Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Can It Be?

April 11, 1962

The Beatles make the short hop over to Hamburg to start their third stay in the cradle of the Mersey Beat sound.  This time, thanks to their new management, they fly via commercial airline.  In another improvement in their professional lives, Neil Aspinall has quit his day job as an accountant trainee to become their full time road manager.  He's been getting more money that way than sitting at a desk and making entries into a ledger anyway.  He has had the Commer van ferried across to Germany in advance of their arrival.  They are contractually obligated to seven weeks with only one day off, Good Friday.

The Beatles and old friends Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann coincidentally find each other at the Hamburg airport.  At first the Beatles are overjoyed to see their old friends until they find out why they are there.  Astrid and Klaus are there to meet Stuart Sutcliffe's mother who is arriving on a different flight.  She is coming to Hamburg to claim the body of  her beloved son.  Stuart Sutcliffe, founding member of the band, and probably John Lennon's most intimate friend in the world, has suddenly collapsed and died.   He's been suffering from debilitating headaches for months now, but the doctors, using the techniques available at that time, could find nothing specific wrong.  Stuart died yesterday, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  John has a breakdown at the airport. Astrid says she remembers him sitting on a bench and rocking back and forth and alternately laughing and crying hysterically.  Pete Best weeps openly.  Paul, characteristically demonstrating concern for his friend, tries his best to comfort and console her.  It is an awful day to be a Beatle.  The death of a friend when the world seems so bright and the future so full of promise is unbearable.  Everything is coming apart at the seams.

Look at Astrid's wonderful photographs of Stuart here.

Without you, Stuart, there would have been no Beatles.  Rest in peace, friend.

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