The Jets, The Beatles And Hamburg 
by Rick Hardy aka Rick Richards, original member of The Jets 

In late May or in the first couple of days in June 1960 a German club owner 
named Bruno Koschmider flew to London to seek out a British rock band to play in 
his club, 'Der Kaiserkeller' which was situated in the notorious red light 
district of Saint Pauli in Hamburg. He found his way to a coffee bar called 'The 
2.Is' in London's nearest equivalent to Saint Pauli, Soho. I say the nearest 
equivalent because although Soho had a reputation as a tough district, compared 
to Saint Pauli it was a sleepy village! 

The 2.Is coffee bar (entitled after the two brothers named Irani, who although 
they owned it, played no part in its management) was the hub of the rock 
business in England at the time. This was remarkable as it was exceptionally 
small, and the cellar where the groups played could hold no more than a hundred 
or so standing, even when packed to the doors. The manager Paul Lincoln however, 
managed most of the top 'teenage acts' in England at the time, so it was no 
surprise that it was used as a hangout by rock musicians. In the 2.Is Bruno 
Koschmider met a pianist by the name of Iain Hines who agreed to put a six piece 
group together for him. Iain had up till then led several bands all of which he 
called the Jets, and this is what he called the band destined for Hamburg. The 
story that he made up the name on the spur of the moment is I'm afraid just a 
myth! The band selected to go consisted of myself (as Rick Richards) on rhythm 
guitar and vocals, Iain Hines on piano, Colin Melander (Crawley) on guitar and 
vocals, Pete Wharton on bass, and talented multi-instrumentalist Jimmy (Del) 
Ward on drums, keyboards and vocals. The now legendary Tony Sheridan was finally 
asked to come although most of us had reservations about his selection, as his 
punctuality and reliabilty had already cost him TV appearances. I suppose the 
fact that he was by far the best lead guitarist on the scene made up for a lot! 

We quickly made our passport arrangements, but when we arrived together on the 
4th. of June 1960 to get the 10.05am train from Liverpool Street station in 
London, to the coastal town of Harwich to catch the boat, Iain HInes was 
missing. We never found out why he didn't turn up, but I believe the reason 
could have been domestic! So although Bruno Koschmider had booked a six piece 
band he only got five. Mind you he never complained. He liked the band and it 
saved him money! Although Iain missed playing at the opening we did bring him 
over a few months later. 

And so it was that on the 5th. of June 1960 the first British rock and roll band 
opened in Hamburg. After playing for just over a month at the Kaiserkeller came 
the incident that eventually was to bring the Beatles to this city. Our success 
at the Kaiserkeller, (and the huge crowds that came with it), had not gone 
unnoticed by a club owner by the name of Peter Eckhorn who had a large 
establishment on the Reeperbahn, which is the main street in Saint Pauli. 
Eckhorn was having difficulty finding a profitable use for his premises and by 
enlisting the help of a certain Horst Fascher, who had befriended the band, 
managed to poach us from the Kaiserkeller. We got more money and better 
accommodation from Eckhorn but I suppose in retrospect we didn't really 'play 
the game' with Bruno. We were still under contract, but although my memories of 
the event have faded a bit, I think we just did as we were told! Anyway the 
upshot was that we played our last date at the Kaiserkeller on the sixth of July 
1960 and opened at Eckhorn's club (which we named the Top Ten) three days later 
on Saturday the ninth of July. 
   
      The Jets at The Top Ten Club, Hamburg, July 1960.
      The front line left to right: Pete Wharton (bass), Colin Melander 
      (guitar), Tony Sheridan (guitar), Rick Hardy (guitar).
      Photo  Rick Richards.

Now Eckhorn had all the business and Koschmider had none. I have a great deal of 
sympathy with Koschmider. He has been much maligned in print, and in my opinion 
unfairly so. He had set up the whole Hamburg scene, paid good money to the 
bands, (much more than German musicians were getting), and now others were 
taking advantage of his efforts. Koschmider could not afford to let his club 
remain empty and so he set out once more for London and the 2.Is coffee bar. 
Here Koschmider met for the first time the Liverpudlian 'would be' entrepreneur 
Alan Williams; a meeting that proved to be historic. 

Alan Williams had coincidentally brought down from Liverpool a band called 
'Derry and the Seniors' that evening for an audition at the 2.Is and he 
persuaded Koschmider to use them as our replacements at the Kaiserkeller. A few 
weeks later Koschmider engaged through Alan Williams the Beatles to play at 
another club he owned called the 'Indra'. The Indra although in the same street 
as the Kaiserkeller (the Grosse Freiheit) was someway away from it where the 
main crowd never seemed to reach, and consequently didn't get the custom it 
should have. We (The Jets) went to see the Beatles there and honestly were not 
over impressed. They were quite raw, had little idea of showmanship and at that 
time of course didn't do any original material. Bruno Koschmider would shout out 
at them whilst on stage, 'Mach Schau, Mach Schau' - 'Make a show!' My God how 
quickly they learned! 

