Chas Newby, The Beatles’ “first” left-handed bass player, dead at 81

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Chas Newby, who played bass for The Beatles several times in their early days, has died at age 81.

The Facebook page for The Cavern Club Liverpool, where The Beatles got their start, posted a message reading, “It’s with great sadness to hear about the passing of Chas Newby. Chas stepped in for The Beatles for a few dates when Stuart Sutcliffe stayed in Hamburg…interestingly, he was also the first left-handed bass guitarist in The Beatles.”

In case you’re not up on your Beatles minutiae, when the band first started, it was John Lennon‘s art-school friend Stu Sutcliffe who played the bass; Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison all played guitar. Paying tribute to Newby, noted Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn explained on Twitter that the late bass player “deputized for Stuart on a few dates when the Beatles returned from Hamburg the first time, end-1960” and called him “a charming man, always a pleasure to meet.”

According to The Mirror, John wanted Newby to go on a tour with them to West Germany, but Newby decided to go back to school instead. Sutcliffe officially left the band in 1961, and since neither John nor George wanted to play the bass, Paul — who is, of course, also left-handed — took over the instrument, becoming the group’s second left-handed bass player.

Meanwhile, Newby became a math teacher.

Roag Best, brother of original Beatles drummer Pete Bestwrote on Facebook, “Both Pete and I and the whole Best family absolutely devastated to hear the very sad news with regards to one of the families closest friends Chas Newby passing last night.”

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