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Early Beatles collaborator dies at 72

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Tony Sheridan, the British artist who used The Beatles as a backing group on their first commercial recording, died Saturday in Hamburg, Germany at age 72, several news sources reported.

Sheridan began playing with The Beatles when Pete Best was the band’s drummer and Stuart Sutcliffe was playing bass – before their best-known lineup was solidified.

During 1961 sessions in Hamburg, Sheridan recorded seven songs with The Beatles, including “My Bonnie” and “Sweet Georgia Brown.” At the time, The Beatles also recorded “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Cry For a Shadow,” the only commercially released composition composed by George Harrison and John Lennon.

My Bonnie” was released with The Beatles initially credited as The Beat Brothers, and it’s been reported that it was interest in that recording that made record store manager Brian Epstein interested in the group. He went to see them at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and eventually became their manager, remaining in that role until his death in 1967 at age 32.

In recent years, Sheridan claimed to have arranged for Ringo Starr’s first performances with the group. Starr, who was born Richard Starkey, had known Sheridan from Starr’s work with his pre-Beatles group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

On his website, Paul McCartney recalled Sheridan as “a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg.”

“We regularly watched his late night performances and admired his style,” McCartney said in a statement on his website. “He will be missed.”

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