Before Ringo, there was Stuart Sutcliffe. Artistic, dark, and handsome, Stu was the “fifth Beatle” – the one you didn’t know you didn’t know about (unless you’re of a certain age or pop culture knowledge level). Astrid Kirchherr is instantly drawn to Stu. An artist herself, Astrid is a big part of the Beatles’ time in Hamburg, snapping photos and giving Stu the bowl haircut that would contribute to the group’s image. But there’s a reason you may not know about Stu. Shortly after he and Astrid were engaged, Stu quit the Beatles and died within the year.
I’m not giving anything away. A. It’s nonfiction. B. Every blurb I’ve read gives it away. So why does it matter? And why would the author choose to focus on it? Hamburg is arguably a pivotal and formative experience for the band, and it also reveals a bit of their youth and inner lives from the perspective of an outsider.
ButBaby’s in Black , (the song which was written for Astrid) is a love story. It’s a brief story, but it shows the beauty and passion of two equally-matched, intelligent people. The artwork is top notch as well, a couple of the scenes mimicking photos Astrid actually took.
Pick up Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf if you’re into the Beatles, art, and/or love.
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