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Tony Sheridan: 1940 – 2013

William Leece on the singer who put the Beatles on track to the big time

Written by . Published on February 18th 2013.

Tony Sheridan: 1940 – 2013

IF anyone deserved to an honorary Beatle, it was Tony Sheridan.

He was the hell-raising rock'n'roller who took the young John, Paul, George, Stu and Pete under his wing in the Star Club in Hamburg and turned them into hardened pros. No wonder Paul McCartney called him "the teacher".

Listen to the recordings, the very first the Beatles ever made when there were five of them. Six if you count Tony Sheridan, who used the embryonic Fab Five as his backing band.

There's a raw quality that took a long time to resurface in the Beatles' output in the Ringo days. If they'd stuck with Sheridan they may not have hit the big times that they did, but they still had all the making of a fine r'n'b outfit.

But they went their separate ways and the rest is history.

He surfaced in Liverpool in the mid-1970s, in one of the most ill-starred concerts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra ever staged. As his backing band, they weren't a patch on the Beatles.

With his ability to work an audience, Sheridan found a good living entertaining American troops in Vietnam, well away from British based A&R men who might otherwise have given him a try-out on the strength of the Beatles connection.

He surfaced in Liverpool in the mid-1970s, in one of the most ill-starred concerts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra ever staged.

As his backing band, they weren't a patch on the Beatles. By the time the second half was under way, the Philharmonic blue-rinse brigade was voting with its feet, to voice its disapproval loud and long to the local press.

As a young reporter on the Echo, I had been sent to interview Tony Sheridan at his hotel the day before. I missed the appointed time, and arrived to be told that the press conference was over, but would I join him for lunch?

The convivial session that followed included, for reasons I have never fathomed to this day, the actors Jack Hedley and Rita Tushingham. It produced precious little printable copy for the paper, but may have been a factor in a far too lenient review I wrote after the concert the next day.

He went on to earn an honest as a journeyman rocker, still raw and exciting in live performances right to the end. He died, appropriately enough, in Hamburg where the whole story had started.

Albie Donnelly, of another veteran Liverpool/Hamburg act, Supercharge, recalled performing with Sheridan in his later years.

"We did a gig together with Georgie Fame in Stuttgart a few years ago," he said. "We all got on well and the concert was a gas. They broke the mould when they made Tony."

Tony Sheridan, rock n roller: 21 May 1940 – 16 February 2013

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Judith PattersonFebruary 20th 2013.

I didnt really know much about tony sheriden, i know the Beatles were asked to back him, and thats it.Why was he in germany?, what did he die of?.

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