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ASTRID and HAMBURG

George, Stu, Pete, Brian, And Ringo People came and went during the reign of Beatlemania. After the split of The Quarrymen, John and Paul were still jamming together. And luckily for them, they met George Harrison who joined them eagerly in 1958. John, after persuading his best mate Stuart "Stu" Sutcliffe to take up bass, and linking up with pretty boy drummer Pete Best, formed The Beatles after a couple of name changes (Johnny And The Moondogs, The Silver Beetles). On August 17, 1960, The Beatles took on Hamburg, Germany at the Indra Club. (Indra closed a month later and The Beatles changed camp to the KaiserKeller Club.) That three-month stay in Hamburg changed a lot of things. The Beatles were a lot wiser by then. ("I grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool," says John.) And a fateful meeting with an Astrid Kircherr helped them to achieve their distinct mop-top look. Stu fell for the artsy photographer Astrid, and left the band for love. Stu later died of a brain haemorrhage, and foul play was suspected on John's part, the implication being that he was interested in Astrid himself, though many have said that John was in fact jealous of Astrid's hold over Stu. After Hamburg, The Beatles took on the Cavern in Liverpool. Girls came, and their fame spread. On November 9, 1961, Brian Epstein, the NEMS store manager, went to check out The Beatles at the Cavern because all his customers had been asking for The Beatles' first recording with Tony Sheridan, "My Bonnie." Charmed by The Beatles' stage presence, talent, and tight pants (so they say), Brian offered his managerial skills to the band after their second meeting. The Beatles accepted. Determined to clinch a record deal for his first group, Brian approached various record labels to sign The Beatles. After a series of rejections (the famous line "groups with guitars are on the way out" being uttered by Decca A&R man Dick Rowe), Brian finally got the nod from EMI/Parlophone producer George Martin, who promised to give the boys an audition. And then came the ultimatum. George agreed to give them a record deal on one condition: they had to get another drummer. So it was bye bye Pete, and hello Ringo Starr!


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