The Beatles at the
By Pete Best and Bill Harry
Ten years ago I spent a week with Pete Best collaborating on the book ‘The Best Years of the Beatles’, which was only published in Britain and is now out of print.
We covered numerous memories of those times in detail, including the early days in Hamburg, beginning with the Beatles appearance at the Indra Club.
The group were disappointed to find they were booked into a grotty little club, the Indra, as 58 Grosse Freiheit. They made their debut there on Wednesday 17 August 1960, and discovered they had to play more than four and a half hours a night. Their sleeping arrangements were far worse than they could have imagined – some dingy rooms at the Bambi Filmkunsttheater (which they referred to as the Bambi Kino) at 33 Paul-Roosen Strasse.
The Beatles played at the Indra for a total of forty-eight nights until Monday 3 October. It was during this period that the group’s stage act became much more exciting, and Pete evolved a dynamic new style of drumming that came to be known as the ‘atom beat,’ Given the difficult conditions, the group’s stint at the Indra was something of a baptism of fire.
Here are Pete’s own memories of the club:
“The Indra was two or three hundred yards down the road (from the Kaiserkeller), at the bottom of the Grosse Freiheit. We though, ‘Well, if it’s like this place we don’t mind.’ So it was whooosh! Down to the Indra. But when we arrived, there were just a couple of people sitting there. It was depressing.
“‘Why can’t we play at the Kaiserkeller?’ we asked.
“We were told that the Kaiserkeller wanted us to try and develop the Indra into another Kaiserkeller.
“As time went on it was explained to us by Georg Sterner, the interpreter, who became a waiter at the Kaiserkeller, that Koschmider was a businessman. From his point of view, he had two bands from Liverpool, and he wanted them to build up both his clubs. He felt it was a means of getting the audience to go from one club to the other and back again, which is what happened.
“But at first, we were crestfallen when we saw the Indra. We were also annoyed at being billed as the Silver Beatles and we said, ‘we’re the Beatles, get it right!’