Singer-songwriter Tony Sheridan, an early supporter of the Beatles, has died in Hamburg aged 72 following a long illness, German media reported.
Sheridan used the Beatles, then known as the Silver Beatles, as his back-up band when they played in seedy nightclubs in Hamburg's red light district in the 1960s well before numerous No. 1 hits made the British band famous.
Sheridan died on Saturday, Feb 16, Hamburg-based magazine Der Spiegel reported on its website, citing a post by the musician's family on social media website facebook. A search by Reuters found no such post.
The Beatles, then playing as "The Beat Brothers" also backed Sheridan on his song "My Bonnie" and Sheridan last year played at the 50th anniversary of the legendary Hamburg Star club, Der Spiegel reported.
A 1962 performance including Ringo Starr on the drums at the Star Club with songs such as "Roll Over Beethoven" was a watershed performance that helped catapult the Beatles to fame. They were Sheridan's warm-up act that night.
"Tony was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg," former Beatle Paul McCartney said in a statement on his website on Monday.
"We regularly watched his late night performances and admired his style. He will be missed."