60 years Ago: Beatles Ring in New Year in Hamburg

The Beatles celebrated the start of 1963 with a New Year’s Eve concert at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. The show was a fitting close to the group’s Hamburg days, during which the band made five trips to the city and logged approximately 800 hours on stage. This was an important part of the group’s development. George Harrison summed it up nicely, “we got very tight as a band in Hamburg.”

During the Beatles final 14-day Hamburg appearance, Star-Club stage manager Adrian Barber recorded some of the acts performing at the club, including the Beatles. Twenty-six of the songs performed by the Beatles were eventually issued in America in June 1977 on the LP Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany; 1962. Although the sound quality of the recordings is poor, they provide a fascinating insight into how the group sounded at the time just before they made it big.

The recordings first appeared on an album released in Germany in late April 1977. Prior to the album’s release in America, John Lennon obtained a copy of the German LP. John wrote a memo (most likely prepared for his attorney) regarding the contents of the album and its liner notes, which falsely claimed that recordings were from early 1962, before the Beatles signed their contract with EMI. As a result of the memo, four songs were dropped from the LP for its American release. The fascinating story about the Hamburg recordings and John’s reaction to them appears on pages 118 – 124 of the book The Beatles Swan Song: “She Loves You” & Other Records. (The book is on sale for $22 through January 4, 2013.)

Today’s trivia questions are about the Beatles songs recorded at the Star-Club. 

1. What two Lennon-McCartney songs were recorded at the Star-Club and were included on the German LP, but not on the American LP? (Hints, if you want them. One of the songs opens a Beatles LP. The other had been recorded by the Beatles at the time of the Star-Club shows, but had not yet been released.)

2. What non-Lennon-McCartney song that was a hit single in America in early 1964 appears on the German LP, but not on the American LP?

3. Name the eight songs appearing on the American Star-Club LP that were later recorded by the Beatles for Parlophone LPs. (Hints, if you want them. A. One of the songs is sung by George and opened the Beatles first U.S. concert. B. Two of the songs are show tunes sung by Paul. C. Two of the songs are rockers sung by Paul that were previously recorded by Little Richard. D. One of the songs is a Carl Perkins tune sung by George. E. One of the songs is sung by John at the Star-Club and by Ringo on the recording made at Abbey Road. F. One of the songs was originally recorded by Dr. Feelgood & the Interns.)

4. Who were the guest vocalists on the songs Be-Bop-A-Lula and Hallelujah I Love Her So and which Beatles normally sang these songs in concert?


1. I Saw Her Standing There and Ask Me Why.

2. Twist And Shout

3. (A) Roll Over Beethoven; (B) A Taste Of Honey and Till There Was You; (C) Long Tall Sally and Kansas City; (D) Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby; (E) Matchbox; and (F) Mr. Moonlight.

4. Star-Club waiter Fred Fascher sang lead on Be-Bop-A-Lula, which was normally sung by John in concert. Star-Club manager (and Fred’s brother) Horst Fascher sang lead on Hallelujah I Love Her So, which was normally sung by Paul in concert.

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