Tony Sheridan And The Beat Brothers
Born Andrew Esmond Sheridan McGinnity in Norwich, England, TONY SHERIDAN is a legendary icon in the music world. Largely instrumental in bringing the “English Mersey” sound to the notice of the world, he brought Rock & Roll to Europe, literally opening up the market for this new, and to many– dangerous—musical form.
A natural musician, by the age of 18 Tony was appearing on the weekly British television show “Oh Boy,” where he established his identity as a singer-guitarist, becoming the first musician allowed to play an electric guitar on TV. (The BBC had previously banned them.)
For Tony Sheridan success came early—while still a teenager–appearing in London with Eddie Cochran, Marty Wilde, Conway Twitty, and Vince Taylor. Word of this exciting new young performer brought Tony to the attention of European booking agents, who offered him a contract at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg Germany. With his arrival, Hamburg became the “official” Rock & Roll capitol of Europe, and Tony Sheridan its hottest Rock Star. In Europe, Tony Sheridan was Rock & Roll.
After a hugely successful six month engagement at the Top Ten Club, Tony was offered—and accepted– a one year contract to headline at a newly opened cabaret, The Star Club, which quickly became Europe’s most important venue for Rock and Roll performers and music.
It was during this time—1960-1963—that Tony Sheridan was destined to be the ‘author’ of perhaps the most important chapter in the history of music.
As Europe’s most celebrated Rock & Roll performer, Tony had various “backup bands” that performed with him on stage. One of them he felt had ‘great promise,’ and took the time to mentor the Band’s members. They were known as The Beat Brothers, and The Beat Brothers were: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, & Pete Best (The word “Beatles” did not translate in German—except as a slang term for the male sex organ).
One night after a backstage fray, Tony Sheridan was forced to get rid of drummer Pete Best, and brought into the Band Richie Starkey (aka Ringo Starr), who had earlier worked with Tony but not with the Beatles. The ‘Fab-Four’—The Beatles - that the world would come to know and acclaim, “were born” that night in Hamburg, the end result of Tony Sheridan’s intuition and decision (as well as a quarrel). Tony Sheridan’s backup band, The Beatles, would go on to rewrite Musical History.
Tony Sheridan was signed to a recording contract by Polydor Records and producer Bert Kaempfert -composer of such hits as “Strangers In The Night.” For his debut album, Tony decided to use his backup band, The Beatles, who had been performing with him nightly.
The first recordings ever made by The Beatles were with Tony Sheridan. These first renditions, which appeared in their first album titled: TONY SHERIDAN and The Beatles, are now rare collectibles.
“TONY SHERIDAN and The Beatles” was a hit. And when English music store manager, Brian Epstein, offered The Beatles the promise of a new record contract— which required them all to return to England– Tony Sheridan wished them well and gave them his blessings. He had put several years of time and interest into George, Paul, John & Ringo, and very much wanted them to succeed. The Beatles took-up Brian Epstein’s offer, returning to London, and soon thereafter, World acclaim.
In 1964, as Beatlemania was building, the craziness of the news media was focused on anyone who had been a part in The Beatles success. Although Tony had played a pivotal role in their career, he also found the public hysteria being created very “off-putting,” and was far more interested in the Social & Political problems that the 1960s ignited. After extended touring with Chubby Checker, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry, Tony felt obligated to fulfill what he believed was his Social responsibility (which also allowed him to get away from The Beatles media blitz). Tony Sheridan put together a troupe of musicians to entertain the U.S. and Allied troops, in Viet Nam. In 1967 in Viet Nam, while motoring in the military zone, his crew came under fire. One member was killed. The news service Reuters reported that “British Rock star Tony Sheridan had been killed,” and his obituary appeared in papers worldwide (long before the days of faxes, computers & cell phones). Tony stayed in the Far East for 2 years, traveling between Australia & Viet Nam, entertaining the troops. For his services, Tony Sheridan was made an honorary Captain in the U.S. Army. (One of his most valued possessions is the U.S. Army Ranger cap he was presented with, which he sometimes wears on stage.)
Returning to the U. K., he appeared in England for a Command Performance. Tony Sheridan performed a program of his own original words & music, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra before a sold-out audience. Princess Margaret remarked: “Tony Sheridan should be locked-up in the Tower— because he is one of England’s great treasures.”
When Hamburg’s celebrated Star Club was reopened in 1978, Tony Sheridan was once again the headliner. But, this time he brought the TCB Band with him. His opening night was broadcast live throughout Europe via German television (something never done before). To support their close friend, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr made surprise and unannounced appearances with Tony at the opening.
Tony Sheridan is a consummate artist of extraordinary depth. In the film (and now on videotape) The Compleat Beatles, Paul and George both relate that: “all they learned musically, they learned from Tony Sheridan.” After 41 years, Tony still retains a close and very private relationship with George, Paul & Ringo.
Married and with a large family, Tony lives in Germany, and appears in concerts throughout the world, most recently in South America. He has never appeared in Concert in the United States. But that may soon change.
Tony Sheridan and Elvis Presley became friends during the time Presley was in the U.S. Army, and stationed in Germany. With the recording of this album, Tony Sheridan accomplished one more of his goals– to perform with the Elvis Presley TCB Band.