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Deportation Shatters The Beatles, 1960

Updated on May 31, 2012

Most know the sketchy details about why The Beatles in 1960 were deported from Hamburg, Germany. Urban myths have grown up around it. Paul tried to plea their case in writing to German authorities, explaining the whole event causing it. But what was not conveyed in the annals of Beatle history, were key details.

It began at 1:30 a.m on Saturday morning. The band and the man that hired them, Bruno K., were trying to negotiate their contract. The Beatles refused to sign a contract present promising to return in December to play (they were in school). Bruno then said he would not pay their way back to England. This was around September. Bruno was pissed and told the band to get out of the office. The Beatles had already agreed to play at a competitor club, The Top Ten. Paul and Pete Best were entering the dark corridor leading to their room, found matches and lit some for light. Paul found a section of old rope and lit it in sections to provide more light. However, the rope really flamed and the boys quickly put it out. With the fire gone, the boys went to bed. Somehow, the rope reignited and some of the theater burned enough to call authorities. Bruno called the authorities. The Beatles felt Bruno may certain the Beatles would not play at the Top Ten Club by telling police both Paul and George were under 18.

What got them deported was not the fire, but their age, minors playing in bars and clubs. The impact of the deportation was a real shock to them. It was a like a slap. A wake up call. The police had revoked their work permits. Paul and Peter were handcuffed, taken to the station, put in jail and then taken to the airport where they returned home. This happened within a day. George was taken to a train station, put on it, and went to Holland, caught a ship to England, then a bus to Liverpool. By the time he arrived, he had no money. He had all his belongings with him, clothes in a bag, guitar, amp. He was depressed and dirty. Stu was not around when this happened, but was with Astrid (the woman who created Beatle hair). He showed up at the club thinking, "what the hell?" Police arrested him and took away all his belongings including his glasses and tossed him a cell with no explanation for six hours. He was forced to sign a confession printed in German. Then, he was freed.

As for John, he was also arrested for not having a work permit. He and Stu were not deported but could no work in Germany. They tried to hang on. John actually made money playing with some other bands there (he took his chances of getting caught). Stu shacked up with Astrid until January, 1961, before he went back. John, lasted a few more weeks but became so disillusioned, he went home around Christmas. John had only enough money to get back with his stolen amp and guitar and clothes on his back. As John said, he was scared being in foreign country, not speaking the language and trying to get back home. He was 20, and like all the members, away from home for the first time.

There was no communication in January, 1961. All of the Beatles now seriously considered abandoning their dream of making it. Paul studied for exams, George did some odd work his dad got him, John analyzed himself and where he was going and what did he want to do. He withdrew in isolation and used booze as a vice. The whole event shattered John. Paul and George became pissed at John. They felt shut out. Paul had expected John to bounce back but he didn't. So, he began to believe that was the end. Soon, Paul's dad threatened to kick him out. So, Paul went to the employment office and asked for any work. He was a sweeper. Yet, someone there thought otherwise, and gave him a job as s supervisor. It paid Paul 7 pounds a week (they made 15 in Germany). While there, John and George came by one day and told him "we have a job at the Cavern". Paul hesitated because he had a real job and a future. Yet, when Paul thought of his Dad's threats about getting a real job, he said, fuck it, and left the job.

The Beatles were back.

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