Bruno Koschmider terminates The Beatles’ Kaiserkeller contract

Furious that The Beatles had made a verbal agreement to play at rival Peter Eckhorn’s Top Ten Club, Kaiserkeller owner Bruno Koschmider terminated their contract. Despite this, they continued to perform at the Kaiserkeller for another three weeks.

There was an added reason why Koschmider wanted them out: at 17 years of age, George Harrison was too young to be working in the club.

There was a curfew at ten o’clock every night. The German police would come up on stage and announce: ‘It is twenty-two hours and all young people under eighteen years must leave this club. We are making an Ausweiskontrolle.’ Eventually we got so used to it that we started saying it ourselves. We would do joke announcement. I knew a bit of German; George and I had learnt it in school. Everyone else had learnt French, but they taught us German and Spanish. So it was very handy and we could do all the silly stuff. We eventually got a really big steaming club full and they loved us.

The Beatles at the Top Ten Club, Hamburg, 1961

Although The Beatles were aware of the curfew, they managed to avoid the police checks for some time, despite having no work permits.

We used to call them ‘the Gestapo’ – guys in very convincing German uniforms, going around looking at all the kids’ passports. We had never seen the like of it. In Liverpool you could go anywhere as long as you didn’t get caught in a pub, and certainly nobody came round and asked you for your pass. I suppose it was all leftovers from the war.
Paul McCartney

Koschmider’s notice to The Beatles, given on this day, stated:

I the undersigned hereby give notice to Mr George Harrison and to Beatles’ Band to leave on November 30th, 1960. The notice is given to the above by order of the Public Authorities who have discovered that Mr George Harrison is only 17 (seventeen) years of age.
It went on for two months before the penny dropped as to what they were actually saying: ‘Everybody under eighteen years old get out.’ I was only seventeen and I was sitting with the band and getting worries, and eventually somebody did find out; I don’t know how. We didn’t have any work permits or visas, and with me under-age they started closing in on us; then one day the police came and booted me out.
George Harrison

Harrison was finally deported on 21 November 1960, although The Beatles continued to perform at the Kaiserkeller for a few more nights without him.

Last updated: 19 October 2022
The Beatles live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
The Beatles live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
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