Image: Rockmuseum München, Foto: Rainer Schwanke/Archiv Herbert Hauke
June 1966: Germany went wild over The Beatles' blitz tour
Silke Wünsch / ad
June 22, 2016
Before The Beatles set out on their blitz tour of Germany in June 1966, "Beatlemania" hadn't yet infected Germany. They swooped in for six short shows - and the hype surrounding the English musicians proved contagious.
The Fab Four arrived in Germany in June 1966, brought to the country by the German youth magazine "Bravo." it was their first visit since 1962 and this time, Beatlemania infected not only the fans, but also the media which had long been covering the ascention of the "four choirboys from Liverpool" with more suspicion than curiosity. Still, there was a bit of fascination. And exactly that mix determined the way in which the band's three-day visit to Germany was received: with mass hysteria throughout the country. Beatlemania had arrived in Germany.
It was no longer possible to simply ignore the masses of long-haired teenagers that had emerged from fusty post-war Germany and were considered crazy. Newspapers interviewed psychologists to help explain the bizarre behavior of these youngsters, reassuring readers that they shouldn't really be seen as a danger to society.
Fears of riots proved to unfounded. But in the eyes of many people, the conglomerations of screaming teenagers - most of them girls wearing miniskirts - were scary enough. They were awating The Beatles at Munich airport, screaming. They were besieging their hotel, screaming. They were going to concerts, screaming.
Every detail was noteworthy
The media were closely watching every step the Fab Four took. The sensationalist daily "Münchener Abendzeitung" claimed to have observed how the four gentlemen withdrew to their hotel suites upon their arrival, listening to music and drinking tea with milk and lemon. Later in the evening, a pool party took place on the hotel roof especially for them. While Paul swam in the pool, the others preferred to drink whisky.
Also, The Beatles' breakfast was described in minute detail: "The Beatles sleep a lot, they eat rather simple meals, and they drink heavily," noted the "Mittag," a daily from the Ruhr region. "Their breakfast consisted of tea with milk and cornflakes. Paul and Ringo had bacon and fried eggs, whereas George and John insisted on having steak filets and salads. The waiter served them no less than six bottles of Coca Cola, three bottles of whisky, two bottles of wine, and 36 bottles of Seven-up." The fans were so voraciously absorbing every detail, it can well be presumed that the media were quite inventive in adding a few more juicy details.
Noise, uproar and yelling
After giving two concerts in Munich, the Fab Four traveled on to Essen to give yet another two concerts before taking the night train to Hamburg. According to rumours, they didn't get any sleep there, as they preferred to party.
The fans, making a lot of noise and collapsing here and there, continued to attract a lot of attention. But things were about to get worse. During The Beatles' second concert in Hamburg, "Rowdies" gathered outside, roaming through the streets, smashing windows, knocking over cars. The newspapers obviously had a problem distinguishing between the fans and the rowdies, as to most of them, the events inside the concert halls could only have been the work of the devil.
Girls were reported to have torn off their clothes, and others were said to be in dire need of psychologcial treatment for their screaming fits. The Cologne-based daily "Kölnische Rundschau" even reported on two boys who had to be carried away after having lost consciousness in a fit of ecstasy.
And so much noise! After The Beatles had upgraded their old 100-watt amplifiers to 150-watts, observers feared that concertgoers could suffer permanent ear damage; others expressed concern over the safety of the roof construction in the concert halls. At this point, nobody could probably imagine that only ten years later, Deep Purple would be using 10,000 watt amplifiers.
Let the kids have fun
After three days, The Beatles left for Japan abd German media sighed in relief. Beatlemania had waned, the collective hysteria was over. The hotels happily noted that no furniture had been demolished with the sole exception of nine broken chairs in Hamburg. Some clear-headed journalists exhorted their readers to calm down. Actor Harald Leipnitz, back then very popular, wrote in a column: "Their hair may be too long, but it is well-kempt. Their shirts may be extravagant, but they are clean. I like The Beatles."
Leipnitz ended his editorial by reminding the older Germans of their past: "We adults who have lived through an era of fatal political hysteria should be a bit more tolerant towards young people who are enthusiastic about rather harmless things."