douglas


A poignant memoir of the forgotten Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, and a remarkable account of the early days of the world's most influential pop group. 
Stuart Sutcliffe is the most famous contender for the crown of 'fifth Beatle'.
One of the founding members, a close friend of Lennon, he left the band after their Hamburg sojourn in order to pursue his promising career as an artist, dying shortly thereafter of a brain haemorrage.
For years his sister Pauline has tried to protect his memory against the Beatles' need to sanitise their early history and now she is ready to tell the real story.
In doing so she sheds new light on their formative period - the rivalry with McCartney, how George Harrison tried to keep the peace, the truth about Stuart's intense relationship with Lennon and why Lennon was haunted by guilt over her brother's death.
And she describes what it was like for those like herself and Cynthia Lennon who have lived with the Beatles in their lives all their lives, although this was not of their choosing.
Drawing on her own memories as well as the many letters in her possession.
Pauline Sutcliffe shares her unique insight into the young men who became the Beatles.
But above all this book is a loving tribute to Stuart, who died at the age of twenty-one, but whose contribution to the Beatles lives on.

From the Publisher

Stuart Sutcliffe’s strange, sudden death in Hamburg at the age of 21 is now part of Beatles folklore, but his importance to the Beatles—he was one of the founding members and a close friend of John Lennon—has never been fully examined. 
Now, after 40 years, his sister Pauline, a prominent psychologist, talks openly about her brother’s life and death.
Drawing on her own memories, as well as the many letters in her possession, she gives us a candid and insightful portrait of the Beatles’ formative period, including the full truth about Stuart’s relationship with John Lennon and why Lennon was haunted by guilt over her brother’s death.
She also reveals her struggle to protect Stuart’s memory against the Beatles’ need to sanitize their early history.
This fascinating memoir is, above all, a loving tribute to a brother, whose contribution to the Beatles’ legend lives on.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Pauline Sutcliffe is a family psychotherapist and former social services manager. 
She is the executor of her brother's estate.
Douglas Thompson's most recent collaboration was The Truth At Last, Christine Keeler's bestselling autobiography.


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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     I love how Pauline states like 5 times within the first 20 pages that Stuart and John were in a relationship in the straightest way possible, she used the word 'intimate' so many times, I was laughing. Also Cynthia Lennon referring to John as "hers" was ridiculous. She was with John for 10 years, the last 2 years of it being in the gutter, and Yoko was with him for over 12. "Putting our boys to bed" itself is an awful way to word.I do love the photos of Stuart though.
  •     Though centered on Stuart Sutcliffe, I agree with the person several reviews down that this is still more a memoir than biography. Though this "memoir-y-ness" is a weakness at times, Pauline Sutcliffe does manage to create a better picture of her brother's short life than one usually finds in the typical Beatles biographies. She has the advantage of her own experiences, familial knowledge, information from Stuart's art college friends, his letters, and an interview with Paul McCartney.Pauline delves into Stuart's artistic background, his time at Liverpool Art College, his intense friendship with John Lennon, and how his friendship with Lennon brought him into The Beatles. Building upon information culled from biographies of The Beatles and those close to them, Pauline uses Stuart's numerous letters to illuminate his experiences in Hamburg. She quotes his letters extensively, and they chronicle everything from the rock and roll scene to the mundane to the meeting of his fiance, photographer Astrid Kirchher.She also writes a great deal about John Lennon and her theories behind his personality--her own psychotherapy background really comes through at these points, some of which make sense, others (including a very outdated psychological theory of homosexuality) not so much.The second half of the book falls a bit short, and resembles more of a family portrait. Once Stuart returns to Hamburg following The Beatles deportation and leaves the group to focus on his art, Pauline's information gets fuzzy. She vaguely pieces together this part of her brother's life through his and Astrid's letters, doctors' reports, and his rare visits home. Likely the richest source for these details would be Astrid herself, but she is not interviewed, presumably because of her fractured relationship with the Sutcliffe family. Still, otherHamburg sources--Klaus Voormann, Jurgen Vollmer, or any of Stuart's German art school friends--were left untapped. The focus shifts toward the Sutcliffe family and their worries and reactions to Stuart's declining health.The story, of course, does not end with Stuart's death: Pauline details the mourning process, her mother's falling-out with Astrid, and the battle for Stuart's art to recieve recognition separate from his Beatles connection.There is a near-chapter-long tangent in which the later years and deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Sutcliffe are described, and I felt that this was extraneous information that could have easily been left out--it detracted from Stuart's story.Despite all its memoir-y moments, I did enjoy this book immensely, and it does contain a wealth of new information on Stuart.
  •     I became interested in Sutcliffe several years ago when some documentary on PBS was aired, around the time Backbeat was in theatres. His art, his looks, immediately captivated me, and I had wanted to learn more about him. There weren't any books, and the only way you could read about him was through Beatles books rather than a stand-alone, and I wasn't interested in that. So, my interest in Sutcliffe's life fell to the backburner. Until recently, when I saw this book was going to be published in paperback.Written by his sister, it's advertised as a biography, but is clearly a memoir. To me, a biography is researched extensively with quotes from letters, interviews from friends and associates and whatnot. Not rememberances of how cool it was to have a Teddy boy ask you to dance at one of your brother's early gigs in Liverpool.That's problem number one with the book. Problem number two is apparently Pauline Sutcliffe is a psychotherapist who is smitten with analyzing her brother and John's life based on 40 year old memories, clearly prejudiced by time and death. And to make it worse, she's Freudian. Witness this line she wrote about her brother's relationship (she, as well as other biographers, assume that there was a sexual relationship between John and Stuart):"The origins of male homosexuality are supposed to be tied up with the relationship between boys and their fathers. Or the failure of that relationship in some way, or the boys picking up some ambivalence in their fathers and all sorts of messages. I am not convinced about such theories, but let's characterize John as a boy looking for a father's love.[...]"Here's what I knew about Stu before reading this book:- he gave the Beatles their name and look- he was a talented artist- he was friends with John- he met a blonde German girl- he died too youngAfter reading this book, here's what I knew about Stu:- he was a momma's boy- he gave the Beatles their name and look- he was a talented artist- he was friends with John- he met a blonde German girl- he died too youngOne day, I hope, a talented biographer will pen an excellent biography about this interesting fellow. Unfortunately this book is nowhere near that goal.
  •     Well I totally disagree with the previous reviewer. I think it is interesting to know, for instance, about John and Stuart's intimate relationship, and all the historical factual...
  •     There are at least 2 big problems with Pauline Sutcliffe's shocking revelation about John Lennon supposedly beating up Stu in Hamburg and kicking him in the head, ultimately...
  •     Excellent insight into early years when The Beatles were forming. Offers nice understanding of John Lennon's personality and dynamics between Stu, John and others, especially Paul.
  •     Quite interesting, explain in a simple way who he was, why he left and because the BEatles had to fix him to became the number one.

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