Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stu Sutcliffe

Not much going on for the Beatles performance wise, so I thought I'd say a little about one of the group's lesser known founding members, Stu Sutcliffe.  When John Lennon, with a lot of luck, arrived in Liverpool Art College, he quickly made friends with one of her most promising students of the time, Stuart Sutcliffe.  Stu, very sophisticated for his years, seemed to understand that it is the artist's role to adopt an outsiders viewpoint in order to better see and reflect the reality of the world around him.  John, as was his pattern in all of his life, was drawn to the iconoclastic Stuart and they quickly became best friends.

Stuart was a slightly built, waif-like boy and the acerbic tough guy John became his protector.  Some of the letters that passed between the two of them provide a unique insight into their complex and close relationship.  When Stuart sold a painting after an art exhibition and was paid for a painting, John convinced him that he should purchase a Hofner bass guitar so he could share John's love of making music. There is some evidence that there was, at this time, some competition for John's attention between Paul and Stuart, creating a significant tension in the young Lennon's mind between the talented life stylist and equally gifted musician.

Stuart's contribution to the Beatles was not to be a musical one, he showed little talent for playing guitar.  None the less, his influence on John during this seminal period in the band's development was enormous, mostly from the perspective of the  approaches to art and style that the band adopted.

The official website of Stuart's Art is located here.  You can get a real appreciation of the truly experimental young artist he was by looking at his early, middle and later works.  June 23, 1940 was his birthday.

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