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The Beatles live: Casbah Coffee Club, Liverpool

The Beatles spent much of December 1960 despondent and with no money, following the disastrous end to their first Hamburg trip.

John Lennon was the last to arrive back in Britain, but spent five days alone before finally contacting the other Beatles on 15 December. Paul McCartney, meanwhile, had taken a job in a Liverpool factory.

After Hamburg it wasn’t too good. Everyone needed a rest. I expected everyone to be ringing me to discuss what we were doing, but it was all quiet on the Western front. None of us called each other, so I wasn’t so much dejected as puzzled, wondering whether it was going to carry on or if that was the last of it.

I started working at a coil-winding factory called Massey and Coggins. My dad had told me to go out and get a job. I’d said, ‘I’ve got a job, I’m in a band.’ But after a couple of weeks of doing nothing with the band it was, ‘No, you have got to get a proper job.’ He virtually chucked me out of the house: ‘Get a job or don’t come back.’ So I went to the employment office and said, ‘Can I have a job? Just give me anything.’ I said, ‘I’ll have whatever is on the top of that little pile there.’ And the first job was sweeping the yard at Massey and Coggins. I took it.

I went there and the personnel officer said, ‘We can’t have you sweeping the yard, you’re management material.’ And they started to train me from the shop floor up with that in mind. Of course, I wasn’t very good on the shop floor – I wasn’t a very good coilwinder.

One day John and George showed up in the yard that I should have been sweeping and told me we had a gig at the Cavern. I said, ‘No. I’ve got a steady job here and it pays £7 14s a week. They are training me here. That’s pretty good, I can’t expect more. And I was quite serious about this. But then – and with my dad’s warning still in my mind – I thought, ‘Sod it. I can’t stick this lot.’ I bunked over the wall and was never seen again by Massey and Coggins. Pretty shrewd move really, as things turned out.

Paul McCartney

The Beatles’ first show since Hamburg was at Mona Best’s Casbah Coffee Club, a venue they hadn’t played at since the Quarrymen days, on 10 October 1959.

Stuart Sutcliffe had remained in Hamburg with Astrid Kirchherr, so The Beatles recruited Chas Newby, formerly the rhythm guitarist with The Blackjacks, to play bass.

The Beatles borrowed equipment from the other act that was booked to play that night, Gene Day and the Jango Beats, who later renamed themselves Earl Preston and the TTs.

Posters declaring “The Beatles, Direct From Hamburg, Germany” were placed around the Casbah, and the basement venue was crammed with people expecting to see a German band perform. Many were disappointed when Lennon, McCartney and Harrison walked to the stage area.

Once they began playing, however, it was clear that a transformation had occurred during their time in Germany. The crowd went wild, The Beatles performed sensationally, and Beatlemania in Britain began to get underway.

The Beatles played at the Casbah Coffee Club a total of 37 times between 1960 and 1962. The other dates were: 31 December 1960; 15 and 29 January; 12, 19 and 26 February; 5, 12, 19 and 26 March; 6, 13 and 27 August; 10 and 24 September; 22 October; 19 and 24 November; 3 and 17 December 1961; 7, 14, 21 and 28 January; 4, 11, 18 and 25 February; 4, 11, 18 and 25 March; 1, 7 and 8 April; and 24 June 1962.

The Quarrymen also performed at the Casbah on seven occasions: 29 August; 5, 12, 19 and 26 September; and 3 and 10 October 1959.

Last updated: 24 January 2024
John Lennon leaves Hamburg
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