Sixty years ago, on the evening of August 17, 1960, five young Englishmen went up to the Indra Club stage in the red-light district of St. Pauli.
Nobody knows for sure which song the evening was launched by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best, but it is likely that rock and roll hit Little Richard, Jane Vincent or Chuck Berry. The audience would not have paid much attention to the poems.
The five musicians, who called themselves “The Beatles” shortly before leaving their hometown Liverpool, arrived the night before after a 36-hour journey on an old green Aston bus that included a ferry ride to the Netherlands.
Three of these five young people will become mass idols of their generation. Their influence on popular culture in the 1960s was enormous and is still felt today. But it was a long way ahead of them.
Hamburg is preferred over the Beatles
In Hamburg, where the work was hard and the wages were poor, they stood on stage for four and a half hours per day, and it lasted longer on the weekends.
The oldest of them, Stuart Sutcliffe, was just 20 years old, while the youngest of them, George Harrison, was 17. They did not speak German and slept in two windowless storage rooms by the men’s restroom in a movie theater. And they only get through the stressful days and nights with a variety of steroids.
However, this experience had a profound effect on the band, as John Lennon later said, “We grew up in Hamburg.” There they had to improvise, added new songs and developed a better performance on stage. And they began to work on their own songs, especially the talented songwriters Lennon and McCartney.
“But they didn’t dare to put their own songs on stage,” said Stephanie Hempel, one of Germany’s leading Beatles experts.
According to Hempel, they weren’t confident enough of themselves to aspire to be one of the biggest names in rock and roll.
That first stay in Hamburg ended in disaster when the group tried to terminate their contract to play in “Top Ten” (the top ten), a bigger and better club. The employer informed the authorities about them, and the minor Harrison was deported, followed later by McCartney and Best because they caused a fire in the cinema. Meanwhile, Sutcliffe fell in love with photographer Astrid Kirchhir and did not want to return.
Lennon played a few more nights with other musicians, then returned to Liverpool in early December, but began to have doubts about whether he was on the right track, and he did not contact his bandmates for a few days after his return. And that could have been the end of the Beatles, according to DW.
By April 1961, however, they had returned to the northern German port city, performing 92 nights at the Top Ten Club. “It was their best time in Hamburg,” said Hempel, who will hold a live event in Indra on the 60th anniversary that will be broadcasted all over the world via the Internet.
Hamburg was among the best places for live rock in Europe at the time. The increasingly professional group was playing in front of larger audiences. In 1962, they were hired three times for several weeks to perform at the new “Star Club”, and they performed in front of nearly a thousand people.
During their stay in Hamburg, the Beatles played a total of 1,200 hours on stage during 281 concerts, returning to the German city in June 1966 as world stars, and holding two concerts in the “Ernst-Merck-Halle” hall, shortly before they completely abandoned live performances. And transforming into a studio band.
For many years, Humble takes tourists on tours of Hamburg, which is where the story of the Beatles began. However, their legacy is inappropriately handled there. While the Beatles’ tourism in their hometown Liverpool has created 2,300 jobs, including tours, museums and memorials, Hamburg has little to show. The Beatles Museum only lasted for a few years, and the Beatles Square in St. Pauli was no longer lit at night. However, the city’s tourism marketing organization is participating in the team’s 60th anniversary show.
Of the five young men, who played at their first concert in Hamburg 60 years ago, two are still alive, Paul McCartney and drummer Pete Best.
One of them was a legend, while the other worked for years in a recruitment office in Liverpool, and was replaced by Ringo Star shortly before their resounding success. But he later capitalized on their success, when in 1995 the release of records of 10 songs he played in the early years of the team, Best earned a share of the proceeds and suddenly became a millionaire.
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