If you've read Beatles biographies, the chances that you've read
about Preludin are very high. What exactly is Preludin?
Thanks to the books "Shout!" by Philip Norman and
"Mach Schau! Die Beatles in Hamburg" by T. Rehwagen and T. Schmidt, here's a bit of info on it...
What is it?
Simply put, in
the words of Philip Norman, "...a brand of German slimming tablet which, while removing appetite, also roused the metabolism
to goggle-eyed hyperactivity." ("Shout!", p. 91)
Taking these pills made The Beatles hyper enough to carry on with
playing their music for the long hours they had to.
The pill Preludin
was introduced to the market on April 1, 1954. No special side-effects were noted during the development and experimentation,
although it was noticed that it made the subjects slightly hyper and thirsty (which, in the case of the bands in St. Pauli,
meant they drank more beer).
There was a warning to not take too many at a time, and to not use
the pills irresponsibly. Also, it was recommended not to take any six hours before going to sleep, as it would keep you awake.
The Beatles and Preludin
The Beatles were introduced to Preludin in 1961 at the Top Ten Club by Tony Sheridan, who told them: "Here's something to
keep you awake."
If you've read the Anthology book, you will have noticed some comments by The Beatles about these pills
(these will be added to this section shortly).
Astrid Kirchherr, in the Rehwagen/Schmidt book, notes that during the times
that the band and their friends took these pills, she had the best conversations with John, because he opened up more.
More on the pill itself
Preludin consisted of:
The majority of the pills found in the red light district
of Hamburg were not official products, but copies made by chemistry students to be sold and distributed.
That picture of The Beatles with Preludin...
Dieter Radke, who worked at the Star Club, remembered that the pictured had
been taken by Manfred Weissleder, who was later, before the big break-through of The Beatles, by Brian Epstein not to sell
the originals to any newspapers or magazines. He kept his word, and the picture was not seen by the public until 1975. Radke
muses if, had he not, The Beatles may not have had a career at all.
by Philip Norman
* "Mach Schau! Die Beatles in Hamburg" by T. Rehwagen and T. Schmidt.