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Tony Sheridan: Beatles Hamburg Influence

By Alan L. Chrisman
Tony Sheridan, who influenced The first Beatles in
Hamburg, Germany died on Feb. 16, 2013. When the
original Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George
Harrison and Pete Best) first arrived in Hamburg in 1960,
the most popular entertainer there was Tony Sheridan. He
had a big musical and performing influence on them, and
on George especially, with his guitar playing. George said
Hamburg is where The Beatles learned to become the

Sheridan was one of the first English musicians to go to

Germany, after showing promise as a guitarist backing
several visiting American 50s rock n rollers to the U.K.
like Gene Vincent (Be Bop a Lula) and Eddie Cochran
(Summertime Blues). In fact, he just missed being in
the car accident that killed Cochrane and seriously
injured Vincent. Sheridan was already performing at the
Indra Club in Hamburg when the still very young Beatles
were sent there by their first Liverpool club
owner/manager, Allan Williams in 1960. And when the
Beatles (this time with Johns friend, Stu Sutcliffe, on
bass) returned to Hamburg for their second trip, they
were moved to The Kaiserkeller, the second club owned
by the same German owner. The Beatles became even
closer to Sheridan who was also performing there. They
would often share sets and back-up each other up on


Sheridan was approached by Polydor Records producer,

Bert Kaempfert, to record some songs from his set. This
became the Beatles first real recordings, although they
were mainly his back-up band for them and they were
called the Beat Brothers. With Sheridan, they recorded
My Bonnie and The Saints (Go Marching In) which
became a #5 hit for Sheridan in Germany. The Beatles
themselves also recorded though, two songs, Aint She
Sweet, with John on vocals and an early Lennon-Harrison
instrumental, Cry for a Shadow. But their experience in
playing with Sheridan was important in their development
as performers and in being in a professional recording
studio for the first time.
And according to legend anyway, these songs were the
ones that first brought The Beatles to their later manager,
Brian Epsteins attention, when a customer came into his
NEMs Record Store in Liverpool and requested the

recordings from this German group, The Beatles.

When The Beatles reached fame, Sheridan still continued

on playing and recording in Germany. But he moved
increasingly away from the early rock n roll music he
had first done and more towards jazz and blues
influences, deciding to remain out of the limelight, which
his former students were now in.
In the late 60s, he went to Vietnam and entertained the
troops there. In the 80s, Tony Sheridan came to Ottawa,
Canada and played a small club called The Glue Pot and I
still have a poster from that event. Later I met an Ottawa
musician, Joe Sunsari, who was Sheridans manager at

the time and he let me read an advanced copy of an

interesting biography of Sheridan he had written called,
Nobodys Child: The Tony Sheridan Story. But again,
Sheridan shunned publicity and it was, as far as I know,
never published. Also as Ive said before, Ive met Allan
Williams, the man who had sent the early Beatles to
Hamburg. And I met the sister Pauline, of Stu Sutcliffe, an
original Beatle and promising painter, who would die of a
brain hemorrhage shortly before The Beatles became
known. Pauline, co-authored the book on which the
movie Backbeat, which tells the story of their Hamburg
Days, is based. And Pete Best, original Beatles drummer,
was a guest at my first Ottawa Beatles Convention I
organized in 95. All of the above played important roles
in the fascinating Beatles saga.
Tony Sheridan with The Beatles ( Beat Bros.) backing, My
Bonnie, 1961: