The Beatles arrive in Hamburg

On August 17th 1960, The Beatles arrived in Hamburg with their new drummer Pete Best. This was the band's first overseas gig, and would have a massive impact on the early development of the group's sound and look.

They played 48 nights at the Indra Club on the Grosse Freiheit street. It was a tough slog for the boys, playing four and a half hours every weeknight and six hours on Saturdays and Sundays. 

The exhaustion of playing through the long hours found the band taking to amphetamines just to keep up with it all. They were paid 30DM (£2.50) per person for each day's performance.

"It was Hamburg that did it. That's where we really developed. To get the Germans going and keep it up for twelve hours at a time we really had to hammer. We would never have developed as much if we'd stayed at home. We had to try anything that came into our heads in Hamburg. There was nobody to copy from. We played what we liked best and the Germans liked it as long as it was loud." - John Lennon
"Of course, on the first night we got there there weren't arrangements for anything. The club owner, Bruno Koschmider, drove us round to his house, and we ended up staying, all in the one bed. Bruno wasn't with us, fortunately, he left us to stay in his flat for the first night and went somewhere else. Eventually he put us in the back of a little cinema, the Bambi Kino, at the very end of a street called the Grosse Freiheit.

Bruno wasn't some young rock'n'roll entrepreneur, he was an old guy who had been crippled in the war. He had a limp and didn't seem to know much about music or anything. We only ever saw him once a week, when we'd try to get into his office for our wages.

The city of Hamburg was brilliant; a big lake, and then the dirty part. The Reeperbahn and Grosse Freiheit were the best thing we'd ever seen, clubs and neon lights everywhere and lots of restaurants and entertainment. It looked really good. There were seedy things about it, obviously, including some of the conditions we had to live in when we first got there." - George Harrison

 The Beatles in Hamburg at the Indra Club with Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe, August 17th 1960. 

The Beatles in Hamburg at the Indra Club with Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe, August 17th 1960. 

The Beatles deportation

 George Harrison in Hamburg, 1960.

George Harrison in Hamburg, 1960.

Their last gig at the Indra Club was on October 3rd. The boys were pressured to leave by German police; mostly from complaints made by the lady living above the club. 

The band would eventually be deported from Hamburg, beginning with George Harrison after authorities discovered he was under 18. This happened on November 21st and couldn't have come at a worse time as they had just secured a new job at the Top Ten club, which paid better money and had a nicer sound system than they had been used to. 

On November 21st German photographer Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe dropped Harrison off at Hamburg Station, where he got a train to the Hook of Holland. From there he caught a day boat to England. After a myriad of trains and taxis the young George Harrison was completely broke; he had spent all his money getting home.

The Beatles continued on to the Top Ten club to perform for a time, but ultimately were deported themselves before long.

"Astrid, and probably Stuart, dropped me at Hamburg station. It was a long journey on my own on the train to the Hook of Holland. From there I got the day boat. It seemed to take ages and I didn't have much money - I was praying I'd have enough. I had to get from Harwich to Liverpool Street Station and then a taxi across to Euston. I finally got to Liverpool and took a taxi home - I just about made it. I got home penniless. It took everything I had to get me back." - George Harrison
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