Wednesday, February 11, 2009


by Iain Hines

So the boys' first trip to Hamburg ended, sadly, with a deportation order slapped on them. Ridiculous, especially remembering their recent fan-worshipping trip to Germany when they played the conquering heroes role so well.

It wasn't until March, 1961, after much haggling and rowing with the Hamburg Police Chief, Herr Knoop, that the Beatles were allowed to return to the Top Ten. Peter Eckhorn still has a letter from Paul saying "Peter, please speak with Knoop as we can't return unless it's made O.K. with him." Paul added that he had a new amplifier "almost as big as me".

Back, then, came the Beatles for their return stint at the Top Ten. They appeared with Tony Sheridan who, meanwhile, had married a German girl, Rosie. They all lived together in a tiny garret flat, over the Club. Six Army-type beds made up the main furniture and there was always a party going on. Three washing lines, always weighed down by shirts freshly washed by various Frauleins. I guess it was best described as an off-beat Chinese laundry.

Then, one evening, top bandleader Bert Kaempfert arrived at the Club. He said he'd heard about Tony Sheridan and wanted to sign him for Polydor. So with the Beatles as backing group Tony recorded "My Bonnie" and "The Saints". Funny thing is that Brian Epstein wouldn't have met the Beatles but for fans asking in his store for this particular record.

Bert liked the boys, too. He gave them a recording date--they did "Cry For A Shadow", an instrumental, and John sang on "Ain't She Sweet".

On, then, to 1962, when I next met the Beatles I was with the Echoes, Dusty Springfield's backing group, and we were doing a week in variety at Chester. With Gerry Marsden, we ended up at the Cavern later, doing a show for old times sake. A young Indian singer named Roley Daniels had been on, crossed his hands over his chest and bowed when taking applause. At the Cavern, Paul did the same thing--and Roley didn't much like it. I had to step in and break up quite a row. . . .

By Christmas, 1962, we were all back in Hamburg. I was with a new band, the Carl Fenn Combo, but the Beatles were the opposition at the Star. Still the same ravers, but that little bit subdued. They gave me the impression that they were on the brink of something big. Anyway, there was a dispute with the management and John went on stage, wearing a toilet seat round his head. His way of registering a protest. There were plenty of other stunts, but I honestly don't care to write about them!

Ringo was with the boys by now. And that was the last time I saw the Beatles and the last time they played the club scene in Hamburg. But the local kids still think of them as "their own Pilzenkopfs". If they boys did go back to those still-swinging clubs in Hamburg, they'd be greeted as long-lost friends!

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