“I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”
– John Lennon
Their musicianship and their confidence as performers were both enhanced.
They also met a group of artists in Hamburg who had an impact on their clothing and hairstyle.
Artist Klaus Voormann discovered the Beatles when they were playing at the Kaiserkeller club in Hamburg in 1960. He immediately brought his friend, photographer Astrid Kirchherr, to hear the Beatles play.
Astrid, Klaus, and another photographer, Jurgen Vollmer formed a tight-knit friendship with the Beatles while they were in Hamburg.
Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid (pictured above) became a couple, which led Stu to quit the Beatles and stay with Astrid in Hamburg.
DAYTRIPPIN’ MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE: Read the article “Astrid Kirchherr shares memories of Beatles in early days” in Issue #1 of Daytrippin’ Magazine (available in PDF format or hard copy)
Visit Daytrippin’ Back Issues page for more information
Astrid Kirchherr’s Photos
of The Beatles
Astrid was the first photographer to take professional quality photos of the Beatles. Her famous black and white portraits show The Beatles dressed in leather jackets and pants–quite different from the Edwardian suits they wore when they became famous.
Astrid also influenced Stu on wearing collarless jackets and the infamous “bowl” haircut, which in turn influenced the rest of the Beatles to adopt this unique style.
This is an example of how being open-minded and taking a risk was beneficial for the Beatles in the long run and helped them to stand out from the crowd.
Pete Best was the only one not to adopt the “Beatle” haircut.
Jurgen took the photo that appeared on the cover of John’s 1975 album Rock ‘n’ Roll.
A paperback of Astrid’s photos was published in 2011. Read a review of “Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective“.
For further information on the Hamburg days, watch the movie Backbeat.
Note: Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann and Jurgen Vollmer have all released beautiful, limited edition, high-quality books of their photos and artwork of the Beatles through Genesis Publications.
The Beatles Live at the Star Club
in Hamburg, Germany
The Beatles returned to Hamburg for yet another gig this time at the new Star Club in April 1962. But when they arrived, they discovered the horrible news that former bandmate, Stu Sutcliffe, had died from a brain hemorrhage.
Stu was only 21 when he died, but his paintings and connection to the Beatles still remain an important part of the Beatles history.
For more information on Stuart Sutcliffe, read “Stuart Sutcliffe: A Retrospective”
Meanwhile, at the Star Club, yet another piece of fate fell into place.
Occasionally, the Beatles had a young keyboardist from Liverpool, Roy Young, play with them in Hamburg. Roy was known as England’s “Little Richard” because of his strong voice and keyboard abilities.
Roy claims that Brian Epstein actually made him an offer to join the Beatles in 1962. But Roy had a great gig going in Hamburg and with the unknown fate of the Beatles, he turned it down.
Imagine how the history of the Beatles would have changed if they had a keyboardist as a member!
DAYTRIPPIN’ MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE: For more information on Roy Young, read Daytrippin’ Magazine’s “Exclusive Interview with the Unknown ‘Fifth’ Beatle: Roy Young” in Issue #3 of Daytrippin’ Magazine (available in PDF format only)
Visit Daytrippin’ Back Issues page for more information
After playing on and off for two years both in Hamburg and Liverpool, the Beatles were at the top of their game as live performers.
John would constantly reminisce at how the shows in Hamburg were the best shows he believed the Beatles performed together, even after they became megastars.
The Beatles’ proved they had a work ethic during their Hamburg days. Even though they were young, carefree and partying day and night, they were committed to sticking together as a group and improving their performance as much as possible.
Very few bands are put to this kind of rigorous test in their career. This unique experience paid off for the Beatles for years to come. It solidified them as musicians, gave them stage presence and confidence, and brought John, Paul and George closer together on a personal level.
A rare recording of the Beatles performing in 1962 was released by Lingasong on vinyl in 1977 called “The Beatles Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962.” Different variations of these recordings have been subsequently released on CD.
Although the live Star Club recordings are comparable to bootleg quality and the Beatles tried to suppress their release, this is as close fans can come to experiencing the Beatles in the early days.
They wouldn’t return to Germany until three years later for their five-day concert tour. The Beatles’ 1966 German visit is chronicled in the book, The Bravo-Beatles-Blitztournee: Five days of Beatlemania in Germany, June 1966.
Hamburg dedicates new “Beatles Place”
A Plaza at the intersection of the Reepberbahn and Grosse Freiheit has been renamed “Beatles Place” (or “Beatles Platz” in German). It is black and circular to look like a vinyl record. In the plaza are four statues representing The Beatles. The project was initiated by a Hamburg radio station called Oldie 95. The official dedication ceremony was on Sept. 11, 2008.
Hamburg Music Clubs
The Beatles first played at the Indra club on Grosse Freheit in Hamburg starting in August 1960 with John, Paul, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best as their new drummer. They performed for 4-1/2 months during their first trip to Hamburg.
They would return several times over the next two years and, as their popularity grew, would play bigger clubs like the Kaiserkeller, the Top Ten Club and the Star Club.
Former Beatles Museum in Hamburg, Germany (2009-2012)
Hamburg Travel Links
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