Hamburg St. Pauli 1960-1962
This is a sketch of our stompin' ground in Hamburg.
Astrid's Home Getting Ready
Astrid's home, us getting ready to go to the Reeperbahn.
The Bambi Years
This is the main entrance to the Bambi Kino. The back entrance to the Beatles rooms was round the corner.
George is feeling very cold!
They lived at the bottom of a narrow twenty-yard corridor - which Paul christened 'the canal' - in two tiny storage rooms in which you could just about swing a cat, so long as the cat had no tail!
Somehow two camp-beds were jammed into these ugly concrete rooms which were windowless and illuminated by bare lightbulbs that hung from the ceiling. Without even a hook to hang a coat on, the boys had to live out of their suitcases, and were especially disappointed since this was where they were not only expected to sleep during the day, but also to spend all their free time.
The Bambi wash room was a men’s room and wash room in one. So it could happen that a cinema guest would come for a piss while they were having their morning shave.
It was extreme at the Kaiserkeller. There was always that threat contained in being different. It was just a matter of how we dressed against how they dressed. Kids - as we all were then - can be very cruel, and very class-conscious, looking down on people who aren’t part of the same culture. There was an attitude of not deigning to notice all these people people around us. Actually two or three of the rockers at the Kaiserkeller looked very good for their style, though I never had any desire to connect with them. For me there was also a feeling of fear of this new environment. In fact our legs were trembling as we descended into the Kaiserkeller on that first night. We were about the first in the audience, so we had a good view of the club. The room had a very low ceiling and the dance floor was surrounded by columns. Fishermen’s nets and other maritime bric-a-brac made the place look like a seaman’s tavern. The waiter hung around the left corner of the bar.
The first band plugged in their instruments and the show started. From our lifeboat we were able to watch nearly everything on the stage. I could see the drummer - Ringo Starr - very clearly and I was impressed. Then the blond-curled Rory Storm entered the stage and did all his tricks with the mic stand again.
I had an idea.... I’d designed the sleeve for a cover version by ’’The Typhoons’’ of The Ventures Walk Don’t Run. I took the cover to the Kaiserkeller and waited all that night until John Lennon sat at the edge of the stage for a moment. John was very polite and introduced me to Stuart Sutcliffe, whom he called the artist in the band. Everybody in the boat was delighted about the contact. We didn’t speak English very well, but from that day on our friendship grew very fast.
These are two of the doorman, standing in front of the St. Pauli clubs.
Paul and Pete getting arrested just about 100 yards after they left the Bambi Kino. The police drove them to the Davidswache and put them in custody.
"Die Grosse Freiheit", one of Hamburg’s small side streets off the Reeperbahn, means the Great Freedom.
Paul shows the scene of the crime in a little drawing he sent me.
I remember going around their place one weekend, and entering the bedroom to find John being prepared for something which instantly made me very curious. He was dressed in a pair of underpants and a white shirt which, for some unknown reason, he wore back to front.
Then he was handed a black jacket which he put on in the same way. Now he picked up a crucifix which was, no doubt, one of his own creations. As soon as he had hold of his crucifix he started talking like a preacher. With his arm outstretched he went straight to the window which looked out on Grosse Freiheit and, kneeling down on a chair, leaned out and showed the cross to the people in the street. With his voice lifted to the top of its range, he carried on his preaching to the people below.
I have no idea what the people of the Grosse Freiheit thought, but this was more than just a little laugh.
A very cheap Chinese restaurant called Chug-ou was one of our favourites. Some of the musicians who ate there, like The Beatles, were attracted to the pancakes the restaurant was known for, and its massive twomark servings of chicken and rice, but mainly the place was frequented by the elderly of St. Pauli, and the many battle-scarred war veterans who were still around. Paul recalls one old customer, who "parked" his wooden leg in the corner of the restaurant, while he ate at Chug-ou.
John and Stuart on their way to Chug-ou’s for a bite to eat. Chug-ou’s is just about where the VW is parked.
George In The Rain - The Star-Club was no problem for The Beatles at all. They had played enough places up to that point to feel comfortable in a bigger venue. Sometimes after or while a concert when George felt hungry, he just went out this old cinema, going around the corner for a bite to eat.
John And Bettina - Often late at night, John was hanging over the bar, dead tired and sad. Bettina tried to cheer him up.
This was one of those nights. The Beatles were playing great, the people were dancing and having a good time. In the middle of the door stood this seductive looking creature with her back towards the band, desperately trying to look cool. John took a long and marine look over her shoulder and than, cautiously set down behind her. "Got you!" He quickly wrapped his legs around the girl’s belly and all we saw next was John raise his hands as if he was going to dive into her dress...
This band, more than any other I have seen, was never very well behaved. If the boys took a step too far, they would soon be on their way back to good old England. Those John Days... times when he would act outrageously, just out of sheer frustration, and play jokes which left you torn between laughing and crying would usually leave Paul with having to repair the damage with a thousand apologies and promises.
It was a strange feeling to be in the Top Ten in the early hours of the morning. The overtiredness would sometimes create a wound-up atmosphere, a very strong and tremendously intensive feeling which has stuck with me until this day. It was the quiet feeling of togetherness and friendship.
Suddenly, somebody goes to the door of the Top Ten and opens it, and then ... Woompf! Daylight slams inside and fights its way through thick swathes of smoke. The sun glistens on the table, shining like crazy. Everything changes to pallid sobriety. What minutes ago felt comfortable and safe, a world wrapped-up, far away from the here and now, suddenly comes to a blinding dead end.
Rosa, sometimes known as Muttchen, presided over the toilet of the Top Ten. From her drawer she dealt out everything one might need to master life: condoms, handkerchiefs, toilet paper and a good assortment of pills. When Rosa's Pauli came by to get his Prellies she was particularly happy. Rosa would sit in there smiling, with her heart of gold, amongst the kissing lovers and pissing drunks, and they would have a nice little natter.
These four boys were treated like outcasts by the establishment, mainly because of their looks, and the fact that they were musicians and artists. They were watched closely and deported at the first available opportunity. A few poor lads filed away as criminals; this was such a strange over-reaction to a little rascal's prank. In fact, the authorities' response had little to do with the actual offense. The police and the entire establishment saw something dangerous and obscene in these musicians who screamed their souls into microphones: they were seen as a threat to middle-class morality. So the imprisonment of Paul was especially unjust.
Boulevard Of Broken Strings
John after a long night of playing and drinking stumbling home, or is someone going to entice him to stumble yet into another adventure?
I tried to capture an early morning, rainy atmosphere on St. Pauli’s Reeperbahn. Have a good look at the detail.
Breakfast With John
One very late night into the early morning hours after everyone else had gone, we were having breakfast when suddenly John fell face first into his plate, fast asleep while still holding his burning cigarette! Eventually when the cigarette burned down to his fingers, John awoke, sat up, and continued on as if nothing had happened!
Klaus Voormann (C) 2007-2013.
Artist's official website.
All rights reserved.
Currently we accept payments via Paypal or by bank transfer. Please feel free to read on here.
UID/VAT DE 239765225
Typography & Design by Voormann/Gandl Neubau