Backbeat, the story of the 'Fifth Beatle', is back - and now booking to March 2012
Back in the early sixties, the Beatles were a five-piece skiffle/blues covers band featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best. Both Sutcliffe and Best legitimately lay claim to the sobriquet 'The Fifth Beatle' although in 1960, one or the other must have been the fourth.
The five-piece famously visited Germany regularly between '60 and '63, playing the smoky clubs of Hamburg and honing their style. It was during one Hamburg trip that Stuart Sutcliffe met photographer Astrid Kirchherr (who took some famous shots of the band) and fell in love.
The pair were later engaged and Sutcliffe began to feel more at home amid the German art scene than his native Liverpool and, in 1961, he left The Beatles. Paul McCartney picked up the bass and five became four. Subsequently, Pete Best would be sacked from the band and replaced with Ringo Starr, the 'sixth Beatle'.
Sutcliffe was never to fully appreciate the role he had in The Beatles as, just seven months after leaving - and before the band's late '62 breakthrough with 'Love Me Do' - he died. Sutcliffe's new passions had been art and his fiancée, and it was while studying the former in the home city of the latter that he started getting severe headaches and collapsed. After a brief recovery, he later died at Astrid Kirchherr's parents' house due to a brain aneurysm. He was just 21.
Sutcliffe's death is said to have haunted Lennon throughout his life but, for the public, the tale of the Fifth Beatle was a matter of backstory and a footnote to the headlines of Beatlemania, Sergeant Pepper, John and Yoko, Revolver and being 'bigger than Jesus'.
In 1994, the film Backbeat sought to shed some light on the band's pre-fame days and was an acclaimed study of the relationship between Sutcliffe, Lennon and Kirchherr with the inevitable musical soundtrack. The musical does not feature any original Beatles material however, focussing instead on the blues and rock'n'roll covers the band performed in the early days.
The tragic tale of Stuart Sutcliffe and the uplifting broader story of The Beatles made for a poignant, bittersweet tale that struck chords with audiences, although it was reported that neither Paul McCartney nor George Harrison liked it. One suspects John Lennon may have approved of his friend's tale being so affectionately told.
Seventeen years later, Backbeat is returning as a stage show, retold by the original writer and director of the film, Iain Softley. Backbeat premiered at Glasgow's Citizen's Theatre in 2010 and the production now moves to the West End in the autumn.
Backbeat is playing at the Duke of York's Theatre from 24th September 2011, booking until 24th March 2012.
We have tickets for all shows available now, priced £55 for weeknight performances and £57.50 for Friday and Saturday night shows.
You may be interested in
- Sun 27th May 2018 Beatles For SalePotters Pub (Newport)Buy Tickets
- Sun 27th May 2018 The DykeeniesThe Mash House (Edinburgh)Buy Tickets
- Wed 30th May 2018 to Sat 2nd Jun 2018 The RutlesBuy Tickets
- Sat 9th Jun 2018 to Fri 30th Nov 2018 Mersey BeatlesBuy Tickets
- Wed 13th Jun 2018 to Thu 29th Nov 2018 Camille O'SullivanBuy Tickets
- Fri 15th Jun 2018 and Sat 16th Jun 2018 Hampton Court Palace Festival, The Beach BoysBuy Tickets
- Fri 15th Jun 2018 to Fri 21st Dec 2018 The Bootleg BeatlesBuy Tickets
- Sat 16th Jun 2018 AnathemaHolmfirth Picturedrome (West Yorkshire)Buy Tickets
- Sun 17th Jun 2018 and Mon 18th Jun 2018 The Beach BoysBuy Tickets
- Sat 23rd Jun 2018 Imagine... the BeatlesThe Horn Reborn (St. Albans)Buy Tickets
- Fri 29th Jun 2018 Mike MasséUnder the Bridge (Fulham)Buy Tickets
- Sat 30th Jun 2018 to Fri 14th Dec 2018 The Upbeat BeatlesBuy Tickets
- Fri 27th Jul 2018 to Thu 25th Oct 2018 The Magic of the BeatlesBuy Tickets
- Sun 29th Jul 2018 Standon Calling, Bryan Ferry, Goldfrapp, The Horrors, Gaz Co...Standon (Hertfordshire)Buy Tickets
- Mon 3rd Sep 2018 to Sat 27th Oct 2018 Let It BeBuy Tickets
- Thu 6th Sep 2018 The Fab BeatlesAlexander's Live (Chester)Buy Tickets
- Fri 21st Sep 2018 Silver BeatlesHanger Farm Arts Centre (Southampton)Buy Tickets
- Sat 20th Oct 2018 The Cavern BeatlesPerth Concert Hall (Perth)Buy Tickets
- Mon 5th Nov 2018 The Askew SistersGreen Note (Camden)Buy Tickets
- Sun 2nd Dec 2018 Honey RyderFulford Village Hall (Stoke-on-Trent)Buy Tickets