McCartney has confessed that he was jealous of Sutcliffe, the older boy, and no doubt Sutcliffe's image and artistic abilities intimidated him, as they had done Lennon. In Anthology, McCartney admits that his relationship with Sutcliffe grew particularly fraught, but Kircherr suggests it was more than that: "[W]hen Paul and Stu had a row, you could tell that Paul hated him". (Norman, Shout!, p. 90)
McCartney has always maintained that he never wanted the job as bass player, that he somehow got lumped with the job by the refusal of the others to take up the role. Harrison contradicted this, recalling that “[McCartney] went for it [the bass role]”. (Anthology)
Regardless, it seems that McCartney viewed Sutcliffe's departure as the best possible outcome for his and the band's collective gain – he was probably correct in his assessment. In any case, they did have options. Upon Sutcliffe's official departure from the group, Klaus Voorman, their Hamburg acquaintance who would design the cover of Revolver and play bass on numerous John Lennon solo albums, asked Lennon if he could take up the role as The Beatles bassist. Lennon turned him down telling him, "Sorry mate, Paul has already bought a bass ... ". (Mojo, 10 Years, p. 35)
It seems the allegations of Lennon’s attack (as well as the predictable and highly irrelevant claims that Lennon and Sutcliffe had a homosexual relationship) are little but hearsay. But, they do sell books.
We will never know the true cause of Sutcliffe’s hemorrhage. Kircherr was convinced that Stuart had an underlying condition that was lying in waiting. That condition was possibly exacerbated by Sutcliffe’s 24-hour lifestyle which has been documented by all those who knew him: tutors, musicians, lovers and friends. He simply worked too hard, too long, too intensely, smoked too much and ate and slept too little. In his last letters home, he confessed how doctors had labelled him a nervous wreck.
But what of Sutcliffe’s musical legacy? Was he the terrible bassist some would have us believe?
Certainly, starting out in early 1960 he was limited and struggled his way through the Scottish tour. However, it’s been well documented how the group went to Hamburg a "banger" (jalopy) and came home a Rolls Royce – the relentless hours on stage turning them into a rock 'n' roll powerhouse. If Lennon, Best, Harrison, & McCartney progressed as musicians, shouldn’t it also follow that Sutcliffe did too? In 1960 Sutcliffe himself wrote home that the group had improved a thousand fold since their arrival in Hamburg. (Lost Beatle, BBC 4)