Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' maiden journey to Hamburg, Germany. It was in this rough-and-tumble port city that, through a grueling schedule of live performances, the band truly came into its own. John even once said that, though he was born in Liverpool, he "grew up in Hamburg." It's a very significant chapter in the history of The Beatles.
Below are excerpts from two articles that touch on the subject. Catherine Jones of the Liverpool Echo describes the experience of several bands in early 1960s' Hamburg, while a writer for The Local (a source for German news in English) goes on a tour of the city, detailing spots that played a part in The Beatles' multiple trips to the area.
Excerpt from the first:
Over the next two-and-a-half years the band would perform 281 gigs – at the Indra, Kaiserkeller, Top Ten and Star-Club.
There’s been debate over the years about just how important Hamburg was in the development of what became the biggest band in the world.
But the Beatles themselves have always acknowledged its impact.
“Hamburg was really like our apprenticeship, learning how to play in front of people,” said George Harrison.
Excerpt from the second:
When the Beatles rolled into the shabby dockland neighbourhood of St Pauli in a small van early in the morning of August 17, 1960, Hamburg’s post-war resurgence was just beginning.
That same night, the then Fab Five of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe, a raggle-taggle gang of leather-jacketed, pompadoured Scousers played their first gig at the Indra, a self-styled ‘music and vaudeville’ club. This tiny venue, at Große Freiheit 64, is still going strong today.
Fuelled by a heady mix of youthful enthusiasm, raw talent and Preludin pills, the nascent Beatles hurtled through an eclectic assortment of rock, pop, and R & B covers at high volume and breakneck speed. The boys bunked in a windowless cell behind the screen of a local cinema, the now defunct Bambi Kino, at nearby Paul-Roosen Strasse 33.