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Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe (23 June 1940 – 10 April 1962) was a British painter and musician best known as the original bass guitarist for the Beatles. Sutcliffe left the band to pursue his career as a painter, having previously attended the Liverpool College of Art. Sutcliffe and John Lennon are credited with inventing the name, "Beetles", as they both liked Buddy Holly's band, the Crickets. The band used this name for a while until Lennon decided to change the name to "the Beatles", from the word beat. As a member of the group when it was a five-piece band, Sutcliffe is one of several people sometimes referred to as the "Fifth Beatle."
When he performed with the Beatles in Hamburg, he met photographer Astrid Kirchherr, to whom he was later engaged. After leaving the Beatles, he enrolled in the Hamburg College of Art, studying under future pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi, who later wrote a report stating that Sutcliffe was one of his best students. Sutcliffe earned other praise for his paintings, which mostly explored a style related to abstract expressionism.
While studying in Germany, Sutcliffe began experiencing severe headaches and acute sensitivity to light. In April 1962, he collapsed in the middle of an art class after complaining of head pains. German doctors performed various checks, but were unable to determine the exact cause of his headaches. On 10 April 1962, he was taken to the hospital, but died in the ambulance on the way. The cause of death was later revealed to have been an aneurysm in his brain's right hemisphere.
Last Updated: August 29, 2017