Later Koschmider transferred the Beatles to the Kaiserkeller and it was apparent 
how much they had improved. They were now much more professional but what I 
remember most from those early performances was the sight of bass player Stuart 
Sutcliffe playing and singing the old Carl Perkins song 'Matchbox'. He looked 
really different from the other Beatles. In retrospect he seemed something of a 
lonely figure, and he didn't even look like the other members of the group. The 
rest of the Beatles were dressed casually and irregularly whilst Stuart 
deliberately tried to look like James Dean. I don't think it was a surprise when 
he left the group. I would describe it as more like inevitable. 

I didn't have any trouble getting on with the Beatles, they were just normal 
friendly people. The only exception was John Lennon. I know I'm going to upset 
some people by saying this, but I found him somewhat bitter and sarcastic. I 
remember once whilst making a visit to Hamburg in May or June 1962 when the 
Beatles were playing at the newly opened Star Club, asking John how Stuart was 
getting on at art college. His reply was a terse 'He's bleeding dead!'. Of 
course the Beatles at that time were not yet famous and his passing was of no 
interest to the media, therefore I had no knowledge of his death. I must admit 
that I was less shocked by the news of Stuart's demise (which was only a month 
or so earlier) as by Johns apparent reaction to it. I am sure his attitude was 
only a front and was if anything a sign of insecurity. Whether he changed after 
stardom I don't know, but his habit of looking for a smartarse answer I found 
somewhat distasteful. If anyone thinks that being a super rich superstar 
prevents someone from being insecure I would disagree with them. Quite honestly 
with John's early childhood experiences it would be an enormous surprise if he 
didn't have some hangups, and although it would be difficult for me to remember 
him with great affection, it is very easy to remember him as a genius of modern 
song writing and a great campaigner for human rights. 

Sometimes when the Jets were at the Top Ten the Beatles would come in during a 
break at the Kaiserkeller and sit in with us. This would have been after July 
1960 and before November 1960 because in late September or early October of that 
year we finished at the Top Ten and then shortly afterwards the Beatles were 
deported. During these joint sessions the Beatles really showed how much they 
had improved. They of course at that period had not yet discovered their song 
writing talent but they were developing amongst other things their harmonies. I 
remember John and Paul doing a particularly nice version of 'True Love'. Not a 
song one would readily associate with them and I don't recall them recording 
it!. 

Hamburg's St. Pauli district was (and still is) a tough area with enough 
excitement in it without having to fictionalise events, but still journalists 
who were not even alive at the time, let alone in Hamburg, still insist on 
believing the most utter rubbish about what happened there. The Beatles never 
urinated over nuns and even the incident where they were accused of arson in the 
Bambi cinema which got them deported, was only an attempt to obtain light when 
they tried to remove there luggage in the dark. I know Bruno Koschmider was 
responsible for informing the police but personally I think he had had enough of 
Peter Eckhorn's tactics of stealing his bands. He had already done it with us 
and he was about to do it again with the Beatles, for they were attempting to 
move into the Top Ten in the room vacated by us. Just remember he had gone to 
England to get the bands, arranged and paid for the travel and all Eckhorn was 
doing was acting like a parasite. This he was able to do mainly I think because 
of the protection of the Hamburg gangsters. 

I've read too that Koschmider was paying us 'peanuts'. Absolute rubbish! We were 
getting at least double what an average German earned and on top of this we had 
free accommodation. I know it wasn't luxurious but if we had wanted we could 
have afforded to go elsewhere. I was with John Lennon when he purchased his 
famous Rickenbacker guitar from Musikhaus Hummel in the centre of Hamburg. It 
was a very expensive instrument and he paid for it cash. You can't do that on 
peanuts! Incidentally John didn't go in to specifically buy a Rickenbacker. It 
so happened that it was the only American guitar in stock and he went for it. I 
wouldn't presume to say that my admiration for the guitar swayed John's decicion 
to buy it, but it's nice to think it might have been! Maybe if for instance they 
had only an Epiphone or a Gretsch in stock he would have bought something 
different. I bet that would have made a sizeable difference to Rickenbacker's 
profitability in the 1960's if he had done so! 

