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The Beatles in Hamburg
The Beatles in Hamburg

The Beatles in Hamburg

The Stories, the Scene and How It All Began


128 Pages, 9.5 x 8.25

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $19.95 (US $19.95) (CA $21.95)

Publication Date: October 2011

ISBN 9781569768167

Rights: US & CA

Chicago Review Press (Oct 2011)

Price: $19.95


The Fab Four's formative years in the heart of Germany

When the fledgling Beatles went to Hamburg in 1960, they had no idea that their world--and music--was going to change forever. Associating with gangsters and prostitutes and sleeping in appalling conditions behind a cinema screen, the Beatles pounded out beat music in strip clubs and dens of vice like the Indra, the Kaiserkeller, the Top Ten, and the Star-Club. In the process, they changed their way of playing, got arrested and deported, wore black leather, lost their bass player, sacked their drummer, developed a vast repertoire of raucous rock ’n’ roll songs, and fashioned a new hairstyle.The Beatles in Hamburg features interviews with the Beatles’ friends and contemporaries, including photographers Astrid Kirchherr and Jürgen Vollmer, bass player Klaus Voormann, Liverpool artists Gerry Marsden and Kingsize Taylor, singers Tony Sheridan and Roy Young, club managers Horst and Uwe Fascher, and many more. It is packed with close to 150 photographs of the Beatles and the Hamburg scene, some in full color and several never before seen.There have been hundreds of books about the Beatles, but here for the first time is the remarkable, fully illustrated account of the band’s formative years in Hamburg.


"As a native Liverpudlian who discovered rock 'n' roll at the same time as the Fabs, Leigh can write about the city and its music scene with an authority other authors lack."  —Gillian Gaar,Goldmine, on Twist and Shout!

"Essential for anyone fascinated with what made Britain tick before the Beatles."  —Mojo onThe Cavern

"An unsentimental, unpretentious account of Buddy's life. . . . Everyday smashes through the smoke and mirrors to give an animated, informative, and refreshingly candid portrait of the rock 'n' roll legend and his enduring legacy. A truly exhaustive account of how the music was born and why it never died."  —Record Collector on Everyday

"Spencer Leigh has succeeded in conveying the spirit of the period with great accuracy. He writes in an authentic, sensitive, and honest manner, as though he had been there himself—and all with a good touch of British humor. This is not only the story of the Beatles in Hamburg—it is also a historical document of an era that left a lifelong impression on people like me and the Beatles."  —Klaus Voormann

"Not only does the book take you back, it also shows you more about this vital phase in the Beatles' career than we've ever seen before."  —Creative Loafing Tampa

"Handsomely-designed . . . Leigh's book is an evocative stroll, and along with the photographs and chronology of the group's visits (and in the case of the underage Harrison, a deportation) Leigh also takes us on side trips that include a capsule history and tour of Hamburg and the St. Pauli's long and storied inventory of vices and tempations."  —

"The book is certainly authoritative, but even better is that it's fully illustrated with loads of four-color photographs and other memorabilia that really gives you a sense of place."  —

"Revelatory . . . required for any Beatles aficionados."  —Under the Radar

Author Biography

According to Record Collector, Spencer Leigh is “rock’s leading oral historian.” His previous books include Everyday, The Cavern, Tomorrow Never Knows, and The Walrus Was Ringo.