George Harrison, Bambi Kino, Hamburg, autumn 1960. Photo © The Harrison Family.
On 21 November 1960, George was deported from Germany after the police discovered he was only seventeen years old, and, as such, not allowed out past the legal curfew.
“We would be sitting up on the bandstand, while all this [ID check] went on. The Kontrolle would turn on all the club lights and the band would have to stop playing. Men would go around the tables, checking IDs.
It went on for two months before the penny dropped as to what they were actually saying: ‘Everybody under eighteen years old get out.’ I was only seventeen and I was sitting with the band and getting worried, and eventually somebody did find out; I don’t know how. We didn’t have any work permits or visas, and with me under-age they stated closing in on us; then one day the police came and booted me out.
I had to go back home and that was right at a critical time, because we’d just been offered a job at another club down the road, the Top Ten, which was a much cooler club. In our hour off from fhe Kaiserkeller we’d go there to watch [Tony] Sheridan or whoever was playing. The manager had poached us from Bruno Koschmider and we’d already played a couple of times there. There was a really good atmosphere in that club. It had a great sound-system, it looked much better and they paid a bit more money.
Here we are, leaving the Kaiserkeller to go to the Top Ten, really eager to go there - and right at that point they came and kicked me out of town. So I was moving out to go home and they were moving out to go to this great club.
Astrid, and probably Stuart, dropped me at Hamburg station. It was a long journey on my own on the train to the Hook of Holland. From there I got the day boat. It seemed to take ages and I didn’t have much money - I was praying I’d have enough. I had to get from Harwich to Liverpool Street Station and then a taxi across to Euston. From there I got a train to Liverpool. I can remember it now: I had an amplifier that I’d bought in Hamburg and a crappy suitcase and things in boxes, paper bags with my clothes in, and a guitar. I had too many things to carry and was standing in the corridor of the train with my belongings around me, and lots of soldiers on the train, drinking. I finally got to Liverpool and took a taxi home - I just about made it. I got home penniless. It took everything I had to get me back home.
I had returned to England, on my own and all forlorn, but as it turned out, Paul and Pete were booted out at the same time and were already back ahead of me. It seems Bruno didn’t want The Beatles to leave his club and, as there had been an accidental fire, he has got the police in.
Bruno said that they were burning his cinema down and they took Pete and Paul and put them in the police station on the Reeperbahn for a few hours and then flew them back to England. Deported them. Then John came back a few days after then, because there was no point in him staying and Stuart stayed for a bit because he’d decided to get together with Astrid. It was great, a reprieve, otherwise I had visions of our band staying out there with me stuck in Liverpool, and that would be it.” - George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology