John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe: "just" friends or something more?

John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe: “just” friends or something more?

Drawings and letters from the “fifth Beatles” previously kept by the late musician and painter’s sister, Pauline Sutcliffe, have been auctioned by Diane Vitale, custodian of the estate. Among the six hundred documents there is also an incomplete and unpublished story written by Stu and which talks about John Lennon.

Born in Edinburgh but raised in Liverpool, Stuart Sutcliffe was a schoolmate at the College of Art of John Lennon, with whom he was also a flatmate. Lennon and McCartney, who needed a bassist for their band (which at the time was called The Silver Beatles), convinced him to invest a prize money received for one of his paintings in the purchase of a Hofner electric bass, letting him join in the group and taking it to Hamburg. Sutcliffe was certainly not an excellent musician, but he had an image that impressed the public. After two residencies in Hamburg, Stuart – who in the meantime had become engaged to Astrid Kirchherr (the photographer who contributed to the image of the Beatles) – decided to stay in the German city and continue his art studies there; he died very young, just twenty-one, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

The very close friendship between Lennon and Sutcliffe has been the subject of speculation several times, and Pauline Sutcliffe herself, in her book “The Beatles shadow”, wrote:

“I always thought Stu and John were having a sexual relationship, but I kept that belief to myself so as not to upset my mother while she was alive.”

Now the discovery of a story written by Stu could shed new light on the issue.

Pauline Sutcliffe had already put the archive up for sale in 1999, but had not found a buyer who intended to purchase the entire lot. Pauline died in 2019, and Diane Vitale also confirms that the potential buyer will have to undertake not to waste the legacy.