The Beatles Route around Hamburg
14 April, 2014
Hamburg is the city where John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best first started out, where they met and made their first recording. By walking through the streets of Hamburg, you can find numerous references to the time they spent in the city.
The time spent by the Beatles in Hamburg spans a period from August 1960 to December 1962. Back then, the city was the third largest port in the world and a bad reputation hung over it like a dark cloud. It was known as a city of vice, crime and prostitution. There’s no wonder why the parents of the English teenagers at the time did everything they could to convince them not to go.
Their first performance was at the el Indra club. The place has almost kept the same name but is now called “Indra, where the Beatles played first”. Find it at 64 Große Freiheit. A plaque by the door commemorates that event on 17 August 1960. Because nobody had heard of The Beatles back then, no record remains of their time at the venue.
When Indra had to close due to complaints from the neighbours, the Beatles moved on to playing at theTop Ten Club.Feeling very put out, the owner of Indra reported Harrison to the police (who was a minor at the time) and he was deported. One week later it was the turn of McCartney and Best to be deported for starting a fire after burning a condom in their room.
The city has also paid its own unique tribute to the time spent here by the Beatles with the Beatles Platz, a city square, but circular, meant to represent a vinyl record and where you’ll find statues of the five Beatles, including Stuart Sutcliffe who died on 10 April 1962 from a brain haemorrhage. On the floor of this square are inscribed the titles of some of the most successful singles released by the Beatles.
The musical career of the Beatles began here in St. Pauli. The composer, songwriter, orchestra conductor and producer from Hamburg, Bert Kaempfert *16.10.1923 +21.06.1980 and the music editor and lawyer from Hamburg Alfred K. Schacht *23.01.1916 +23.10.1990 discovered this band of young musicians at the Top-Ten-Club: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Tony Sheridan. They signed them up and, on 22 and 23 June 1961, the first vinyl recordings of the Beatles were released: MY BONNIE . THE SAINTS . WHY . CRY FOR SHADOW . AIN’T SHE SWEET…
Another of the venues where the Beatles performed during their time in Hamburg is the Star Club, also on Große Freiheit, and only a few metres from Beatles Platz. The place is no longer there but a plaque remains to commemorate the passage of the boys from Liverpool. It’s a little hard to find because you have to turn down one of the side streets leading off the main road.
The Star Club helped lift the band to stardom and was where the young group began to shine.
One day, back in 1960, five young musicians from Liverpool walked out on stage here at “Kaiserkeller” on Großen Freiheit. They were still young and rather rough around the edges, but Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe would soon become world famous as the Beatles. Sutcliffe died in 1962 and Ringo Starr took over from Pete Best in the same year. At the TOP-TEN club and STARCLUB, the Beatles were able to set out on a career path that would never be repeated.
The plaque was presented on 23 February 1990 to celebrate a party held here to remember those early performances by the group 30 years before.
Purely by chance, we headed over to Zwick at 1 Millerntorplatz for a hamburger. This place forms part of a chain of rock bars in Hamburg. Inside, they have a collection of very interesting photographs and posters featuring the Beatles. They play live music at Zwick and the place is decorated with a whole host of guitars in all shapes and sizes hung on the walls and in display cases.
Beatlemania was around until only very recently. The Hamburg Beatles Museum, with its thousand pieces and memories spread throughout the five-story building, closed at the end of June due to falling visitor numbers.
Do you fancy experiencing the Beatles Route around Hamburg? Book your flights here!
14 April, 2014