Beatles: Hamburg


The Beatles Teaching Pack

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In August 1960 The Beatles go to play in Hamburg, Germany. They live in terrible accomodation in an area of gangsters and prostitutes.

Playing six hours a night, seven days a week, they take amphetamines to stay awake. This their first introduction to drugs.


There are changes in the band. Stuart leaves the group and Pete Best is increasingly out-of-step with the other members. He does not take drugs.

The German authorities discover George Harrison is only 17. They deport him and the group returns to Liverpool. They are now a much better band.

Stuart stays in Hamburg to paint. He dies a year later.

Interview the band members, using the reports you wrote here. You have to decide whether to deport them!

Look at the famous photo of The Beatles in Hamburg above. It tells us a lot about the of the group at that time. At the centre of the photo are the three long-term members of the group George, John and Paul.

On the outside are the two 'lost' Beatles. Stuart Sutcliffe & Pete Best will leave The Beatles before they become famous.

This famous photo of The Beatles in Hamburg tells us a lot about the of the group at that time.

George Harrison 2nd left

George is only 17 - the youngest Beatle. He looks a little nervous and holds his guitar tightly. Like the other band members he plays six or seven hours a night, seven nights a week. George’s deportation ends The Beatles stay in Hamburg in December 1961.

John Lennon (3rd left)

John looks a little bored. While Paul pretends to play his guitar, John’s right hand hangs down by his side. Though he is sitting behind Paul he still dominates the photo. At this point, John is clearly the leader of the group

Paul McCartney 2nd from right

Paul takes the photo shoot seriously. Unlike the others, he pretends to play his instrument. He is comfortable next to John but has turned away from Stuart.

Paul is also perhaps a little of jealous of Stuart's close friendship with John. He is also unhappy about Stuart's bass playing. He eventually takes over as bass player in the group.

The photo also reminds us that Paul is left handed.
The Hamburg photo shows two members of The Beatles who left before the group became famous.

Pete Best (far left)
Paul McCartney invited Best to become The Beatles full-time drummer in 1960. Best was very popular with early female fans but did not mix well with other Beatles. They asked Brian Epstein to remove Best from the group in August 1962.

Lennon later said, ‘Pete was a good drummer but Ringo was a good Beatle’. There were complaints about Best’s drumming but the main problem was personal.

Best is standing a little apart from the rest of the group. The only other person standing is Paul. Many accused Paul of jealousy towards Pete Best.

Both Paul and Pete were deported from Germany after setting light to their room.

Stuart Sutcliffe

Stuart Sutcliffe was a close friend of John Lennon. He had a more difficult relationship with Paul McCartney. The body language of the young men in the photo suggests this.

Stuart hides behind his sunglasses. He is not happy in the group. He is a very talented artist but a poor musician. Paul sometimes unplugs his bass guitar on stage.


The girlfriend of Stuart, Astrid Kirchherr took the Hamburg photo.When the other Beatles left Hamburg, Stuart left the group to stay with her.

Tragically, Sutcliffe died a year later on 10 April, 1962 of a
brain haemorrhage. He was only 21. His death had a particularly strong effect on John.

A photo of Stuart appears on the cover of The Beatles most famous album
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Interview the band members, using the reports you wrote here. You have to decide whether to deport them!

Wonderful materials for English language learners!! Ms Fann, ESL teacher, Nashville, USA

The Beatles Teaching Pack