The first song the broader world heard from the Beatles wasn't one of the pop-music gems that seemed to flow so effortlessly from the pens of
It was a Scottish folk song, "My Bonnie," a recording made in 1961 — two years before Beatlemania erupted. On that record, Lennon, McCartney,
Sheridan, 72, died Saturday in Hamburg,
Sheridan met the Beatles in 1960 in Germany when he was headlining clubs in the grittier parts of Hamburg at the same time the Beatles were honing their musical skills playing red-light district bars and clubs there. Soon he enlisted them as his backup band.
Upon seeing one of their performances, German producer Bert Kaempfert, who'd had his own No. 1 hit in the U.S. in 1960 with "Wonderland By Night," offered Sheridan the opportunity to record and to bring the Beatles in to play with him.
Those recordings were the group's first commercially released studio recordings, and included "My Bonnie," a rocked-up treatment of a song usually played as a waltz. It became a minor hit when re-released in the U.S. after the group's popularity exploded stateside.
Sheridan, according to later interviews, didn't even like the song but it was a canny choice by Kaempfert, who chose it with a German audience in mind, knowing that many German youths had learned "My Bonnie" in school during English studies.
Because the name "Beatles" sounded dangerously close to a German euphemism for male genitalia, Kaempfert changed their name to "the Beat Brothers" for the sessions with Sheridan, which also yielded one song with Lennon singing the lead vocal on the 1920s pop love song, "Ain't She Sweet," and one instrumental credited to Lennon and Harrison, "Cry for a Shadow."
"My Bonnie" was issued in the U.S. on April 19, 1962, making it the first recording featuring the members of the Beatles issued in this country, but it caused little stir. A week after the Beatles' first appearance on
Sheridan also helped introduce the Beatles to the music of seminal American rockers such as
"Tony was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg," Paul McCartney said in a statement issued Monday. "We regularly watched his late night performances and admired his style. He will be missed."
Tony Sheridan, who was born Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity on May 21, 1940, in
Sheridan made an appearance last year at a Beatles fan convention in San Diego, then returned to Germany where he recently underwent heart surgery.