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Pop/Rock

Beatlemania - the hype began 50 years ago

On October 13, 1963, the Beatles had their first TV appearance. Some consider that the start of Beatlemania. Our author sees the beginnings in March 1963, when the Fab Four's first album came out.

The October concert by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in London had everything that would soon catapult the boys to worldwide stardom: deafening noise, screaming teenagers, chocolates and stuffed animals hurled on stage - the same things that were leading British politicians to express concern for youth.

The musicians onstage could hardly hear what they were playing over the din, especially with "She Loves You," whose drawn out "Yeah, yeah, yeah" became the battle cry of a generation.

Beatles fans carrying signs and shouting
Copyright: imago/United Archives

Scenes like this followed the band wherever they went

How it all began

But the hysteria didn't erupt on any one certain day. In early 1963, the Beatles scored their first number one single in the English Charts with "Please, Please Me." The first studio album, with the same title, appeared on March 22 after a hasty production lasting just a few hours and consisting of the songs the Fab Four played at their concerts.

By the final number, "Twist and Shout," singer John Lennon was audibly a bit hoarse. In April followed the single "From Me to You," which also hit number one. By then at the latest, the Beatles were clearly sweeping listeners into frenzies unlike anything that had ever been seen before in Europe.

The Beatles performing on stage surrounded by fans
Copyright: imago/United Archives

Ringo, John and George, surrounded by admirers

The fans in Germany

Germany eventually had its own Beatlemania - especially in Hamburg, where the Fab Four had spent several extended stays in the red light district of St. Pauli, playing in rock joints like "Top Ten" and "Kaiserkeller." They even recorded their first album there, as a supporting band to rocker Tony Sheridan. Among St. Pauli's standard clientele of drug dealers, prostitutes and sailors, the Beatles quickly made an impression - locally, at least.

Later - in 1966, and at a high point of the world's love affair with the group - they returned to Germany for a short concert tour, organized by the youth magazine "Bravo." They played in Essen, in Munich and in Hamburg, where they met up with old friends for a wild party.

During their time in Hamburg's red light district, the boys from Britain had become friends with a few German art students, who would go on to play a role in their lives and careers. Photographer Astrid Kirchherr told them they should comb their hair down into their foreheads instead of styling it up as rockers of the age were wont to do. The mop-top was born. Also a young man named Klaus Voormann, later a graphic designer and musician, is credited with having created the cover for the Beatles' LP "Revolver."

Article author Jens Thurau mimics a famous Beatles image on a London street
Foto: (Julia Thurau/ DW)

One of many fans: author Jens Thurau hot on the Beatles' trail

The fans worldwide

While Beatlemania got underway in England in 1963, teenagers in Germany - and in France, by the way - responded rather tepidly to the band. In 1964 - while the Beatles were playing like crazy in the U.S. - the band's record label even decided to try to woo German listeners with a special touch: re-recording the titles in German.

Thus "She Loves You" became "Sie liebt Dich," and "Komm Gib' mir Deine Hand" was the German take on "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Today these singles are favorites among hardcore Beatles fans in Germany and beyond. And the boys' linguistic efforts may just have paid off - soon Germany, like the rest of the world, had a bad case of Beatlemania.

DW.DE