DescriptionThe Beatles At The Top Ten Club Signed Photograph by Gerd Mingram, Spring 1961 (Germany, Printed 1990s). A black and white photograph by Gerd Mingram (1910-2001), known as "Germin," and signed by the photographer in the border in black marker lower right. Measures approximately 12" x 9.5", with the image measuring approximately 10.75" x 8". In Very Good condition. Image taken 1961, printed later. Sticker on verso notes that the image copyright is held by MPL Communications Ltd.
The Beatles' second tour of Hamburg in Spring 1961 may be the period of the most reckless behavior by the group. Sharing the stage at the Top Ten Club with Tony Sheridan, and with accommodations just upstairs in the club's attic, these young men away from the constraints of home (George and Paul still in their teens) indulged in plenty of girls, booze, and speed, in the form of a prescription stimulant known as Preludin. The hours at the Top Ten were extremely long, and the "Prellies" helped them play until the wee hours of the morning - and led to plenty of outrageous onstage antics. In this photo from the Top Ten, Paul and John are cavorting front and center, both down on their knees, with Stuart and George looking down upon them with expressions of much bemusement. A couple dances in front of them, little do they know that the wild-acting young men on stage will one day be thought of as the greatest pop group in history. The man at bottom right is Wilfrid Schultz, more on him below.
Gerd Mingram (1910-2001) was a German photojournalist active from the 1920s through the 1970s. Under a commission from a German trade union newspaper, he took a series of photographs at the Top Ten Club in the Spring of 1961, exact date unknown, showing the five-piece Beatles on stage. In the series, two notorious Hamburg toughs were also captured: Walter Sprenger (not pictured here), who joined the band onstage and apparently sang with them, and Wilfrid Schulz, a reputed murderer known as the king of the Hamburg underworld, whom the press called "Der Pate von St. Pauli" (The Godfather of St. Pauli), and who appears bottom right in Mingram's photo. Tony Sheridan said of Schulz, "I saw him in action and he enjoyed hurting people." The Beatles often had to accommodate late night visits and requests from Hamburg "gangsters". In the 1980s Paul McCartney purchased the rights to a number of Mingram's photos of the Beatles, including this one. From the Ulf Kruger Archive.
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