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Hamburg Friends

During The Beatles' stays in Hamburg, they met numerous people who went on to become their friends. Aside from the lasting - and famous in their own rights - friends they made in Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann and Jürgen Vollmer (their influence and friendship will eventually be featured in a separate section of this site!), this section features a few other notable people who crossed paths with The Beatles.
 
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Tony Sheridan
 
When asked by the authors of the book "Mach Schau!" if it was true that The Beatles learned a lot from him, as they themselves had said, he downplayed his role, saying everyone was influenced by everyone in the Reeperbahn scene.
He viewed the band members as follows:

"[Ringo] was essentially the opposite of John, if you will. John was more intellectual and the extroverted motorman of the whole thing and Ringo was a quiet, sentimental, vulnerable, little man who was very introverted. An really, he was interested in playing the drums and nothing else. That's how he was. He had suffered for a long time in his childhood, was ill and retained something childlike because of it.

And somewhere in between was George, as a very, very intent young man, who really saw nothing, nothing else in the world but the guitar and stage and rock'n'roll. And he was obsessed, yes, obsessed. Ringo wasn't obsessed, he was the clown, a really sweet-natured guy who wanted to do something nice.
Musically, George carried great weight between the other three. That was probably more important than you'd think and probably underestimated. Paul and John put him down a bit, unfortunately. But maybe he needed that.

And Paul is the eternal diva. The acrobar or however you call it, the happy-go-lucky sort of guy, totally extroverted, I have never encountered anyone else that extroverted. His whole life is the show. Preferably on stage. A very talented guy, but a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He doesn't have that depth. I think the deepest thing he ever wrote was 'Yesterday' and if you look closer, it's not that deep either. The theme is basically sentimental. He is sentimental too, but he always remains happy-go-lucky and very playful. George had that depth.

[And John] certainly was a person who knew how to be cynical and biting and scathing. Wanting to hurt people and such, he used that as armor. But he was a natural type of leader, you could say. He had that quality of being able to put people under his spell, and he was clever enough for it."
 
And Tony also had this to say about Astrid Kirchherr:
 
"Astrid Kirchherr was very important because she brought people together, she was the magnetic pole who attracted people. But people, musicians amongst themselves, say the Beatles, surely grew closer because of her presence. It wasn't just her role as a photographer and fashionmaker and hairstylist, she was simply a catalyst and very important. I don't think you can put into words what
happened there. All of us were collectively enamored of her. Sort of like children. There are those kinds of people who don't do anything, they're just there, but influence everything that's around them."
 
As for a bit of trivia: Paul and Tony Sheridan co-wrote a song together in those days, called "Tell Me If You Can".
 
Scan - George Harrison, John Lennon and Tony Sheridan on stage at the Top Ten Club, Hamburg, 1961
In memory of Anthony Esmond “Tony” Sheridan McGinnity, 1940-2013
 
George, John and Tony on stage at the Top Ten Club, 1961.
 
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"Tante" [Aunt] Rosa Hoffmann
 
Born in 1900, she was responsible for the toilets at the Bambi-Kino, the Kaiserkeller and the Top Ten. She recalls all of The Beatles as being sweet and nice and remembers making them breakfast frequently. When Dot (Paul's girlfriend at the time) came to visit him in Hamburg, the two of them stayed at Rosa's houseboat in the harbor. According to her, all of The Beatles spoke German to her (and were quite good at it). She clearly doted on them, saying she would have walked through fire for them.
 
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Monika Pricken
 
When The Beatles played at the Indra, she saw them there and became one of their first Hamburg fans. As she was quite good at English, a friend requested that she ask the band something for her - which was how she became acquainted with The Beatles. At first, she stuck to Stu, until he and Astrid became inseparable. Being the same age as George, the two of them then struck up a platonic friendship.
(For those interested in the Beatle girls: Monika recalls that, at the time, Paul was friends with Corry Sentrop, John with a girl called Renate and Pete with a blonde named Helga.)

Here are some translated recollections by Monika from the book "Mach Schau!":

"George was unbelievably funny and open and we had a lot of fun. But it was completely platonic."

Her parents asked her to invite the band for a meal at her family's home and when it was time to leave, "they politely said goodbye with a handshake and bow each. That was quite cute. And as a thank you, John played my mother a song: He stood in our living room with a guitar and sang something half in English and half in German. My parents met the Beatles as nice and untainted young people."

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Hans-Walther "Icke" Braun
 
He first met The Beatles at the Top Ten. He became particularly good friends with Paul. He saw the band off on New Year's Day 1963 at the airport in Hamburg and welcomed them at the same place in June 1966. He has a distinct memory of a conversation with Paul during the band's final Reeperbahn stint - he told Paul that he couldn't understand why The Beatles weren't famous yet and Paul replied that he couldn't, either, but perhaps fame would still come. Little did they know to what extent that fame would take them.
 
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Ruth Lallemand & Heike "Goldie" Evert
 
Ruth was working at the bar of the Kaiserkeller, then switched to the Star-Club. She was friends with Paul, while Goldie was friends with Ringo. They remember Paul as being very good at speaking a local dialect, called Back-Slang, which they found out the hard way when they spoke about Paul in his vicinity in this slang - and he replied.
 
 
Paul and Ruth
 
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Bettina "Betty" Derlien
 
She immediately liked The Beatles' show and humor - and John. She visited them in England during the Sixties and met them again when they returned to tour Germany in 1966. John kept in touch with her, by sending her the band's newest records and his quirky drawings.
 
Bettina recalled the following in the book "Mach Schau!":
 
"We went to the movies too. That's when those Dracula films were out, with Christopher Lee, he liked those sorts of things a lot. I can't stand those kinds of things. So I always told him: 'Look, if it's really bad, I'll keep my eyes closed until you tell me when it's okay to look again.' Of course he always told me to look just when it was really bad. Of course I screamed loudly and he howled with laughter. And then we walked back home because we didn't have enough money for a taxi. Through the Stadtgraben, where he ran off and hid, and then emerged from the bushes as Quasimodo. I was a nervous wreck. That sort of thing was fun to him. John was unpredictable. He did stuff sometimes: I was sitting in the Hoelle [a section of the the club dubbed the Hoelle, i.e. hell] with him. And there was this girl standing there, looking st him the whole time. And he looked and she looked... and then he said in his Liverpool slang: 'Give us a kiss.' You should have seen her face! But I know he could be very sad too. He didn't want to let other people see that, but I knew him."
 
 
John and Betty backstage in Hamburg on 26 June 1966, during the Bravo Beatles Blitztournee.
 
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Katharina "Kathia" Berger
 
As Kathia recalled, she used to bring The Beatles fresh strawberries from her job as a strawberry picker in 1961 when she went to the Top Ten Club - which is partly how she acquired her nicknames from Paul: "the girl with the red hair" (because he couldn't pronounce Kathia), "Strawberry" and "Ketchup."
And she also ended up with the following autograph in 1966: "To Strawberry (Kathia), with lots of love from a big fan - Paul McCartney" plus the signatures of George, John and Ringo.
 
 
Paul and Kathia (wearing Paul's sunglasses) backstage in Hamburg on 26 June 1966, during the Bravo Beatles Blitztournee.