Tony Sheridan, Early Beatles Mentor, Dies at 72

George Harrison, John Lennon and Tony Sheridan performing in 1960

Singer-guitarist Tony Sheridan, who famously used the Beatles as his backing band during their early days of playing clubs in Hamburg, died on Saturday following a long illness, according to German media reports. He was 72.

"Tony was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg," Paul McCartney said in a statement on his website. "We regularly watched his late night performances and admired his style. He will be missed."

Then known as the Silver Beatles, the group -- McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe -- performed occasionally with fellow Brit Sheridan in 1960 in Hamburg's red light district.

In 1961 the band (minus Sutcliffe) returned to Hamburg and recorded as The Beat Brothers on Sheridan's single "My Bonnie."

A year later, according to popular legend, a fan named Raymond Jones requested the song from a record store manager named Brian Epstein who later became the band's manager.

Other songs that the Beatles and Sheridan recorded together around this time, including "Ain't She Sweet," "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Nobody's Child," were included on the 1964 Atco compilation, "Ain't She Sweet: The Beatles & Other Great Group Sounds From England."

In 1962, the Beatles again returned to Germany to open up for Sheridan at the Hamburg Star Club, which featured Ringo Starr on drums.

"Goodbye to Tony Sheridan," Star wrote on Twitter on Monday. "I had a great month 1960-61, playing with him was great."

After the Beatles returned to England, Sheridan remained in Germany where he continued to perform.