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Tony Sheridan, the British singer/guitarist who befriended the Beatles in Hamburg, died there on February 16, 2013. During the Beatles three-month stay at Hamburg’s Top Ten Club beginning in April 1961, the Beatles often backed Sheridan. When record producer Bert Kaempfert went to the club to check out Sheridan and the Beatles, he was impressed and signed Sheridan and the Beatles to separate recording contracts with his production company. This led to the Beatles first professional recording session, which took place on June 22 and 23, 1961. A total of seven songs were recorded, five of which featured Sheridan on lead vocals. The other two, Ain’t She Sweet and the instrumental Cry For A Shadow, were performed exclusively by the Beatles. An eighth song, Sweet Georgia Brown, was recorded by the Beatles as a backing track for Sheridan on May 24, 1962.

The first recordings released from the Hamburg sessions were My Bonnie and The Saints, which were released as a single in Germany on October 23, 1961, credited to Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers. Legend has it that Brian Epstein decided to see the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club after getting a request for the single at his NEMS record shop. After seeing the group in action, Epstein ordered 75 copies of the disc for his store and became the Beatles manager.

Other recordings from the Hamburg sessions were released in the U.K. and America after the Beatles became popular. Sheridan re-recorded his vocal on Sweet Georgia Brown to add the following Beatles reference: “In Liverpool she even dared to criticize the Beatles hair with their whole fan club standing there.”

Sheridan was 72 years old.

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