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The Beatles in Hamburg: The Stories, the Scene and How It All Began Paperback – October 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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 This is not only the story of the Beatles in Hamburg—it is also a historical document of an era that left a lifelong impression on people like me and the Beatles.”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."  —Popmatters.com


"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."  —Examiner.com


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

About the Author

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569768161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569768167
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #996,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Large size softcover, 125 pages. This book is in association with "Beatlemania The Exhibition, Hamburg". A number of photographs and memorabilia shown in this book come from the Beatlemania Museum in the St. Pauli area of Hamburg.

"We were born in Liverpool, but grew up in Hamburg"-John Lennon.

In the actual 120 pages or so, this book takes a look at THE BEATLES from 1960, when they left England for Germany, until 1962, when they left Hamburg for good as an exciting rock 'n' roll band. The two years the band spent in Hamburg, honed their sound and forged them into a true group. It's interesting that none of the band has ever spoken at length about everything they experienced while playing in Hamburg's seedy red light district-in clubs like the Star Club, or the Top Ten among others. While this book contains no startling revelations, it's both interesting and informative as far as it goes.

This book, though not definitive, is a good attempt at opening a window into this formative era for both the band, and r'n'r. The book contains interviews with Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann, Gerry Marsden (GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS), English rocker Kingsize Taylor, Tony Sheridan, and others from the period. The book is laid out basically chronologically, beginning with comparisons between Liverpool and Hamburg in the years after the war. There's chapters dealing with both German, English, and U.S. stars, and how their music set the stage for THE BEATLES. A number of artists, like Elvis Presley, Bill Haley were popular in both England and Germany. But German fans were looking for something new and exciting-and that's where THE BEATLES come in.
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Having visited the Reeperbahn in Hamburg on my "Beatles pilgrimage" in 2007 (my retirement present to myself), I thought that I knew most of the story of the early Beatles adventures. But I was wrong: I was most impressed with the wealth of information in Leigh's excellent book. Sure, many fans know the big stories, but the interviews with Tony Sheridan, Gerry Marsden, Kingsize Taylor, and several of the German students and club folks add zest to the whole adventure. The photos are also well presented and include many that are not found in most "Hamburg reports." Having previously read Leigh's book on the Cavern Club, which is essentially a diary, I was not expecting such a solid, informative, and well written treatment of this critical period. This book not only covers the Beatles, but also tells the story of some of the other Merseyside and other Brit groups bringing their unique sound to Germany. I also love the "coffee table" quality of the paperback issue.
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Format: Paperback
This is a delightful book. Spencer Leigh is long known for his painstaking research into Merseybeat, for example his book on the Cavern Club, which covers every single day [and night] of it's history.His sources are impressive, with much first-hand interviews with the people who were involved in the story.
Hamburg was, without a doubt, the crucible of the Beatles development as a group. This is apparent from the reception they received on their very first gig back in Liverpool after their initial Kaiserkeller stint. This was the start of their success, which made them firstly, the number one group in Liverpool, and then, the world.
For me the best part of the book was the numerous photos, many taken by Jurgen Vollmer while they were performing at the Top Ten Club. Also, of course, there are the now famous shots taken by Astrid.
Spencer Leigh has combined these photographs together with first-hand accounts from other Liverpool musicians, their German friends, and club owners to produce an impressive account of a very significant time in the story of the most famous band in the world.
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At last, a book that deals with one of the most exciting chapters in the Beatles long history. This book is a great blend of text and pictures, many of which have not been seen before. Although there aren't any new Beatles interviews, there are plenty of quotes and stories from other Liverpool bands who shared the stages of Hamburg. This is an excellent book about the period in the Beatles history that, more than any other, helped shape them into the greatest band ever.
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Just superb. Photos of all those Liverpool groups and artists that I'd read about but never laid eyes on. Comments on the Hamburg scene from same. What a treat, from beginning end. Can't miss as a gift to any Beatlemaniac. If you're reading any of the Beatles bios, have this beside you to really make the Hamburg chapters come alive. I think Spencer Leigh knows more about the Beatles--especially in the context of the whole music scene--than any other man alive. His publisher should ship him out to do similar books for London and America. Once again, bravo! Beautiful book!
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As an American, when I saw the Beatles Anthology in the 90s, it made me realize there was more than a year of Beatlemania that I never witnessed, from when Ringo joined in late '62, until the group's appearance on Ed Sullivan in February 1964. With the publication of The Beatles in Hamburg, it brought to life the days that led up to Beatlemania, their testing ground days in Hamburg, when they were forged into the musical force they became.

And, I learned the name of a 7th Beatle. Not John, Paul, George, Ringo, Pete, or Stuart. Someone who played a few gigs with them in Liverpool when they were called The Beatles. I'll let you find out that bit of trivia.
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