Saga of the missing Beatles

The Beatles hamming it up at the Indra Club in Hamburg, Germany, August 17, 1960.

Long time followers of this blog may recall the cropped photo from The Beatles’ first engagement as professional musicians, at the Indra Club in Hamburg. At the time, August 17, 1960, The Beatles was a five man band, and the nucleus of John, Paul and George had added Stuart Sutcliffe on bass guitar and Pete Best on drums to their lineup. Prior to their engagement in Hamburg, Germany, The Beatles had been equipped with new, lilac jackets made by a tailor neighbour of Paul’s, according to an interview with George. The jackets were made before Pete joined the group, rendering him the odd man out even then.

After the Beatles had become famous, the story of their bar band days in Hamburg became interesting to magazine writers and this photo appeared:

The Beatles in the bar area at the Indra Club.

And this is the version of the photo you are most likely to see in books, in magazines and on the internet. However, when the same photo appeared in Pete Best’s documentary “Best of The Beatles”, it revealed that the ones we had seen so far were incomplete photos. The photo in the documentary also included the two other band members, Stuart and Pete. But unfortunately, the photo in the film was partially covered, only the top half of Stu and Pete was seen.

Two DVD editions of Pete Best’s documentary film.

Still, based on a screen dump of the image in the documentary, Beatles historian Chazz Avery was able to puzzle together this composite, which includes the missing Beatles:

Restoration by adding one of the missing pieces from a screen dump.

The next thing that happened was that Guus Limberger wrote to us and directed our attention to an image uploaded on the now defunct blog, The Gilly. This was the complete image, although it was rasterized and small in size. The source was apparently an auction catalogue from Sotheby’s.

The full image, but small and rasterized.

We used this image to create our own composite for display on this blog.

In this day and age, colourisation of old black and white photos is all the rage. And this photo is no exception. Here is a colourised edition of this photo which has been making the rounds on the internet for a while:

Someone’s colour project. But they only knew of the cropped photo and jacket colour was a wild guess.

Unfortunately, only the best known version of the photo with two Beatles missing, plus they didn’t get the colour of the jackets right. To the rescue then, Thorsten Knublauch. In his new book from Apcor publishing, “The Beatles Mach Schau in Hamburg” – which has a lot of colourised photos from the Hamburg days – he has the full photo. The jackets are correct, or at least they are lilac, and Pete’s jacket is in blue. “It was a lot of work reconstructing this from the half we had and the image from the Sotheby’s catalogue,” says Knublauch. Hubert Voorman did the colourising job.

The full image as it appear colourised for Thorsten Knublauch’s book, “The Beatles Mach Schau in Hamburg” from Apcor Publishing.

Shipment of the book has started and it is in limited quantities, so if you are planning to get yourself a copy, this is the link to purchasing it.

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2 Responses

  1. DukeViking says:

    Thank you Roger for this information. My most anticipated Beatles book of all time. Thank you for all you do on this Beatle blog.

  2. Thorsten Knublauch says:

    You will find the reconstructed photo in black in white in my book too.

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