Long-time Beatles collaborator Klaus Voormann has recalled getting to know George Harrison during The Beatles’ time in Hamburg in 1960. He also described how a young Harrison wasn’t yet the ‘quiet Beatle’ he would later be characterised as.
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In a new interview with Uncut, Voormann said: “The first time I saw George he was only 17 years of age. He was very different to how he was later. He was a cocky little boy! This band he was with was completely unknown. It was the autumn of 1960. In this club in Hamburg, the Kaiserkeller, they played for people to dance.”
This period of Beatles history is regarded as when they honed their performance skills, and so it’s perhaps unsurprising that they hadn’t yet mastered their defining songwriting just yet as Voormann explained: “George was singing all those funny songs, which he did later on a little bit, when he sat around and played ukulele. He was into songs like I’m Henry The Eighth, I Am, singing it all cockney. He would sing all those Eddie Cochran numbers too, like Twenty Flight Rock.”
Elsewhere, Voormann recalled how photographers Astrid Kirchherr and Jürgen Vollmer asked him to kick-start the years-long association the trio would have with The Beatles: “They were talking on stage in English and our English was not so hot. Eventually [Astrid and Jürgen] said to me, ‘Klaus, you speak English. Why don’t you make contact so we can meet them?’”
Kirchherr would go on to become one of the band’s most prolific photographers, while Vollmer would be best known for his photography of an early pre-Epstein incarnation of The Beatles. Kirchherr also became engaged to original Beatles bassist Stuard Sutcliffe before his death in 1962.
Voormann would go on to design the cover art for Revolver, for which we won a Grammy. He remained on good terms with the band, so much so that following The Beatles’ disbandment, rumours began circulating that he would be the bassist of a reformed Beatles, replacing Paul McCartney.
You can read Voormann’s full interview about the early days of the Beatles in the July 2021 edition of Uncut, out now.