I haven't mentioned much of Tony Sheridan up till now and this is because his 
'time' in Hamburg didn't really take off until much later when he made those 
legendary tracks with the Beatles. When he was with the Jets he was just one of 
four singers available and we were very much a group. It has been erroneously 
reported many times that Tony Sheridan came to Hamburg as a solo singer and the 
rest of us were just his backing band. I'm afraid that this was just a spin put 
out by his then manager when there was no one from the original group around to 
contradict it. 

Halfway through our stint at the Top Ten club Peter Eckhorn decided that he 
wanted non-stop music. Up until then we had adopted a pattern of playing and 
taking breaks that we had originally instigated at the Kaiserkeller, namely one 
hour of playing 'flat out' followed by breaks of thirty minutes. It was decided 
that I should travel with Horst Fascher (who was now ensconced as the manager of 
the Top Ten) to England to get two more musicians and allow us to split into two 
bands. One of them would be the Tony Sheridan Trio consisting of himself, Pete 
Wharton on bass and a drummer that used to sit in with us now and again Tony 
Cavanaugh. Tony Cavanaugh was a black ex GI and a very good man with the sticks. 
The new Jets would consist of myself, Jimmy Ward on drums and Colin Melander 
switching to bass. The group would be augmented by the two musicians that I 
would bring over from England, Chas. Beaumont (Charles McDonnell) on lead guitar 
and the guy who didn't make it the first time round, pianist Iain Hines. That 
was the idea but the plans were somewhat altered when the car that brought us 
back to Germany from England was involved in a crash on the autobahn. Horst 
Fascher and another German, whom Horst had brought along to share the driving, 
escaped almost unscathed but I sustained injuries serious enough to keep me in 
hospital for 18 days.. Fortunately the two musicians followed by boat and train 
a couple of days later, and so avoided the crash. 

On my release from hospital Horst showed me the wreck of his Volkswagen. I had 
been asleep in the front seat at the time of the crash and hadn't awoken until I 
was being wheeled into the ward after emergency surgery, and so I wasn't 
prepared for what I saw. The side of the car where I had been sitting in the 
front seat was completely demolished where the relief driver had driven into the 
back of a truck. His side of the car was relatively undamaged but I had been 
literally thrown through the windshield! Horst was sleeping on the back seat but 
he must have had a rude awakening. When I was in England I decided to bring back 
with me a beautiful valve guitar amplifier that I had left behind when I first 
came over. It was now almost a total wreck. The luggage compartment in a VW 
beetle is in the front and the only thing that survived was the amplifiers 
loudspeaker. At the time Paul McCartney wanted to build a 'monitor' cabinet and 
so I sold the speaker to him. I asked forty marks for it but in the finish I 
accepted twenty, which was at the time I think around five dollars. Today I 
think he would be able to afford my asking price! 
 
      Beat Brothers & Jets reunion in Hamburg, August 21, 1999.
      Left to right: Colin Melander, Peter Wharton, Tony Sheridan, Rick Hardy
      Photo  Rick Richards.

After the bands had finished working for the night in Hamburg, (which was 
usually around three o'clock in the morning) we often used to meet at the 
various bars and clubs that were open 24 hours a day. One of our favorite ones 
was a place called the 'Nimitz'. The Nimitz had one of those miniature bowling 
machines that deliver the balls automatically, and Stuart Sutcliffe used to 
remark how sexy it looked as the balls 'squeezed' their way out of the delivery 
hole. I hadn't noticed it up till then but of course Stuart was the artist. 

Ringo of course hadn't joined the Beatles yet although he was in Hamburg at the 
same time. He was very good and playing with the ill fated Rory Storm. Rory was 
an excellent singer and performer but off stage had the most terrible stutter. 
We were all stunned when we heard later that he had taken his own life. Pete 
Best was the only drummer that I ever saw play with the Beatles in Hamburg and 
though he was adequate for live gigs his deficiencies became obvious in the 
recording studio. Ringo apparantly had the reputation as the best drummer in the 
'pool (Liverpool) but I wonder if they would have gotten rid of Pete if they 
hadn't had pressure applied by the record company. And would success have come 
exactly as it did? 

