Bill Hillman Tracks

A Photo Album of the Hamburg Years
Part I

McCartney's call-up to the 'fifth Beatle'
The Telegraph ~ October 22, 2011
This letter dates back to August 1960, at a time when the fledgling Beatles had been invited to tour Hamburg. Days before they were due to depart, the band's four members - McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bassist - were lacking one thing: a drummer. In the newly-discovered letter, dated August 12, McCartney, then 18, wrote: 
"Dear Sir, 

In reply to your advertisement [sic] in Echo, Wed. night, we would like to offer you an audition for the position of drummer in the group.

"You will, however, need to be free soon for a trip to Hamburg (expenses paid £18 per week (approx.) for 2 months.) If interested, ring Jacaranda club, Slater St. [ROYAL 65'44] and ask for either a member of the 'BEATLES' Alan Williams [sic], or else leave a message, stating when you will be available. 

Yours sincerely Paul McCartney Of THE BEATLES."

It is not known if an audition ever took place, or if the band simply ran out of time. What is known is that in the days after the letter was sent, the band auditioned Pete Best, a drummer who they had played with previously, for the vacant position. On August 15, the five, including Best, travelled to Hamburg.

The handwritten letter, which was discovered this year at the sale in Bootle, Liverpool, is expected to fetch up to £9,000 at auction next month. It is believed to be one of the earliest examples of the band calling themselves The Beatles they had previously been known as The Quarrymen.

The original members had seen Best play at the Casbah Club, the cafe in the cellar of the house owned by Best's mother. It was widely believed that Best was the only drummer they considered to take to Hamburg. But the newly discovered letter suggests that they were still unsure of Best, and desperately searching for an alternative drummer just days before their departure for Germany. In 1962, as the band began to taste success, Best was fired and replaced by Ringo Starr.

Hamburg 1961

On October 15, 1960, while in Hamburg,
The Beatles backed Wally Eymond aka Lou Walters,
the guitarist for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes,
on his version of George Gershwin's "Summertime."
As Beatles drummer Pete Best is absent from the session,
the band plays with Rory Storm's drummer, Ringo Starr.
This is the first known recording of the group together, though the master is lost to history;
two years later, the group would hire Ringo permanently.

PART I: Gigs  |  PART II: Digs | PART III: Echos | PART IV: Reeperbahn | PART V: Places

Photos I | Photos II | Photos III | Photos IV | Photos V | Photos VI | Photos VII

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