Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beatle People: Tony Sheridan

Tony Sheridan (born Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity on May 21, 1940 in Norwich, Norfolk) is an English rock and roll singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as an early collaborator of The Beatles, and one of two non-Beatles (the other being Billy Preston) to receive label performance credit on a record with the group.


In his early life, Sheridan was influenced by his parents' interest in classical music, and by age seven, he had learned to play the violin. He eventually came to play guitar, and in 1956, formed his first band. In 1958, at 18, he began appearing on the BBC's Oh Boy, playing electric guitar. He was eventually offered a contract to perform at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, Germany.

While performing in Hamburg between 1960 and 1963, Sheridan employed various backup bands. In 1961, one such band, who had met Sheridan during their first visit to Hamburg in 1960, and who worked with him on their second, was The Beatles (with their line-up at the time as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best). When German Polydor agent Bert Kaempfert saw the pairing on stage, he suggested that they make some recordings together. In 1962, after a series of singles (the first of which, "My Bonnie"/"The Saints" made it to #5 in the Hit Parade), the record was released in America on Decca with a black label and also in a pink label for demo play. The record has the distinction of being the most expensive collectible 45 rpm with the black label in mint condition going for $15,000 (2007) and the pink label selling for $3,000.

Also in 1962, Polydor released the album My Bonnie across Germany. The word Beatles was judged to sound too similar to the German Pidels (pronounced peedles), the plural of a slang term for penis, hence the album was credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers. After The Beatles had gained fame, the album was re-released in Britain, with the credit altered to Tony Sheridan and The Beatles. The Beatles' Hamburg studio recordings, as well as some live recordings from the same period, have been reissued several times over the decades.

By 1967, Sheridan had become disillusioned with his Beatle-brought fame. As he was more concerned by the Vietnam War, Sheridan agreed to perform for the Allied troops. While in Vietnam however, the band that he had assembled was fired upon and one of the members was killed. Reuters reported that Sheridan himself had died. For his work entertaining the Allies, Sheridan was made an honorary Captain of the United States army.

In the early 1970s, Sheridan managed a West German radio programme of blues music, which was well-received. In 1978, the Star Club was reopened, and Sheridan performed there along with Elvis Presley's TCB Band.

On August 13, 2002, Sheridan released Vagabond, a collection largely of his own material, but also including a new cover version of "Skinny Minnie," a song he had years earlier recorded for his first album. Tony played guitar and sang for the Argentinean rock musician Charly Garcia. The album was called Influencia and it was released in 2002.

Today, Tony Sheridan lives with his wife Anna in Seestermühe, a village north of Hamburg. In addition to music, he is interested in heraldry and designs coats of arms.


* 1962: My Bonnie with The Beat Brothers/Beatles
* 1964: Just A Little Bit of Tony Sheridan with The Big Six
* 1964: "Ain't She Sweet" (side 1) with the Beatles, recorded 1961
* 1965: My Babe with The Big Six
* 1974: Live in Berlin '73
* 1976: On My Mind (private release)
* 1984: Novus
* 1986: Ich lieb Dich so
* 1994: Here & Now!
* 2002: Vagabond
* 2008: ...and so it goes by Dave Humphries; Sheridan plays on 5 of 11 tracks.


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