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NORTHERN GERMANY BEATLES the in Hamburg Story and photos by Alison Smith


“I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.” - John Lennon


“Can you show me where T e Beatles played?” is a question


Peter Paetzold has been asked many times in his life. Jimi Hendrix just happened to be the fi rst to ask. Paetzold grew up in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg, just


around the corner from the Bambi Cinema, where T e Beatles lived when they fi rst arrived in Hamburg in 1960. Paetzold was only 11, but he remembers seeing a group of guys who looked like rock ‘n’ rollers from American movies hanging around the local bakery on early aſt ernoons. Paetzold said since they were the only British people in the area, they stuck out. A few years later as Beatlemania was running wild and stories


of the group’s early days in Hamburg came out, Paetzold realized who the English rock ‘n’ rollers were. When Hendrix, a huge Beatles fan, asked Paetzold to show


him around the area, he took the guitarist and songwriter along the Reeperbahn and through his childhood neighborhood. He pointed out the clubs, including the Indra and the Kaiserkeller, that are still there and look nearly the same as in the early ‘60s. “Now I can say that was my fi rst tour,” said Paetzold, who


continued to give tours to friends and anyone else who asked. He eventually set up a website off ering his tours on request. David Hanowski, a history buff and Beatles fan from Calgary,


Canada, was planning a summer vacation to Germany in 2008 when he came across Paetzold’s site aſt er a long search. “T inking that this would be a popular destination among


Beatle fans, prior to arriving in Hamburg, I tried to fi nd a company that gave tours of these areas, and much to my surprise, there were none,” Hanowski said. He thought the tour from Paetzold was fantastic and wondered


why no one had made an organized tour out of it. “I was aware the Star Club had burnt down, but I was


completely amazed at the fact that most of the buildings — T e Indra, T e KaiserKeller, the Bambi theater — were all still there,” Hanowski said. “Even in Liverpool, the Cavern Quarter is all diff erent, and many people debate over where the original entrance to the Cavern actually was.” Hanowski started research on Beatles-based tourism in the band’s hometown, and discovered that


Liverpool, it


represented about a £250 million-per-year business. “Even if a small percentage of people who came to Liverpool


Peter Paeztold, after growing up in Hamburg in the 1960s, gave his fi rst Beatles tour to Jimi Hendrix. He shows a picture of where this doorway was used in the Rock ‘n’ Roll album by John Lennon.


would also make the trip to Hamburg, then our business could be a success,” Hanowski said. “I asked Peter about the idea of setting up a formal tour that we could off er a few days a week.” Paetzold agreed and, with his knowledge and Hanowski’s


backing money, the two worked together to organize the tour. Paetzold’s fi rst-hand experience makes him a rarity among


historical tour guides. Paetzold details his experiences in a book coming out in the


spring of 2012. He said he’s been working on Live in Hamburg 1958-69 for the past 30 years gathering personal stories and interviews with club owners and performers of the time. Although he’s tried to make a complete anthology of the stories of the Beatles and other bands of the time, he says it’s impossible. “Nobody can make a complete one. T ere’s too many secrets,”


he said. Time is running out to fi ll in the gaps that those secrets have


leſt . Many of the club owners have died and others are over the age of 70 now. Most people know that the Beatles played at the Top Ten Club and the Star Club, but Partzold said they also played for two nights at a place called Studio X, a fact he learned only because he knew the owner. Hanowski believes that the tours put on by Paetzold and the


other tour guides are for more than just Beatles fans. “You may not like their music, but you cannot deny the


infl uence T e Beatles had on music, fashion, politics, etc. And although they weren’t born there, Hamburg played a very important role,” he said. “Had Hamburg not ended up in British Zone of occupation of


Germany, there would have been no British sailors in Hamburg,” Hanowski said. “If there weren’t British sailors in Hamburg, then there would not have been a demand for live rock ‘n’ roll. Had there not been the demand for live rock ‘n’ roll, then what would music, culture, fashion be like today?”


Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany


ALPINE LIVING 2011 | 15


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