Just before the Jets finished at the Top Ten a German record producer for the 
Philips label heard me in the club. He had some songs that he thought would suit 
me and asked if I would like to record them. The next day I went into the studio 
and in something like three hours learned and recorded what I thought was a test 
recording of two songs. They were not rock and roll and quite frankly I was 
astonished when they were issued! They were not my choice of material but the 
experience did make me the first Hamburg rocker to record in Germany. I must 
mention here that the record was released under my real name Richard Hardy, (it 
wasn't supposed to be), and so I decided to use the name Hardy from that time in 
case it became a hit. I always was an optimist! I've used my real name ever 
since except that I kept the 'Rick' part. In May of 1999 I was surprised and 
delighted to get an invitation from Bear Family Records to attend a record 
launch of a CD dedicated solely to Hamburg rockers who had recorded in the 
German language, and which included my tracks. It is interesting to note that of 
the 28 songs on the album only two are not by members of the Jets - when you 
count in our adopted member Tony Cavanaugh. Naturally the bulk of the CD is 
taken up by the 'teacher' Tony Sheridan (13 tracks) and includes the version of 
'My Bonnie' with the German intro. As this track includes Paul, John and George 
I am proud to say that I share a CD with the Beatles!!! 

After we finished at the Top Ten in October 1960 I was lucky enough to get an 
offer to join a package show that was touring the US bases in Southern Germany 
which led to my staying in the Frankfurt area for around ten years! Jimmy Ward 
stayed in Europe working and recording with top Indonesian bands until he 
finally disappeared around 1969. Peter Wharton stayed on for a while playing 
bass for Sheridan who remained at the Top Ten playing on a casual basis. Colin 
Melander got himself a day job in Germany but after a while went back to playing 
bass with German rock bands, and then later with Tony Sheridan when Pete Wharton 
returned to England to run the family business after his father died. Colin 
eventually returned to England in 1965. The drummer, Tony Cavanaugh started to 
concentrate more on his singing, and he too had a good recording career in 
Germany with five of his tracks on the aforementioned CD. 

After spending just over a year in Frankfurt I paid a visit to Hamburg in 1962 
(as I mentioned before) about a month or so after the Star Club had opened. The 
Beatles were in residence as were the Tony Sheridan Trio and the Roy Young band. 
When I was in Hamburg before, Horst Fascher particularly liked two songs that I 
did - 'I Go Ape' and 'C'mon Everybody' and when he saw me in the Star Club (he 
was the manager) he asked me to sing them with the Beatles. I was happy to 
oblige and borrowed John's Rickenbacker to do it. That was the last time that I 
played together with the Beatles and as it turned out the only time that I 
performed at the Star Club. I wasn't paid for it but at least I feel that I'm 
entitled to wear my Star Club lapel badge! 

Tony Sheridan made his first records in Hamburg in June 1961 and it was from 
here that his career started to take off. He can claim quite rightly that it was 
not on the backs of the Beatles. The records were hits in Germany before the 
Beatles were even heard of, nationally or internationally. Of course later on 
when it became known that the Beatles were his backing group on those early 
records it did Tony no harm! Whilst we are talking about Tony's records I might 
mention that on a recent radio show in England I heard the interviewer ask a 
Hamburg musician if he had ever heard the Beatles play 'My Bonnie'. He answered 
that he hadn't. Of course he hadn't. It was a Tony Sheridan speciality which he 
had often performed when we played together in the 2.Is coffee bar back in those 
far off days of the late 1950's. 

In August 1999 I was again invited to Hamburg. This time to guest with a reunion 
band consisting of Colin Melander bass, Rikki Barnes on tenor sax and Johnny 
Watson on drums, all of which had played in the 1960's with Tony Sheridan's 
backing group 'The Beat Brothers'. I managed to persuade my long-time friend and 
original Jets bass player Pete Wharton to come over and so only Jimmy Ward was 
absent. We did shows with Tony Sheridan and needless to say we all had the time 
of our lives, wallowing in nostalgia and enjoying the ample television coverage. 
We were all treated like living legends! 

I am still active in showbizz (you can check out what I do now on my web site if 
you like. It's www.showbizz.co.uk/rhardy) and I have a current CD on the English 
Hallmark label. Pete Wharton is presently employed as a test driver for a major 
car company, and Colin Melander now works part time as a librarian, after 
retiring from the Police force in which he reached the rank of inspector. Tony 
Sheridan still lives in Germany with his German wife where he is a respected 
cult personality. Of Jimmy Ward we have alas no information as to his 
whereabouts. Jimmy Ward (real name, James Macken) was Irish and may be back in 
Erins Isle. Tony Cavanaugh we have discovered is back in his home town of 
Indianapolis but unfortunately has been confined to a nursing home since 
suffering an aneurism. Tragically his father states that he has no memory of his 
past life. 



The CD mentioned in the text is called 'Damals in Hamburg' (Once Upon A Time In 
Hamburg) and is on Bear Family Records BCD 16284 AR. 

copyright RICK HARDY SEPT. 2001 

Note: This article was originally published in a different form in the Beatles 
fanzine "Daytrippin'" in the summer of 2000. 

 2001 by Rick Hardy
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