While 2013 celebrates the 50th anniversary release of the Beatles first album, Please Please Me, it was not in Liverpool where the band recorded their first record… It was in Hamburg, Germany.
The Fab Four got their real start with their first commercially-recorded and released record, My Bonnie, back in 1961. This was back before they were a worldwide sensation, when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best began were playing at nightclubs in Hamburg’s St Pauli red light district.
And they were crazy times indeed, with John Lennon even confessing: “I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.” www.mediaserver.hamburg.de/M.Boem
Long before they were making fans swoon across the globe, the Beatles arrived quietly in Hamburg on August 17, 1960. They rented two windowless backrooms at the Bambi Kino, which is today marked with a small plaque on Paul-Roosen-Strasse 33.
Their first gig in Hamburg was the Indra Club. The club owner at the time asked only one thing of them: that they put on a wild show. So they did – for 48 nights. However, due to noise complaints from the neighbours, the club was shut down and the band had to move elsewhere. That was only a temporary bump in the road for the club however, as it’s still putting on shows to this day.
Just down the block, the Beatles then started performing at the famed Kaiserkeller, which became their home for 58 shows. The Kaiserkeller still exists today and hosts many rock shows.
Of course, even the Beatles couldn’t rock n roll all day and all night. When they weren’t playing music, they could be found in the Gretal & Alfons pub, which is still slinging ale to this day.
However, no mention of the Beatles’ time in Hamburg would be complete without mention of their most famous venue — the Star Club. This building sadly burned down in 1987, but a memorial stone marks its location. www.mediaserver.hamburg.de/M.Boem
The band’s time in Germany can easily be explored by the wandering traveller and there are a handful of tours around Hamburg, including the ‘Beatles Bus’, which takes visitors on an organized and informative romp around the band’s stomping ground.