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The Norwich man who helped to make The Beatles

PUBLISHED: 17:02 28 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:29 29 January 2019

Musician and singer Tony Sheridan performs during a show in Munich in 1963. The singer who performed with the Beatles during their early years in Hamburg, died in 2013

Musician and singer Tony Sheridan performs during a show in Munich in 1963. The singer who performed with the Beatles during their early years in Hamburg, died in 2013

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He was a rock 'n' roll wildcat in Germany and many musicians didn't have the courage to share a stage with him....then a group of lads from Liverpool joined him. Derek James reports.

Tony Sheridan and The Beatles in Germany in the early 1960sTony Sheridan and The Beatles in Germany in the early 1960s

His name was Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity...he was born in Norwich and The Beatles called him “The Teacher.”

“Tony was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg. We regularly watched his late-night performance and admired his style,” said Paul McCartney.

“The people of Liverpool always credited us with the Mersey Beat sound but it should have been Tony Sheridan,” George Harrison.

A guitar wizard. They used to say that he would make or break any musician who shared a stage with him. He helped to turn The Beatles into the biggest pop group the world has ever seen.

They made their first records as The Beat Brothers with Tony Sheridan and it was young George Harrison who called him The Teacher when they were playing together in Germany during the early 1960s.

It is all too easy to forget the influence that Tony had on other young musicians who would go on to become household names.

“The only guitarist worth watching in England is Tony Sheridan,” said a young Jimmy Page, then with Lord Rockingham’s band.

“He was a genius, a great guitar player. He influenced me a great deal,” said Gerry Marsden of Gerry & The Pacemakers.,

So just who was? He remains a man of mystery to many and he would refuse to talk about his complicated “private” life.

Tony was born in Norwich in 1940. He went to Bignold Infants School (Crooks Place) and then the City of Norwich School.

He played the violin in the school orchestra then took the school instrument to a pawn shop and emerged with a battered old guitar. “I was being trained in classical music. Nothing else was allowed – it was very restrictive,” explained Tony.

Tony was the lighting light of The Saints skiffle group in Thorpe. “Skiffle turned me on so I got rid of my pimples, got my guitar and headed off down the All to the bright lights,” he added.

He headed for the 2i’s coffee bar in Soho and then was the start of his musical career. He turned down the chance to join The Drifters (later The Shadows), was the first man to live the electric guitar live on TV (Oh Boy) and was on the tour with Gene Vincent and Eddie Crochran when Eddie was killed.

Tony then headed for Germany and the bright lights of Hamburg where he became the king of rock ‘n’ roll...and The Teacher.

He later returned to Norwich to play at the Evening News Golden Years charity gigs at the UEA.

The man who described himself as a “wandering minstrel” died in 2013.

Look out for a book written by a school friend Alan Mann called “The Teacher: The Tony Sheridan Story,” read about him on the internet and tune into My Bonnie if you can get it up on line. No more words needed...just listen.

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