Stuart Sutcliffe, the so-called “Fifth Beatle” – or perhaps the “First Beetle,” since it was he who named them The Beetles – died at just 21 years of age, on this very day, in 1962.
The early Beatles’ unofficial style guru, Sutcliffe was revered by John Lennon from the day they met in art school in 1958. Lennon wanted Sutcliffe in The Quarrymen and when Stu encouraged him to change the band’s name, he did so without hesitation.
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On April 10, a day before the Beatles were due back in Hamburg to start their run at the Star Club, Stuart, who was living with Astrid’s family, took violently ill. Astrid was called by her mother to come home immediately. Sutcliffe was doubled up in agony and about to be taken to hospital by ambulance when Astrid got back to her family house. She cradled the diminutive figure in her arms but Stuart died en route to hospital. Doctors believed that it was a ruptured aneurysm that killed him.