Beatles fans may have Hamburg lodged in their memories as the port where it all began for three of the Fab Four. It’s the city where the young John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison honed their skills, performing several sets a night in smokey bars, whilst simultaneously getting a taste for the famous art scene and making life-long friends in the process.
It’s all part of a musical and cultural legacy that the city of Hamburg holds dear to this day, with the city playing host to the annual Reeperbahn Festival for the last 12 years. The Reeperbahn Festival is Germany’s equivalent to our very own Great Escape Festival, except they got there first (just about). It’s a massive party for the European music industry, with over 900 events scheduled at this year’s festival, which takes place next month around Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, from 19th to 22nd September.
A major highlight at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival will undoubtedly be the special exhibition on Klaus Voormann celebrating his 80th birthday. It Started In Hamburg – Graphic Arts 1958-2018 will celebrate Voorman’s incredible career as an artist. Voormann met The Beatles in those early Hamburg days, and famously went on to illustrate the iconic sleeve for their Revolver album.
Voormann, who is also a celebrated musician and record producer, was so close to the band that he moved into their shared London house with Harrison and Ringo Starr, after Lennon and McCartney moved out of town. Voormann played bass on several post-Beatles solo recordings and was at one point rumoured to be in a new band featuring all The Beatles apart from McCartney.
However, you don’t have to travel all the way to Germany to get a taste of the famous Hamburg culture, as the Reeperbahn Festival organisers have been promoting the festival by taking Hamburg on Tour this summer, including the free Hamburg Festival in London’s Brick Lane this weekend (1st and 2nd September).
The Hamburg Festival is completely free, featuring a diverse live music programme which includes acts drawn from classical, jazz, indie, rock, pop and heavy metal. There’s also food and drink to taste, art exhibitions and an installation, and even a taste of Stefanie Hempel’s famous Beatles tour.