John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe’s Attempt to Get Media Attention Got Sutcliffe Evicted

John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe spoke to reporters about their lives as students. Sutcliffe’s apartment association wasn’t happy with the story.

In the early 1960s, John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe began courting the attention of Allan Williams, a Liverpool promoter and booking agent. He didn’t initially think The Beatles were very good, but he needed a band to send to Hamburg. When he agreed to do this, it helped that Lennon and Sutcliffe felt Williams owed them. He brought them much-wanted media attention that backfired so spectacularly that Sutcliffe lost his apartment.

John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe accidentally got Sutcliffe evicted

Williams ran into Lennon, Sutcliffe, and his roommate at a local Liverpool bar. He had a group of people with him who said they were reporters with the Empire News. They were working on a story about how students lived. Lennon and Sutcliffe were enrolled in art school, making them the perfect subjects. They were also in a band and hungry for media attention, so they agreed to talk to the group.

They talked about struggling to pay for food and the drafty living conditions in Sutcliffe’s apartment. After sharing a few stories and drinks, Sutcliffe invited the group back to his apartment. It wasn’t the mess they made it out to be in their stories, but this wasn’t a problem for the journalists. They reportedly staged the apartment to look more like the students were down on their luck.

“They got newspapers, crumpled them up, threw them about haphazardly,” their friend Bill Harry said, per the book The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz. “Strew empty beer bottles everywhere. Made it look a dirty mess.”

They snapped a photo of Sutcliffe, Lennon, and Williams in the space. They ran it with the headline “THIS IS THE BEATNIK HORROR.” It described the terrible conditions in Sutcliffe’s apartment. Upon reading this, the building’s residents association evicted Sutcliffe.

John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe’s anger ended up helping the band

Lennon and Sutcliffe were furious with Williams. He’d introduced them to the reporters, and, in turn, they’d lost the apartment, a valuable meeting place for The Beatles. They demanded he repay them by taking their music seriously and giving them more consideration when he booked acts.

Williams agreed, so long as they found a drummer. They wasted no time in hiring Pete Best, and Williams secured them a spot in Hamburg. Here, they grew tremendously as musicians. Without their German residency, it is unlikely that they would have been as successful.

The Beatles’ bassist ended up quitting the band

Sutcliffe played a crucial role in getting The Beatles to Hamburg. He also helped name the band. Despite his important contributions, he was the weakest musician in the group. As they grew more successful, this became an increasingly pertinent problem for his bandmates.

Sutcliffe and Paul McCartney also did not get along. Tensions between them simmered until a blowout fight onstage. Not long after, Sutcliffe decided to quit The Beatles. He was a talented painter and wanted to nurture this talent.

He exited the band in 1961. The following year, he died of a brain hemorrhage.

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