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At the height of Beatlemania, everyone was getting The Beatles’ mop top haircut. The same thing happened to a lesser extent when George Clooney rocked the Caesar in the ‘90s. The Beatles’ do came from an outside source. Original “Fifth Beatle” Stuart Sutcliffe’s fiance, Astrid Kirchherr did the mop top. Here’s how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and former drummer Pete Best adopted the style. 

The Beatles smile with their mop top haircuts wearing suits
Clockwise: George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney | George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Beatles historian David Bedford appeared on the Beatles City podcast on Aug. 23, 2020 to talk about Sutcliffe. Bedford was also in charge of Sutcliffe’s fan club. He explained how Sutcliffe’s hairdo, from Kirchherr, became the signature Beatles style. 

Astrid Kirchherr gave Stuart Sutcliffe the first Beatles mop top

Sutcliffe was The Beatles’ first bass player. While performing with the band, he met Kirchherr. Their connection was intense and immediate. 

“As well as being drawn to each other with this mutual attraction, there was an intellectual coming together as well between the two,” Bedford said on Beatles City. “Astrid had a lot to do with shaping the look of the Beatles. She was the first one to do what became known as the mop top Beatle haircut. She did that for Stuart.”

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison laughed at the mop top at first

The first few shows The Beatles played together, they did not have unified hair. Ultimately, all the Beatles, and later Ringo Starr, would rock the mop top.


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“At first, when he changed his hair from the quiff to this mop top, John, Paul, and George laughed at him,” Bedford said. “But then the end of 1961, John and Paul went to Paris to see Jurgen [Vollmer], they said can you cut our hair like that as well.”

The brief and tragic love affair of Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr

Sutcliffe left The Beatles in 1961 to pursue his art and engagement to Kirchherr. Sadly, they would not marry before Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage in 1962.

“They were just so close and so in love so quickly which is one of the tragedies of the stories, he was 21 when he died,” Bedford said. “He met Astrid on the very first trip when they went over in August 1960. It was only a couple months later that Astrid came into the club where they were playing. They just fell madly in love. Within 3 months they were engaged. So when all the chaos of the third Hamburg trip, when George was deported for being underage, Paul and Pete were deported for allegedly trying to burn down a club. John wasn’t involved with that bit but he was stuck on his own so Stuart stayed with Astrid and John came home.”