Born Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity on 21 May 1940, Tony Sheridan held the distinction of having sung on The Beatles’ first commercially-released music.
He formed his first band in 1956, and two years later he appeared for the first time on the BBC television programme Oh Boy, on which he played electric guitar.
In 1960 Sheridan was offered a contract to play at Bruno Koschmider’s Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg, Germany, where he proved to be a hit with local audiences. In November that year he moved to the Top Ten, a club run by rival promoter Peter Eckhorn. Sheridan played at the Top Ten from 1960 to 1963, working originally with his backing group The Jets, and occasionally using a variety of other musicians.
The Beatles met Tony Sheridan during their first Hamburg trip in 1960, though they didn’t perform together. The next year, however, saw them alternating with Sheridan’s band, and occasionally backing him. Following one of these performances, a friend of orchestral leader Bert Kaempfert – also an agent for the Polydor label – recommended them for a recording session.
The single, credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, was released in October 1961, and reached number five in the German charts.
With The Beatles’ fanbase growing in Liverpool, demand grew for imported copies of My Bonnie. The buzz around the single inspired Brian Epstein to seek out the group, which he went on to manage.
On 24 May 1962 a fourth and final day of recording with The Beatles took place, again at Studio Rahlstedt, in which versions Sweet Georgia Brown and Swanee River were taped. Swanee River was later lost, but was re-recorded by Sheridan and another group in a Beatles style. Sheridan also re-recorded his vocals on Sweet Georgia Brown in 1964 to reference The Beatles growing fame.
The eight songs The Beatles recorded with Tony Sheridan were released on a 1964 album titled The Beatles’ First. Three songs from the session, My Bonnie, Ain’t She Sweet and Cry For A Shadow – the latter a Harrison-Lennon instrumental, were released in 1995 on the Anthology 1 album. Cry For A Shadow and Ain’t She Sweet, although recorded on the day of the My Bonnie session, did not feature Sheridan.
In later years Sheridan remained in Germany, living in the village of Seestermühe and regularly performing in Hamburg. He died in Germany on 16 February 2013 at the age of 72.