I just heard an interview with Horst Fascher, the German club-owner who gave the Beatles their start in various clubs in the German port city of Hamburg in 1962. He’s written a book called (title in English, book in German) Let the Good Times Roll, about his adventurous life.
Fascher himself is a formerboxer who spent some time in prison for manslaughter, but also learned excellent English in the sea trade. Fascher realized the Beatles’ potential soon after he heard them. He invited them to play in clubs he managed, most notably the Star Club, provided them with accommodations (the Fab Four slept two to a room in a two-bedroom place), and even invited them home to share his mother’s stew, which she cooked in a big laundry-pot and flavored with plenty of meat that Fascher’s father, a butcher, brought home.
Fascher had plenty of juicy anecdotes. The Star Club, it seems, was no dinner theater. Things got moist and smoky and alcoholized. Paul McCartney handled it all gracefully — he really was the nice Beatle, according to Fascher. In fact, he still returns Fascher’s phone calls, although Fascher has to go through McCartney’s front office like everyone else, since McCartney has no cellphone.
John Lennon was much more difficult (George was introverted and thought only of his guitar). When a fan yelled something rude or spilled beer on him, Lennon might well call him a "fucking Nazi bastard." Not infrequently, Lennon jumped into the crowd and started mixing it up. Fascher stepped in to prevent Lennon getting beaten to a pulp. Fascher introduced the Beatles to Hamburg’s infamous red-light district, St. Pauli, and recorded their amazement at how realistic German transvestites looked. Fascher also hinted, with some amusement, that he made sure the boys always had "the things they needed" when they decided to "pay visits" to that part of the city.
Fascher’s mother, German to the core, asked the Beatles what they were doing about washing their underthings. The Fab Four replied modestly that they washed them in the sink in their communal apartment. "Nonsense!" she said, "you’ll only turn them gray that way. Bring them over here and I’ll wash them." So the Beatles packed up their sweaty underwear and brought it to Fascher’s mother’s place for a thorough German scrubbing. I wonder how much a 44-year-old pair of John Lennon’s underwear would fetch these days?
There’s much more in the whole interview, which you can download here. Two warnings: the interview’s in German, and West German Radio’s links often don’t work…