Susan's Reviews > The Beatles in Hamburg

The Beatles in Hamburg by Ian Inglis
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's review
Apr 14, 2012

really liked it

This is not the usual sensationalist book about the bands time in Hamburg, but a more serious, scholarly approach about what the city meant to them and how it influenced them musically and as performers. Although their time in Hamburg has been represented often, especially in film (Backbeat, Birth of the Beatles) most are less concerned with music than myth. Yet, in Hamburg, the band spent an estimated 800 hours on stage over 273 nights - playing at the Indra, the Kaiserkeller, the Top Ten and the Star Club.

This book examines both Hamburg and the band at the times they visited, including their first visit in which they started as a band that had played infrequently around Liverpool to audiences of teenagers, to a band exhorted to "Mach Shau!" to an audience consisting of gangsters, prostitutes, pimps and off shore sailors. It was on stage here that they learnt stagecraft, where they first properly met Ringo Starr (although they had come across each other, they first shared a stage in Hamburg when Rory Storm and the Hurricanes played with them at the Kaiserkeller). Although the first trip ended in deportation for McCartney, Harrison and Best, it was when they played again in Liverpool that the difference was plain to see.

Overall, this is a very interesting read - discussing reasons why Pete Best was eventually ousted from the group, the influence of Astrid, Klaus and Jurgen, friendship and influence of Tony Sheridan and later visits by the group after they became famous and as solo performers. This cuts out all the sensationalist stories and concentrates on the importance of Hamburg as a place where the Beatles truly became a world class band.

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