Chas Newby, briefly bass player in The Beatles, dies aged 81

24 May 2023, 12:01

Chas Newby with The Quarrymen in 2017
Chas Newby with The Quarrymen in 2017. Picture: Alamy

By Mayer Nissim

Chas Newby briefly replaced Stuart Sutcliffe on bass in 1960 before leaving the group.

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Chas Newby, a musician who briefly played bass in The Beatles, has died at the age of 81.

Newby joined the group in December 1960 when Stuart Sutcliffe decided to stay in Germany on the band's return to the UK.

Newby had been suggested by the group's then-drummer Pete Best, having previously played in Best's previous band The Black Jacks.

The bassist was on holiday from university at the time, and played a quartet of Beatles shows at the Casbah Club in Liverpool (December 17), the Grosvenor Ballroom in Liscard (December 24), Litherland Town Hall (December 27) and again at the Casbah on New Year's Eve.

The response from the fans at the gig in Litherland has been suggested as the first ever instance of what would go on to be called 'Beatlemania'.

While John Lennon had asked Newby to join the group on their return to Germany, Chas decided to go back to university instead.

Buskin with The Beatles #30 excerpt - Chas Newby Recalls the Birth of Beatlemania

Rather than search for yet another bassist, the fledgling Beatles looked among themselves for a replacement.

Neither Lennon nor George Harrison wanted to swap instruments, so Paul McCartney – who had previously played guitar and piano in the band – became The Beatles' new bass player.

"RIP Chas Newby, fill-in Beatle and fair chap,' said Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn on Twitter.

"He deputised for Stuart on a few dates when the Beatles returned from Hamburg the first time, end-1960, including the momentous Litherland date.

"Latterly he's been one of the Quarry Men too. A charming man, always a pleasure to meet."

Newby became a teacher at Droitwitch Spa High School and played in a group called The Rackets.

More recently, he joined skiffle group The Quarrymen. The band, which had previously included Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Sutcliffe, reformed in 1994 and has had a shifting lineup over the years since, usually made up of a core group of original Quarrymen.

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