Stuart Sutcliffe dies

Stuart Sutcliffe, the brilliant young painter who was a bass guitarist with The Beatles in their early period, died on this day of a brain haemorrhage.

Stuart Sutcliffe

He had been suffering from increasingly severe headaches and blackouts since settling in Hamburg with Astrid Kirchherr, his German fiancée. The cause of these remained uncertain, though Sutcliffe believed they were a consequence of overwork.

In February he had collapsed during an art school class, and dropped out of education. The Kirchherr family suspected a brain tumour, and sent him for x-rays, although nothing amiss was found. Two doctors subsequently saw Sutcliffe but they too could find nothing wrong.

By March 1962 the headaches had grown in frequency, escalating at times to violent fits, and Sutcliffe often suffered temporary blindness. His moods were volatile, ranging from calm normality to suicidal mania. Most of the final two weeks of his life were spent in bed.

On 10 April Astrid Kirchherr received a call from her mother while working in her photography studio. She was told that Sutcliffe had collapsed once more and he was to be sent to the hospital.

Kirchherr rushed home to accompany him in the ambulance. Sutcliffe was already unconscious, and died in her arms during the journey to the hospital. The cause of death was listed as cerebral paralysis caused by bleeding in the right ventricle of the brain.

The precise nature of Sutcliffe's health issues has never been determined, and there has been considerable speculation as to the causes. One theory is that a blow to the head during a fight, possibly with John Lennon, led to the haemorrhage.

However, the lengthy deterioration in Sutcliffe's health make cerebral bleeding through injury an unlikely scenario. It is more probable that Sutcliffe died as a result of an aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation (AVM), both of which are congenital disorders.

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11 responses on “Stuart Sutcliffe dies

  1. Travis

    Poor Stu’, of course, RIP, but poor John, as well. First his mother in a totally random, accidental-but-violent-nonetheless way, then Stu, and then much later, his own violent end. How much tragic death had to surround this once in a generation talent? Especially as he really was such a voice for peaceful, non-violent, harmonious existence.

    I think Stu’ may have helped John’s already preexisting artistic leanings flourish (I mean, he was making the “Daily Howl” and things like that since he was a child and met Stu in art school), just as, sadly, Sutcliffe’s death may have brought out John’s also preexisting feelings of anger, cynicism and bitterness founded in things like his early childhood, Julia’s death, etc. Ha, all us John-o-philes think we’re like his personal shrinks, even 30+ years after his death.

  2. Tracy

    And do not discount the effect of John’s Uncle George dying also. George, who taught John harmonica and read to him as a boy, humorous George who cuddled John and was truly the one constant in his life as a young boy who was truly affectionate and a real father figure/pal to him whilst growing up at Mendips. The shock of coming home from vacation in Scotland and George is just gone, died and buried while John was away with other family. Probably the biggest blow of his life to lose the person who truly was there for him.

  3. Mike Hawkslarge

    John Lennon Killed Stu Sutcliff. Contrary to the story that Stu died of a congenital brain aneurysm that burst, He actually died from a blow delivered to his head when John Lennon kicked him in the head during a heated argument. John had a nasty temper and frequently flew off in violent rages. Stu suffered a subdural hemorrhage from that kick and died months later. CT scans and MRI’s were not available at that time, so they could not see or treat the injury as it unfolded. Because Stu did not die right away no one attributed it to the kick. John Lennon committed manslaughter and got away with it. In the end John got what he deserved. This is the true story you will never hear. A family member of Stu Sutcliff has given this information to select close friends and swears to it’s validity.

    1. Sir Huddleston Fuddleston

      He was also reported to have been kicked in the head by some Teds after a concert (or something) in Liverpool. Or neither could have happened. People have aneurisms all the time. We will never know. But think of Lennon: his mother leaves him, his mother dies, his Uncle George(?) dies, Stu dies, Brian dies. I’m reading The Beatles meet Elvis by Chris Hutchins and he claims that Lennon prophesied (he was reading about the Kennedy and Lincoln death coincidences) that he would die on the ninth of December.

  4. Joseph Brush

    This website is not a court of law, Michael, but your comments would find home in a kangaroo court where hearsay rules the day and character assassination of the dead prevails.
    One comment from you alone–“In the end John got what he deserved”–automatically reveals where your head is at.

  5. Johan cavalli

    Albert Goldman was far ahead 1988. What he wrote about the music and the relationship between Lennon and McCartney is brilliant. And he wrote the first music analysis of Beatle or Lennon music. Gold man was the first who wrote that up “to 1966, Lennon dominated the A-side singles”, and that Lennon was depessed because “everybody thinks it was all Paul and George Martin”, he told Allen Klein 1969. Goldman wrote about the cover to Sgt Pepper: An artist Robert Fraser contacted Peter Blake and Michael Cooper. Blake and Cooper made the cover. Then there was a discussion about the credits for it. Paul said, “No credits!” Then Robert Fraser persuaded Paul to acknowledge the work of Peter Blake and Michael Cooper. “Paul is very stingy about credits,” Fraser explained, “because he wants to give the impression that he´s done it all himself”. Goldman writes: The day was not far distant when that would be the correct impression. Of course McCartney didn´t like to read this. He condemned the book, because of what Goldman had written about Lennon´s sexuality and drugs. McCartrney is a tough PR genius. And as usual he wins: the establishment followed him and condemned the book. So the book got no influence. Goldman was too early. Up to this time all press people or music writers in the world thought McCartney was the only composer in The Beatles! and Lennon just a clown or as best a lyric writer. See a few examples about that: Current Biography Yearbook 1966, Ned Rorem in New York Review of Books,1968, Readers Digest 1968, Das Grosse Lexikon der Musik 1978, The status encyclopaedia in music, The New Grove 1980, writes that “In the beginning McCartney composed all music…” 1991 Peter Gammond in The Oxford Companian to Popular Music, put all Lennon compositions to McCartney. At length the book by Ian MacDonald “Revolution In The Head”, after much research, came 1994, with all about who composed what! Now many people discovered Lennon. As composer he dominated the singles, albums and films 1963-1966. Nobody knew and Lennon didn´t tell. And for many he is the greatest songwriter ever. But still after that, the public, press people and scholars think McCartney was the composer; in the cover to the record Beatles Go Baroque, 2000, with compositions from both Lennon and McCartney, it´s written that only McCartney was the composer. In “Oxford History of Western Music”, 2009, Richard Taruskin writes that McCartney composed Not a Second Time, Tomorrow Never Knows and A Day In The Life. And many books, despite MacDonald, hardly mention Lennon as a composer during the years 1963-1966. Today we know better about who composed what. But future scholars, or music writers, will read that literature and not comments on You Tube. So faults can last forever.

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