50+ Years The Beatles … It All Began in Hamburg.
Many Sites And Venues Where The Beatles Got Their Start Have Not Changed Much. They Can Be Explored In Hamburg’s St. Pauli District.
Hamburg / Los Angeles, June 2013 – Beatles fans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the band’s first album “Please Please Me” this year; but it was in Hamburg, the maritime jewel in northern Germany, where the Fab Four began their career as the not so fab five, and recorded their first commercially released record, “My Bonnie,” on June 22/23, 1961. Thanks to a well-known night club owner who needed musical acts for his clubs in the infamous St. Pauli red light district, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best had come to Hamburg a year earlier. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hamburg made stars out of The Beatles, got them their signature hair style, and the Fab Four never tired of stressing how important those early days in the northern German music metropolis were. John Lennon confessed: “I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”.
Beatles fans visiting Hamburg can still explore the band’s stomping grounds in and around the Reeperbahn amusement district:
When the Beatles arrived in Hamburg on August 17, 1960, they moved close to the action at Reeperbahn, where they rented two windowless back rooms in the Bambi Kino, a now defunct movie theater on Paul-Roosen-Strasse 33. The house is now marked with a small plaque.
The Beatles first stop on the road to fame was the Indra Club, located at Grosse Freiheit 64(legend has it that Paul McCartney referenced the Indra’s street address when he wrote “When I’m 64”). The club’s owner, Bruno Koschmider, asked for one thing, and one thing only: that the boys put on a wild show. And John and company obliged. Starting on August 18, 1960, they played the Indra every night from 8:30 until the last guests, mostly prostitutes and their clients, had turned in for the night. It was a tough schedule, and after only 48 nights it was over – the club was shut down after neighbors complained about the non-stop noise. These days, the Indra is still in the night club business, staging live acts nearly seven nights a week. www.indramusikclub.com (German language only)
The Beatles moved on. Or more precisely, they moved to another club just a few houses down the block at Grosse Freiheit 36. Starting October 4, 1960, the Kaiserkeller, also owned by impresario Bruno Koschmider, became the new home for John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete for 58 engagements. The Beatles took turns with another group, “Rory Storm & The Hurricanes”; the drummer for that band was a certain Richard Starkey (aka Ringo Starr). The Kaierkeller still exists as a club today. www.grossefreiheit36.de (German language only).
When they were not performing, the boys could be found at their favorite watering hole, the Pub Gretel & Alfons at Grosse Freiheit 29, which still is a traditional neighborhood pub.
A memorial stone marks the location for the former Star Club, the most famous of all the venues where The Beatles played; it can be found in the backyard of the house at Grosse Freiheit 39. The club was destroyed by a fire in 1987.
The cover of John Lennon’s first solo-album, “Rock‘n Roll”, shows him in the entrance of Hamburg’s Jägerpassage 1 (currently under renovation), in one of the first ever professional photos taken of him.
In honor of the Beatles and to remember the band’s early days in Hamburg, the city in 2008 inaugurated the Beatles Platz square; a 100 feet in diameter, over-dimensional vinyl record at the entrance to the Grosse Freiheit street with life-size metal silhouettes of the five original Beatles. The band’s songs are engraved in the “tracks” of the base.
Hamburg’s Beatles sites can be explored on your own or by a guided tour on the Beatles Bus, which every Friday takes guests to all the important Beatles locations in St. Pauli. . A creative musical tour on the tracks of the Beatles is offered by guide Stefanie Hempel.
Even before the Beatles, Hamburg was known as a live music metropolis. To this day, the city sets the stage for up-and-coming bands and musicians, and hosts a score of live music events, including the Reeperbahn Festival featuring newcomer bands from all over Europe and the ELBJAZZ Festival staged in off-beat maritime venues around the port of Hamburg. .
More information on travel to Hamburg, guided tours, tourist cards and hotel booking in the St. Pauli area and beyond at www.hamburg-tourism.de/en
Comprehensive press kit and images available at Beatles in Hamburg.
Hamburg images can be downloaded at www.mediaserver.hamburg.de.
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