On this day in music history, the man who coined the name “The Beatles” and later left the group to pursuit a career in art, died after experiencing a brain hemorrhage in 1962. Stuart Sutcliffe was just 21 years old.

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He’s been called “The Fifth Beatle” by music historians when, in actuality, he could very well be known as “The First Beatle” – since he was the one who thought up the name.

Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe was born on June 23, 1940 to a seaman named Charles and a teacher named Martha.

When he was growing up, his family moved around quite frequently, living in many different homes around the Liverpool area.

Stuart enrolled at Liverpool Art College in 1956 and met John Lennon just one year later in 1957.

In 1959, while Johnny and The Moondogs (John, Paul and George) played local venues around the city, Stuart Sutcliffe went to work on a piece of art he called the “Summer Painting” – which landed first prize at the biennial John Moores’ exhibition held at the Walker Art Gallery.

The painting was sold to the exhibition’s financial backer John Moores, and John Lennon urged Stuart to purchase a bass guitar with the proceeds and join his group.

Sutcliffe joined the group in 1960 but didn’t like the name whatsoever. He convinced the rest of the members to change it to “The Beetles” (sticking with the insect theme) as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets.

In July 1961, Sutcliffe left The Beatles to pursuit a career in art, enrolling at the Hamburg College of Art.

Sutcliffe suffered from debilitating headaches and temporary blindness for the remainder of his life, which was cut short on April 10, 1962 due to a brain hemorrhage.

He was just 21 years of age.

Stuart Sutcliffe aka “The Fifth Beatle” — June 23, 1940 – April 10, 1962


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