How did Hamburg influence the band's look and style?
Spotlighting the clothes and that hair...
- The leather and the cowboy boots...
"Influenced by [Astrid
Kirchherr] Stu… was the first to appear in a black leather jacket. George soon followed suit in a jacket bought off
a waiter for GBP 5. Then the rest of us got in line, buying cheap bomber-style models which we wore with the tigthest jeans
and cowboy boots.
George also discovered the cowboy boots in a shop on the Reeperbahn, creating some envy when he first
turned up in a black and white pair. John and I hared off at the earliest opportunity to follow suit; Lennon chose a pair
of gold and black, mine were red and black. Paul, who had a reputation amongst the group for watching his Pfennigs, stood
out for some time but he eventually conformed with a black and blue pair. To top off the whole ensemble we bought pink flat
- Pete Best
Hamburg and Style
"John wondered aloud if I had go my 'funny haircut' in Paris too. 'No,'
I told him, 'I cut it myself.' 'Funny looking, ain't it, Georgie?' he asked and George confirmed, 'Indeed,' then added kiddingly,
'Would look good on Paul, though' and put his hand, fingers spread downwards, over Paul's pompadour and forehead, imitating
my hairstyle. John took his comb and, with only a short part sticking out of his hand, held it under Paul's nose, alluding
to a narrow moustache. Then George closed his fingers and held them a little to the side of Paul's forehead. Paul took on
a serious, slightly mad expression, and the imitation of Hitler got its final touch when he raised his arm in a Nazi salute,
while John sand a few bars from the opening theme of Beethoven's 5th Symphony."
- Juergen Vollmer, The Beatles in Hamburg: Photographs
1961, p 14
"During that photo session at the Top Ten
[Club in March 1961] George had combed his hair forward for a change. He kept it that way for the evening in front of the
audience. But the next day it was back to its familiar pompadour - the rockers had given him 'funny looks,' he said."
- Juergen Vollmer, The Beatles in Hamburg:
Photographs 1961, p 18
"...It was great for us because we never
had to style it or anything. - Wash it, towel it, turn upside down and give it a shake, and that was it."
- Paul McCartney, as cited in Fab
Gear: The Beatles and Fashion, p 167
and Klaus were very influential. I remember we went
to the swimming baths once and my hair was down from the water and they
said, 'No, leave it, it's good.' I didn't have my Vaseline anyway, and I
was thinking, 'Well, these people are cool - if they think
it's good, I'll leave it like this.' They gave me that confidence and
when it dried off it dried naturally down, which later became 'the
Before that, as a rocker, I wore my hair back; though it would
never go back without a fight - it goes forward when I was it. (It just
grows into a Beatle cut!) I used to have to put thick Vaseline on my
hair to hold it back.
I remember cutting John's hair one time, and I
tried to get him to cut mine. We did it just as a joke, only the once,
but I don't think he cut mine as professionally as I cut his..." -
George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology
didn't invent it [the Beatle haircut]. At the time, all of us in the
Hamburg art crowd were inspired by the French existentialists. We wore
black, thick scarves, hair combed forward... The boys thought that was
fantastic. Stuart, whom I fell in love with immediately, was the first
to let me cut his hair, in my parents' kitchen in Altona. Later George
followed. John and Paul received the Beatle haircut soon after in Paris,
from my friend, the photographer Juergen Vollmer." - Astrid Kirchherr, Hoerzu (German magazine)
had a flattened-down hairstyle with a fringe in the front, which we
rather took to. We went over to his place and there and then he cut -
hacked would be a better word - our hair into the same style." - John
"The Beatle haircut was in face a
Juergen haircut.. George explained in a 60's interview that it was John
and I having ours cut in Paris which prompted him to do the same... We
were the first to take the plunge." - Paul McCartney, 1988
that photo session at the Top Ten [in April 1961] George had combed his
hair forward for a change. He kept it that way for the evening in front
of the audience. But the next day it was back to its familiar pompadour
- the rockers had given him funny looks, he said…." - Juergen Vollmer, The Beatles in Hamburg
when I met the two Beatles the next day they had decided to take their
change of appearance all the way - they wanted the coup de grace to
their rocker image: different haircuts. They glanced up at my hair. Yes,
now they wanted that same 'funny haircut,' too.... During the day it
was permitted to bring guests to one's hotel room and it was there that I
first laid a towel over Paul's shoulders, destroyed his pompadour and
ducktails, combed his hair in the opposite direction, cut here, cut
there. And then I did the same with John's hair..." - Juergen Vollmer, The Beatles in Hamburg
Here's what the book Fab Gear(by Paolo Hewitt) offers up:
Juergen recalls, 'During that photo sessoon at the Top Ten, George had
combed his hair forward. He kept it that way for the evening in front of
the audience. But the next day it was back to its familiar pompadour -
'the rockers had given him funny looks', he said.'
was the adventurous Stuart Sutcliffe who was the next Beatle to try out
the 'Exi' style. 'He was the first one who really got the nerve to get
the Brylcreem out of his hair,' Astrid recalled in 1995, 'and asked me
to cut his hair for him.'
'Stuart wanted to have the same
haircut that Klaus and Juergen had, so I cut Stuart's hair that way',
she explained. 'Then George came along and asked me to cut his hair that
way. But Paul and John couldn't decide whether to have the different
haircut. It took them quite a long time. I think it was at least six
months or more. They went to Paris to visit Juergen, who was working
there, and they asked him if he would cut their hair for them like his.
So I only cut Stuart and George's hair.'
When the band decided
to let Pete Best go and hired Ringo, one of the first rules of his
joining concerned his hair. 'You can keep the sidies [sideburns],'
Lennon told him over the phone, 'but loose the beard.'
confirms: 'They all changed my image. I used to have my hair right back
like a Teddy Boy with a Tony Curtis cut and sideboards, and suddenly it
was "shave them off and put your hair down", which I did."
So it seems that every story
is a little different.
I'd tend to believe Astrid in the order of the Beatle haircut being
taken on by the band: Stu, George, John, Paul, Ringo.
Just goes to show: "Well,
there's a way of twisting history - because if you find a roll of film
in the cupboard, that's going in the documentary. I may have been doing
something far more important on the same day, but because I didn't film
it, it's no longer important. I think it's shown me that all history
must be rubbish, because if we can't tell our story - and we're still
alive - God help the Romans, or Alexander the Great or... anyone!" -
George Harrison, Q Magazine, 1995