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“Love Me Tender”, sung by Stuart Sutcliffe
In 1961, having left The Beatles, Stuart Sutcliffe wrote home from Hamburg to his family in Liverpool and told them about a couple of projects he was working on: one was a film he was making, and the other was a soundtrack he was recording. We know that Stuart played with other musicians in Hamburg, apart from The Beatles, and was involved in other projects, beside his art.
Stuart was also a talented singer, having been a regular member of the choir at St. Gabriel’s Church in Huyton, Liverpool, becoming the head chorister, leading the singing at Sunday services and weddings. In Hamburg with The Beatles, Stuart’s song was the Elvis classic, “Love Me Tender”, which he would often sing to his fiancé Astrid Kirchherr, as their love song.
Pauline Sutcliffe, sister of Stuart, has known of the existence of a recording of Stuart singing “Love Me Tender” for many years, but was told that it was in a private collection. However, in 2009, the recording, said to be made in 1961 in Hamburg, was donated to the Sutcliffe Estate. The family have held back the release of the recording for the right time: that time is now.
Interest in Stuart Sutcliffe has re-emerged with the successful stage show, Backbeat, in London’s West End, and the new Stuart Sutcliffe Fan Club being launched by David Bedford, author of Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles, and artist Sherry Liscio, plus the forthcoming In Conversation with Stuart Sutcliffe exhibition due to tour in April 1962, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Stuart’s death.
The song has caused an incredible surge in interest in the “fifth Beatle”, and examination of the song can not give a more detailed analysis of who Stuart recorded the song with, or the precise date. What Pauline can do is confirm that the voice is, without a shadow of a doubt, that of her talented brother.
“Stuart's ‘Love Me Tender’ track was recorded in Hamburg,” commented Pauline, probably in 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, though another source tells us that it was copied 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. What I do know, is that it is Stuart’s voice.”
The cover artwork is also an original by Stuart Sutcliffe, and is titled “Homage to Elvis”.
“Love Me Tender” by Stuart Sutcliffe is available from iTunes, Amazon and all good music retailers.