Beatles 1960 Kaiserkeller Hand-Painted Concert Sign – Outrageously Historic, Pt. 1

A very rare Beatles Hamburg concert poster dating to the fall of 1960 for their two-month residency at the Kaiserkeller club.

This poster is historic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the earliest known advertising poster for live music by “The Beatles.”

This Beatles Kaiserkeller poster board is a hand-painted original, not something that was printed on a printing press.

It is the only one known of this size… the other two known specimens are large, paper door signs, much bigger than this.

19 by 26 inches is the approximate size of this Beatles German window card, making it perfect for framing as a standard-sized poster.

It was painted on cardboard, not paper, and done by local graphic artist Erwin Ross.

Finding any Beatles 1960 in-person poster is a supreme challenge for collectors; they’re all one-off’s, because of the hand-done aspect.

As of the time of this writing, there are several known printed 1961 Fab Four concert posters, but zero from 1960; thus the challenge I speak of.

This Beatles Kaiserkeller broadside is delightfully eye-catching with its bright yellow, red, light blue, black and even white coloring. It’s hard to imagine walking by this and not stopping to look.

It’s unknown if this was posted inside the club, outside the club in perhaps a window box, or elsewhere around the city, to draw patrons to the establishment.

But who would want to take down & save a Beatles Hamburg placard back then? The Fabs were totally unknown, as was Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, so their genre of music (“Rock ’n Roll”) got top billing.

I’ll tell you who would save one: the musicians, the band members. Each group had five musicians, so right there, there’s 10 chances somebody’s gonna save one.

And as a matter of fact, Hurricanes guitarist Ty Brian is the one who saved this particular Beatles German show poster.

Sadly, Mr. O’Brien passed away in the late 1960s. But his relatives kept a trunk of his containing music mementos, and this poster was made public for the first time in 2014.

Up until then, the only Beatles 1960 window display we knew of were actually door displays, as I’ve mentioned. So it was electrifying to find this more “normal-sized” item, very frame-worthy, after all those decades.

Actually, the door signs can be displayed in a frame as well, they’re just more unwieldy due to their size.  You really need a large wall space.

In my video, you’ll notice that this Beatles Kaiserkeller billboard is already museum-quality framed. It’s the perfect framing job.

It was framed in “floating style,” not matted, so you can clearly see all of the poster’s edges, on all four sides.

In fact, a piece of this Beatles Hamburg concert placard was detached when it was found by the family in 2014.  It was subsequently reattached at the time of framing.

In my video, if you look closely you can make out the area where this chunk had come off… it’s in the lower left, mostly involving the word “Rory.”

It’s funny how this Beatles German window poster says “and his Hurican” under Rory Storm’s name. At first, I thought that was just the German spelling for “Hurricanes.”

But no, it’s not. So I speculate in this video that maybe “Hurican” was an homage to Chuck Berry using that unique word in his song “Rock ’n’ Roll Music,” which surely these bands performed.

But it’s interesting how this Beatles 1960 show placard uses both English and German to get its message across.  I’d say there’s an equal number of words in both languages.

But most of the words in English are names, so shouldn’t be translated, and most of the words in German carry information the customers had to know.

Unlike the white door sign which has been copied endlessly, this yellow Beatles Kaiserkeller event poster has never been reproduced in any way. Part of that, of course, is due to the fact that it just surfaced in 2014.

Perhaps it’s just a matter of time, but then, there’s no real need with the white one out there with such ubiquity.

Speaking of which, in my video I show you the paper reproduction of the white Beatles Hamburg concert sign. You’ll recognize it right away; it’s been used everywhere for decades now.

It’s the blue one that’s the other rare image, and in my video I show you a photograph of that one, too.  Last I heard it was hanging in the Hard Rock Café in Berlin.

To call this Beatles German street sign “seminal” is an understatement. Other than a Quarry Men concert advertisement, it would be hard to find anything from the outset of their career like this.

And if you did, it would be for a drummerless outfit; the Beatles enlisted Pete Best on skins just before departing for their first trip to Hamburg this summer.

The venue, Kaiserkeller, is blasted across the top of this Beatles 1960 appearance poster, in red paint.  Translated to English, that literally means “emperor’s basement.”

And then “Tanzpalast der Jugend” translates in English to “dance palace of the young,” or more succinctly, “youth dance palace.” One must remember that rock ’n’ roll was entirely a youth-oriented activity in its first 10 years of existence.

Despite the band’s two-month stay at this venue, it’s not easy to find any Beatles Kaiserkeller concert memorabilia.  Tickets were never made, and it appears that handbills were not, either.

Signed pay receipts may be all there is from the boys’ 1960 days in Hamburg, and those are very rare and pricey, of course.

Speaking of a two-month stay… notice how three months are given on this Beatles Hamburg street poster. October, November and December are all listed.

But John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete were not destined to play here in the month of December… their final show was November 30.  They were both disgusted with club owner Bruno Koschmider, and 17-year-old George was deported for being underage.

Notice how promoter Koschmider gave himself a huge credit on his cardboard German Beatles poster.   “Presenting Bruno Koschmider,” it proclaims in bold red script.

The trouble is, Koschmider was just the money man behind the scenes, not one of the performers that people would pay to see.  But you wouldn’t know it from this poster… I’d say it was a healthy ego move on his part.

The proper wording for this Beatles 1960 concert placard would’ve been, “Bruno Koschmider Presents…” and then list the Rock ’n Roll bands, etc.

Just to be sure of all this, I closely consulted a friend fluent in German to translate the word “Prasentiert” that is found just before Bruno’s name.

One of my favorite aspects of this Beatles Kaiserkeller concert sign is the way it says “England – Liverpool” down at the bottom. In nice black print, the final thing on the poster.

At first I thought that was just for The Beatles… exactly where they hailed from. Then I realized it was for both bands: Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were also from Liverpool, so it totally applies to both.

Some collectors who covet a Beatles Hamburg event poster in their collection might want to opt for the 1962 Star-Club one, which was actually printed on paper so their chances of finding one are greater.

But interestingly, you don’t find any more Fab Four fame on that poster… once again, their name is in tiny print down at the bottom. I’ll eventually blog that poster as well, when I come across an original.

This Beatles German show placard is happily the subject of this video done by me, Pete Howard, a first-generation Beatles fan and long-time serious collector. Please know that I pay the BEST PRICES IN THIS HOBBY, period, for original vintage Beatles concert memorabilia, 1957-66. I can be reached through pete@postercentral.com or called in California / U.S.A. on (805) 540-0020.

And to see more examples of early Beatle concert posters and signs, just head one page away to this treat right here on my site: http://www.postercentral.com/beatles.htm

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