Paul McCartney in ColognePosted by matisse_ep on 2009.12.18 at 20:11
Paul McCartney gets back to his German roots Paul McCartney is winding down his European tour with two more concerts in Germany. That's no coincidence, since it was in Germany - and with a German band-member - that The Beatles embarked on their path to stardom. Returning to Germany during his European tour, nearly 50 years after the Beatles first performed to drunken sailors, merchant seamen and prostitutes, is not merely a trip down memory lane for Paul McCartney, it's as if he suddenly 18 years old again, traveling back in a HG Well's time machine.The ex-Beatle's nearly-completed tour features seven stops in five countries including a Christmas gig in London on December 22. Wednesday and Thursday, he gives his final German concerts in Cologne. But the tour began earlier this month in Hamburg - where everything began, nearly 50 years ago.
On August 17, 1960 the Beatles first performed in Hamburg's Indra club, a strip joint just a stone's throw from the seedy Reeperbahn red-light district. One night, Paul McCartney asked German graphic designer Klaus Voormann to stand in for Stuart Sutcliffe, who had fallen sick, to play bass guitar for a cover version of a Fats Domino hit single called "I'm in Love Again." Voormann remembers how he got up on stage and performed alongside McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and drummer Pete Best, who was replaced by the more experienced Ringo Starr 18 months later. "At the time in Hamburg they did not play one original number. They only played songs that were copies of American and English records. George was doing those Joe Brown numbers and the rest was all 60s songs by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles,"
Voormann, who is referred to as the "fifth Beatle" in German media, recently told journalists at the Beatlemania museum in Hamburg. Stardom is hard work Playing night after night for more than two years, it was in the northern German city that the band earned its chops. They performed for eight hours a day and slept in a local cinema. "I think they developed the way they played and the tightness of the band because they had the opportunity in Hamburg to do that," Voormann said. "I don't think it was necessarily the surroundings - the prostitutes and hookers. That was not the reason why they became such a good band - just the fact that they played eight hours minimum a night - that was tough work." But, McCartney has often been quoted as saying that the Beatles didn't come to Hamburg just to work. They also got an education: "The city opened our eyes," he said. "We went there as children and came back as older children. On the Reeperbahn we quite quickly had our baptism of fire when it came to sex - it was like we were let off our leashes. It was a wild time."
The talented young group's association with Voormann had more than just musical benefits. The bass player's former girlfriend Astrid Kirchher was credited with changing the Beatles image from rockers to a more presentable boy group. A missed reunion Voormann made the pilgrimage to Hamburg from his native Munich to see McCartney live in concert, hoping for the opportunity to exchange a few words with his old friend. On stage, an emotional Paul paid tribute to him, but there was no backstage get-together. The "fifth Beatle" avoided the camera, lights and intruding microphones and called a taxi half an hour before McCartney took his final curtain call - to be whisked away from the Colorline Arena to the obscurity of his hotel. Still, there's no sign of bitterness from Voormann, 71, who counts winning his first Grammy for designing the album cover of the "Revolver" album as one of his proudest moments. Later, he was awarded with a second accolade for his contribution to the Concert for Bangladesh event. "I think there is a breed of people that can't stop, and I think Paul is one of them. I really appreciate that," he said. "With some people I think, 'Why the hell are they carrying on? Just stop.' But with some (like Paul) I want them to carry on until they drop." Neither McCartney nor the Beatles are showing signs of dropping - and probably never will thanks to new audio/visual technology that allows today's generation to discover the Beatles.
This year saw the launch of the Wii Beatles rock band computer animation game, elements of which are featured during McCartney's Europe tour. And the Wii sales will rake in more cash for the former Beatle, who once left Hamburg owing debts to some local club owners - now paid back in full.