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Tony Sheridan

Tony Sheridan
Tony Sheridan performing live, November 2004
Background information
Birth name Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity
Born (1940-05-21)21 May 1940
Norwich, Norfolk, England, UK
Died 16 February 2013(2013-02-16) (aged 72)
Hamburg, Germany
Genres Rock, rock and roll
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, violin
Years active 1958–2013
Labels Polydor
Associated acts The Beatles
Website Official website

Tony Sheridan (Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity; 21 May 1940 – 16 February 2013) was an English rock and roll singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was best known as an early collaborator of the Beatles, (though the record was labelled as being with "The Beat Brothers"), one of two non-Beatles (the other being Billy Preston) to receive label performance credit on a record with the group, and the only non-Beatle to appear as lead singer on a Beatles recording which charted as a single.


  • Biography 1
  • Other 2
  • Death 3
  • Discography 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Sheridan was born in Norwich, Norfolk, where he grew up at 2 Hansell Road in Thorpe St Andrew and attended the City of Norwich School.[1][2]

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. He showed enough talent that he soon found himself playing in London's "Two I's" club for some six months straight. In 1958, aged 18, he began appearing on Oh Boy, made by the ITV contractor ABC, playing electric guitar on such early rock classics as "Blue Suede Shoes", "Glad All Over", "Mighty Mighty Man" and "Oh Boy!". He was soon employed backing a number of singers, reportedly including Gene Vincent and Conway Twitty while they were in England.[3] Early in 1960, he performed in a tour of the UK, along with Vincent and Eddie Cochran. On 16 April, Vincent and Cochran rebuffed his request to ride along with them to the next venue, but he thereby escaped the road accident which would leave Cochran dead and Vincent badly injured.[4]

Sheridan played guitar for Kaiserkeller" club in Hamburg, Germany. As fate would have it, his bandmates soon packed up and left Germany, but Sheridan remained behind.[5]

While performing in Hamburg between 1960 and 1963, Sheridan employed various backup bands, most of which were really "pickup bands", or simply an amalgam of various musicians, rather than a group proper. However, in 1961, the young Beatles (with their line-up at the time of Pete Best) who had met and admired Sheridan during their first visit to Hamburg in 1960, and who openly worked with him on their second visit, became even closer. The Beatles sometimes backed Sheridan, who, in turn, often joined the Beatles during their own sets backing them on guitar.[6]

When German Polydor producer/A and R man Bert Kaempfert saw the pairing on stage, he suggested that Sheridan and the Beatles make some recordings together. Kaempfert viewed Sheridan as the one with "star" potential, and though they signed the Beatles to play on Sheridan's records their contract with them stipulated that the four Beatles (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Best) only had to play on a minimum of two songs. Of the seven songs recorded during Sheridan's two-day-long sessions for Polydor in June 1961, it should be pointed out that at times the band behind Sheridan would be down to only two Beatles, and that conversely only on their two solo songs do all four Beatles play (minus Sheridan), while Sheridan plays on all of his tracks. These sessions produced Sheridan's "My Bonnie" and "The Saints", and the Beatles' "Ain't She Sweet" and "Cry for a Shadow" (formerly titled "Beatle Bop"), plus three other songs. Polydor's beliefs in Sheridan's coming stardom were so strong that they buried the two solo Beatle tracks until much later. Both John Lennon and Tony Sheridan swore that there were several other Beatle tracks that were recorded during the two-day session, but they have not resurfaced.[7]

In 1962, after a series of singles (the first of which, "My Bonnie"/"The Saints" made it to number 5 in the German chart), 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 one of the most expensive collectible 45 rpm with the black label in mint condition selling for $15,000 in 2007 and the pink label selling for $3000. Ringo Starr briefly played in Sheridan's backing band during very early 1962, before returning to Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr was reportedly unhappy with Sheridan performing songs he had not rehearsed with his band.[8]

Also in 1962, Polydor released the album My Bonnie across Germany. The word Beatles was judged to sound too similar to the Hamburgisch dialect word Pidels (pronounced peedles), the plural of a slang term for penis, hence the album was credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers.[9][10] After the Beatles had gained fame, the album was re-released in the United Kingdom, 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 many times.[11]

