Saturday, September 11, 2010

A brief history of the Beatles

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Years before it became a base camp for the masterminds of 9/11 (or lucky bastards, depending on your view), Hamburg was a city that helped spawn the Beatles. The lads spent two years, off and on, honing their performance skills at clubs in the German city. It wasn't pretty, but it was a gig.

To get a glimpse of what the band was peforming, check out this set list from the Star-Club in 1962.  Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney had been writing songs since the late Fifties, these performances consisted mainly of covers, including a few memorable ones that would be recorded later and put on vinyl.  (Lead vocals are in parentheses):

"I Saw Her Standing There" (McCartney)
"Roll Over Beethoven" (Harrison)
"Hippy Hippy Shake" (McCartney)
"Sweet Little Sixteen" (Lennon)
"Lend Me Your Comb" (Lennon)
"Your Feet's Too Big" (McCartney)
"Red Sails in the Sunset" (McCartney)
"Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (Harrison)
"Matchbox" (Lennon)
"Talkin' 'Bout You" (Lennon)
"Shimmy Shimmy" (McCartney)
"Long Tall Sally" (McCartney)
"I Remember You" (McCartney)
"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)" (Lennon)
"Where Have You Been All My Life" (Lennon)

"Twist and Shout" (Lennon)
"Mr. Moonlight" (Lennon)
"A Taste of Honey" (McCartney)
"Besame Mucho" (McCartney)
"Reminiscing" (Harrison)
"Kansas City" (McCartney)
"Nothin' Shakin' But the Leaves On a Tree" (Harrison)
"To Know Her is to Love Her" (Harrison or Lennon)
"Little Queenie" (McCartney)
"Falling in Love Again" (McCartney)
"Ask Me Why" (Lennon)
"Hallelujah I Love Her So" (club manager Horst Fascher)
"Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Fred Fascher, Horst's brother)
"Till There Was You" (McCartney)
"Sheila" (Harrison)

The group's first recording as a backing band, "My Bonnie," was made in Germany and put on the Polydor label as Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, with Pete Best on drums. A year later -- on this very date in 1962 -- the boys were back in London nailing down a final cut of "Love Me Do" as the Beatles, with session drummer Andy White behind the kit and Ringo playing tambourine. Or so the story goes.

It would take nearly two years for the song to hit No. 1 in America, and was the Beatles' fourth chart-topper here following "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You" and "Can't Buy Me Love."

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