In article <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Knotts)
>Speaking of "real-life incident", how much of this moving is historic,
>and how much is fiction?
You want exact ratios of real to non-real? :-)
I can start off a list, just off the top of my head, but if you
want deep historical details, you might check Coleman's, Norman's,
or Davies' biographies of the group. A new volume about Sutcliffe's
life and work, "The Lost Beatle", by Alan Clayson and Pauline
Sutcliffe, has been released in England and should make its way
over here one of these days.
What did happen:
The Beatles went to Hamburg for five separate gigs.
Stuart Sutcliffe was the nominal bass player for two of those
gigs, though he quit either in December 1960 or at least by May
1961 (sources differ).
Stuart was not a great bass player. His talent was in abstract
The Beatles were not great musicians when they came to Hamburg.
Manager Allan Williams set up their first Hamburg gig.
Stu and John were close platonic friends, having met at art school
in Liverpool. There is no hint of a homosexual relatioship.
Paul didn't think much of Stu's musical ability, and criticized his
bass playing. They apparently had a fight on stage about it one night.
Both Paul and John teased and verbally abused Stu mercilessly,
though John in particular considered Stu a close friend. This took
place even on stage in Hamburg.
Astrid Kirchher met the Beatles at the Kaiserkeller, in the company
of her nominal boyfriend Klaus Voorman. She invited them all to her
mother's house for tea (all but Pete accepted), offered to take photos
of them, and began to introduce her other friends to the band. Her
English was very poor and at first her infatuation with Stu seemed to
take a back seat to her interest in the band as a collective group.
Astrid's relationship with Stu blossomed; Klaus remained a friend
and associate of the Beatles. Astrid's mum invited Stu to move in
with them in a posh section of Hamburg, rather than the dank cinema
where the Beatles had been residing. Two months after their meeting,
Astrid and Stu became engaged to each other.
Stu's art talent and his interest in Astrid made him consider
quitting the Beatles in December 1960.
George was deported from Hamburg on a technicality (being under
age) that same month; Pete and Paul followed, having been accused
of arson (they are alleged to have set a small fire, accidentally
*or* on purpose, in their unspeakable room behind the cinema).
-John left Hamburg too; Stu stayed on for several weeks and was
sent back to resume his schooling in Liverpool by Astrid, who paid
for plane fare (the Fabs had travelled by boat).
The Beatles played Litherland Town Hall, mistaken by many for a
German act. Their playing was much improved, and this was a turning
point for the band's career. Stu didn't appear; he was replaced on
bass by Chas Newby, a temporary player.
Stu played several gigs with the Fabs during a return engagement
in March 1961; he also attended (but did not play) the Bert Kaempfert
sessions with Tony Sheridan, during which "My Bonnie" and other songs
Stu fell down a flight of stairs at Astrid's loft in March 1961
and apparently sustained the head injury that latter led to his death.
Stu took up art college in Hamburg under mentor Eduardo Paolozzi.
Astrid continued with her photography, doing sessions with other
Beat groups who visited Hamburg from Liverpool. The Beatles made
several more trips to Hamburg.
Astrid and Stu set their marriage for June 1962, when he was set
to graduate. In April 1962, Stu had his fatal attack and died of
cerebral paralysis due to intracranial bleeding.
The Beatles did not attend his funeral, since they were booked to
play in Hamburg and the burial took place in Liverpool. John showed
little emotion over the loss of his friend, as was characteristic,
but asked for Stu's scarf as a keepsake, and later received one of
Stu's paintings as a gift from Stu's mother. Paul and George, in
particular, were said to be quite emotionally devastated by Stu's
There is no indication of rampant jealousy over Astrid between
John and Stu. Both John and Paul admitted to admiring Stu's choice,
but that's the extent of it.
John and Stu were not homosexual lovers.
John is not on record as insisting Stu pay attention to the band
rather than to Astrid.
The film dialogue is fictitious and recreated; don't take it too
There is no evidence that John and Stu were beaten up by toughs
in Liverpool, initiating Stu's headaches and blackouts. John did
get into fights on occasion, but no one incident involving Stu can
be cited as the source of his problems other than the fall down
George's mum probably never brought scones to George to take to
Hamburg. I doubt the Harrisons even ate scones. :-)
Oh dear...this list could go on forever....
"Backbeat" is a work of cinematic fiction based on fact. Don't quote
it as a source for real history, but enjoy it (if you can) as an
impressionistic interpretation of the times. It's no more valuable
as history than "Good Dog Nigel" is a tract for the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. :-)
"The Beatles' fame is beyond question. It has nothing to do with
whether they are rude or polite, married or unmarried, 25 or 45;
or whether they appear on 'Top of the Pops' or do not appear on
'Top of the Pops'."____________________saki (email@example.com)
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