Tony Sheridan

Born Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity on 21 May 1940, Tony Sheridan held the distinction of having sung on The Beatles' first commercially-released music.

Tony SheridanInspired by his parents' love of classical music, Sheridan learned to play the violin as a child, and later switched to the guitar following the rise of skiffle and later rock 'n' roll.

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 sessions took place on 22-23 June 1961 on a stage at Hamburg's Friedrich-Ebert-Halle school, and on 24 June 1961 at Studio Rahlstedt. The Beatles' fee was 300 marks.

A number of songs were recorded, including My Bonnie, which Polydor chose to release as a single in Germany. The b-side was The Saints, a beat version of When The Saints Go Marching In.

The single, credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, was released in October 1961, and reached number five in the German charts.

Tony SheridanWith 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.

17 responses on “Tony Sheridan

  1. robert

    The garage band I was in as a kid – like when I was 12 (1970) – we used to play and sing and perform “Take Out Some Insurance on My Baby” – people were like, “Where’d that song come from?” We’d tell them it was an obscure Beatles song – we felt very inside for knowing that tune. Thanks, Tony.

  2. The Walrus

    Rest in Peace, Tony. I’m happy to own ‘The Early Tapes of the Beatles’, which I picked up from a used CD store several years ago. Very talented man, big loss.

    1. tom

      I saw him many times in the *TOP TEN* and *STAR CLUB* in Hamburg Germany,I remember song’s like
      “skinny Minny” and “what I’d say”, he was part of the Star Club house-band with Roy on piano.Great loss.

  3. Bill

    Sorry to hear about Tony. I can’t believe Rolling Stone’s obituary. They’ve got a photo of Tony, stating that it’s from the 2 I’s, Soho, New York City. New York City? What the hell…?
    Also, they refer to the Beat Brothers as the “Beat Boys”. Incredibly sloppy journalism. Or is it another case of Rolling Stone trying to rewrite rock & roll history again?

    1. J Nagarya

      The further one is from the events, the further from the facts. The number of books about The Beatles by such writers only result in an increasingly high mound of dross, and the transformation of unfounded surmises into “fact”.

      It’s young writers who don’t know the history, and did insufficient research. No conspiracy.

  4. Guna Janez

    The one who recommended to Bert Kaempfert the Beatles for hiring them for recording session backing Tony Sheridan was a Croatian – then Yugoslav singer Ivo Robic, who had recorded for Polydor and was a true star of his own then having a world wide hit Morgen and was also the “hidden” author of Frank Sinatra’s hit Strangers In The Night.

  5. Robert S. Perks

    I’ve just been playing The Beatles album (featuring Tony Sheridan). What a great album to start a path of what was really a quite un-known band at the time,( The Beatles). Little did anyone know that the world was just round the corner. I have only ever played this album 3 times and the reason is to keep it as perfect as poss for someone of the next generation to enjoy as much as this one has. Tony Sheridan did a great job on the album and sort of help to make The Beatles be known to the awaiting world. What an unselfish man.
    Cheers mate, you must have earned a free ticket into the biggest concert in Heaven.

  6. Suzanne

    Tony used to live in my house, my elderly neighbour used to tell me about all the jam sessions which used to go on in the garden. In 2010 my neighbour saw Tony standing outside my home and he spoke to him. He asked if he thought we would let him have a look around, unfortunately we were in Barbados and my neighbour didn’t have a key. I e-mailed Tony and said when he next came over to contact me and have a look around, but sadly he passed away before ever making it back. Im trying to think of a fitting name for the house!

  7. Ron Buss

    I bought “In the Beginning” (1st US Polydor release) in 1970 3 months before the release of Let It Be. I was 9. I didn’t know what to expect, but having a warm spot for their earliest recordings fired up my fascination. The fact that 10 out of 12 songs were sung by Tony Sheridan did not disappoint me at all; mainly because of the strength of the material. He did it well with character. The LP had a timeless feel to it. Had I not read the liner notes, I would have never guessed it was recorded as far back as 1961. Most importantly, one thing leads to another, Without Tony working with The Beatles & having them as backup on the 45 My Bonnie, Brian Epstein would never have been asked or import that single. Thus Brian may have never been compelled to go to the Cavern Club & consider managing The Beatles. Without Tony, The Beatles may have been overlooked.

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