Beatles at the Indra
“We were to be shown our sleeping accommodation, and were led across the road. This area was virtually at the bottom of the Freiheit and there were no lights. Koschmider disappeared. He came back and we saw what turned out to be the exit doors, open. We all looked at one another. Then we went in and found ourselves in a corridor at the back of a cinema.
“We passed two dungeons, which turned out to be our bedrooms for many months to come. John, George and Stu got the ‘palatial suite.’ That was the one with the electric light and the camp bed and the sofa.
“The rest of us were looking around, and we said, ‘Where are we sleeping? We can’t all fit into this one room, there are only three beds and there are five in the band.’
“‘Two more rooms down there,’ we were told. These turned out to be the dungeons. Paul and I were the last to claim our speck, so we ended up there. We were told Allan (Williams) had been aware of all this and we looked at him and said, ‘Is this on a permanent basis or are we just here overnight ‘til you get things sorted out?’ Allan said, ‘Well, I’ll talk to Koschmider, we’ll fix something up.’ But it was something that never got fixed up.
“When we first went over to Hamburg we couldn’t compare with Derry and the Seniors. On stage, Derry was all over the place, a showman extraordinaire. Howie was rampant with the sax. They were a very active, energetic band. We were quite static. We stood there, playing, while Koschmider watched us and came up with the famous expression, ‘Mach Shau.’
“He was comparing us with Derry. Because of that, plus the fact that at the time we were playing six, seven hours a night with a fifteen to twenty minute break in each hour, we became a band who, all of a sudden, weren’t static on stage any more.
“We started clowning about. ‘If he wants us to mach shau – mach shau! The drumming, stamping our feet on stage, John clowning about, the mock fights, all this was our way of saying, ‘All right, if you want us to mach shau, then we’ll enjoy ourselves while we’re doing it.’
“But it caught on, it was very much what the German audience wanted to see.
“Also, with the long hours we were playing, we were getting tighter, the sound was getting stronger. We were then starting to play powerhouse music to match Derry’s. That just suddenly became the normal thing to do; it became second nature to us.
“Koschmider wanted us to play louder – but there was an old lady who lived above the Indra in a flat. This led to trouble.
“As our stage act grew, more and more people came to the Indra. Word got out to ‘come and see the Beatles,’ and we were starting to establish ourselves. Derry and the Seniors would be playing at the Kaiserkeller and we’d be playing at the Indra. The Seniors would come off stage and a lot of people from the Kaiserkeller would come down the road to the Indra, watch us, then migrate back to the Kaiserkeller – and so on.
“So Koschmider’s rubbing his hands. He’s got this audience spending an entrance fee to get into one club and an entrance fee to get into the other.
“Now, because we were becoming more and more dynamic, and more and more people were coming to the club, this woman upstairs complained. The police came in and had a word with Koschmider. I don’t know how many times they’d given him a warning about the noise, but as a result the Indra got closed down.
“Koschmider then moved us to the Kaiserkeller, and we started to play alternatively with Derry. He’d be on for an hour, and then we’d be on, and so on. Then, when Derry went, Rory Storm came”.