In the mid-1960s, Sheridan's musical style underwent a transformation, away from his rock and roll roots and towards a more blues- and jazz-oriented sound. Though these recordings were praised by some, many fans of his earlier work felt disappointed. This change was presaged by liner notes from his 1964 album Just a Little Bit of Tony Sheridan in which his musical preferences are listed as "jazz and classical" rather than rock. The liner notes also mention his wanting to visit the southern US "to hear at first hand the original negro music and experience the atmosphere that has been instrumental in creating negro jazz and the spiritual, for which he has a great liking."[11]

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. For his work entertaining the Allies, Sheridan was made an honorary Captain of the United States Army.[11]

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.[12]

In 1991, Joe Sunseri, Sheridan biographer and then-manager, completed Nobody's Child: The Tony Sheridan Story. However, due to a falling-out, the biography remained unpublished. A biography of Sheridan, titled The Teacher (ISBN 0957528507), was eventually published in 2013 by Norfolk author Alan Mann, a friend of Sheridan. On 13 August 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 Argentinian rock musician Charly Garcia. The album was called Influencia and it was released in 2002.[13] In 2015, Colin Crawley - another of Sheridan's bandmates, published another biography - Tony Sheridan - The One The Beatles Called 'The Teacher'.

Sheridan's musical legacy is carried on by his oldest son Tony Sheridan, Jr. who is himself a rockabilly guitarist/singer based near Orlando, Florida.


Sheridan lived in Seestermühe, a village north of Hamburg, and in addition to music, he was interested in heraldry and designed coats of arms.[14]


Tony Sheridan died on 16 February 2013 in Hamburg,[15] after undergoing heart surgery.[16][17]



  1. ^ "Who Backed the Beatles?". Something Books. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  2. ^ James, Derek (18 February 2013). "Leave your memories of Tony Sheridan, the man who taught The Beatles to rock". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Kozinn, Allan (17 February 2013). "Tony Sheridan, Colleague of Beatles, Is Dead at 72". Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Martin Duffy. Are You Tony Sheridan? (RTÉ radio documentary), 17 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Elmore Magazine - R.I.P. Tony Sheridan". Elmore Magazine. 
  6. ^ Cross 2004, p. 38.
  7. ^ "The Beatles with Tony Sheridan". Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Infosite,; accessed 19 April 2015.
  9. ^ Coleman, Miriam (17 February 2013). "Beatles collaborator Tony Sheridan dead at 72". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "One-time Beatles frontman Tony Sheridan dies". NME. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c "Tony Sheridan obituary". Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  12. ^ Laing, Dave. "Tony Sheridan obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Profile,; accessed 19 April 2015.
  14. ^ "Beatles mentor Tony Sheridan dies in Hamburg". (in German). 
  15. ^ "Hamburg: Beatles-Lehrer Tony Sheridan ist tot". Spiegel Online (in German). 17 February 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  16. ^ Laing, Dave (18 February 2013). "Tony Sheridan obituary".  
  17. ^ "Tony Sheridan, Colleague of Beatles, Is Dead at 72". New York Times. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Dave Humphries Entry". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 

Further reading

  • PayBack Productions (2001, 2002) About Tony, retrieved 28 December 2004
  • Sheridan biography, from Tony Sheridan's Website, retrieved from, snapshot of August 27, 2007
  • Daniels, Frank (1998, 2000, 2001) The Beatles with Tony Sheridan, retrieved 1 January 2005
  • Cross, Craig (2004). Day-By-Day Song-By-Song Record-By-Record. iUniverse.  
  • Thorsten Knublauch and Axel Korinth: Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand – Die Beatles in Deutschland 1960–1970. Books on Demand Gmbh: 2008; ISBN 978-3-8334-8530-5
  • Krasker, Eric. The Beatles – Fact and Fiction 1960–1962, Paris, Séguier, 2009; ISBN 978-2-84049-523-9
  • Mann, Alan. "The Teacher: The Tony Sheridan Story", Norwich, AMPS, 2013; ISBN 978-0-9575285-0-5
  • Crawley, Colin. "Tony Sheridan: The one The Beatles called 'The Teacher', 2015; ISBN 978-1515092612

External links

  • Tony Sheridan at the Internet Movie Database
  • "Are You Tony Sheridan?" – documentary from RTÉ Radio, Ireland
  • Alan Mann official web site of Tony Sheridan biographer Alan Mann.
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