It came out of nowhere, but the news earlier this week that a song existed by former Beatle Stu Sutcliffe, who died in 1962, brought all sorts of questions. Where did it come from? How does anyone know it’s him?
Pauline Sutcliffe, Stuart’s sister, has provided us with some answers in this lengthy exclusive statement we received Wednesday. We’re running it as we received it:
“Steve, as far as we know for certain Stuart’s ‘Love Me Tender’ track was recorded in Hamburg, probably 1961, after Stuart officially left the Beatles to pursue his art.
“On one occasion we were told that it was a one-sided German Polydor acetate. Another source tells us that we have a copy from a reel-to-reel recording. We’ve also been advised that new instrumentation has been overdubbed. That of course you will understand happens when people tinker with recordings to, in many cases, enhance the voice.
“Anyone who knows anything about early Beatles history knows that ‘Love Me Tender’ was Stuart’s signature song. Karl Sydow, executive producer of ‘Backbeat’ (the theatrical production) has included it in his production. Nick Blood (who plays Stuart) does a memorable job at performing Stuart’s version of the song — which is to be distinguished from Elvis Presley’s version. We thought it appropriate to use Stuart’s original art work entitled, ‘Homage to Elvis’ on the cover for our release – Elvis was one of his heroes.
“We have had this recording in our possession for a number of years and did as much due diligence as we could beyond knowing that it is Stuart’s voice. Other opinions have been sought and there are as many no’s as yesses, but at the end of the day the family do know Stuart’s voice when they hear it — and this is Stuart’s voice.
“We have not been able to establish who is playing on the recording and in light of a view and a very sound one that the instrumentation has been fiddled with, this may be impossible to establish.
“What we do know is that in the last year of Stuart’s life as well as paint and write prodigiously, he also guested / gigged with other bands in Germany. There is a German publication that at this moment slips my mind – but I’m sure you can track it on the internet (they may have been called The Bats) and they talk about Stuart playing with them. (Editor’s note: See pdf link below.) More importantly we have two letters from Stuart in which, amongst other things, he discusses a film he is making and a sound track he is recording. Interestingly, neither of these have surfaced yet but watch this space.
“In the same way I never expected to receive this recording of Stuart singing ‘Love Me Tender’ because I was told the only recording which existed was locked away for ever by a private collector. You must know from your reporting over the years that there is always another huge surprise around the corner.
Yes, we have sat on this for a number of years waiting for the right moment. And they don’t get any better than this as a right moment. A knockout successful staging of ‘Backbeat’ in the West End of London / Duke of York’s Theatre; The Stuart Sutcliffe Fan Club headed up by David Bedford and Sherry Liscio; the “In Conversation With Stuart Sutcliffe” 50th Anniversary of his death art exhibition tour scheduled to open in April 2012.
Some would call this a perfect storm, but we call it serendipity.
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