Beatles 'mentor' Tony Sheridan dies

Tony Sheridan Sheridan played at the 50th anniversary of the legendary Hamburg Star club last year

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Ringo Starr has paid tribute to Tony Sheridan, an early supporter of The Beatles, who has died aged 72.

During their early days as the Silver Beatles in Hamburg in the 1960s, they performed as Sheridan's backing band.

Starr wrote on his Twitter: "Goodbye to Tony Sheridan... I had a great month 1960-61, playing with him was great."

Described as a catalyst in the Beatles' rise to fame, they played on Sheridan's recording of My Bonnie.

After being spotted by producer Bert Kaempfert, it was their first studio session for Polydor as The Beat Brothers in June 1961.

Later that year, teenage fan Raymond Jones requested the song in Brian Epstein's record store. Epstein promised to order it and later became the Beatles' manager, whom many still regard as the "fifth Beatle".

Returning to Germany in 1961, the young Beatles and Sheridan continued their collaboration and - at Kaempfert's instigation - recorded seven tracks.

The Beatles This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' debut album Please, Please Me

A 1962 show at the Star Club in Hamburg, where the Liverpool band played many of their early shows, was a watershed performance - featuring Starr on drums - and helped catapult the Beatles to fame.

According to reports in the German media, Sheridan died on Saturday 16 February following a long illness.

Sir Paul McCartney has issued a statement on his website. He said: "Tony was 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. He will be missed."

In the early 1960s, the singer-songwriter toured with rock 'n roll pioneers Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

He had German Top 10 singles Let's Slop and Skinny Minnie and with the Fab Four's early commercial success, My Bonnie charted in both Britain and the US.

During his later years, Sheridan lived with his third wife, Anna Sievers, in a farm house in the north of Germany. She died of cancer in 2011.

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