Bambi cinema The Beatles’ first place to stay in Hamburg

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© Anna Lidle
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© Anna Lidle
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© Anna Lidle

Not exactly a five-star hotel: this is what the young Beatles must have thought when moving into their first digs in Hamburg. It comprised two rooms in a children's cinema, situated just next to the projector room and with the men's toilet serving as a bathroom – certainly an inconspicuous place to stay for these soon-to-be shining stars of music.

The Bambi cinema was located on Paul-Roosen-Strasse, a quiet side street only a few metres away from the hustle and bustle of the Reeperbahn. Today, only a garage with a drawing of Bambi reminds us of a location steeped in music history. The cinema was then owned by Bruno Koschmider, who had brought the Beatles, young amateurs at the time, to Hamburg for their first gigs. To save the young men the cost of accommodation, he put them up in two small rooms on the premises of his children’s cinema. Living in the Bambi cinema was certainly anything but luxurious. The dark, windowless rooms were shared between the four of them, with worn-out army bunks to sleep on and only a sink to wash in rather than a shower. Plus, there was no peace and quiet as the film screenings for the little ones would often start in the morning hours – when George, John, Paul and Stuart had just about returned from their gigs and would have been desperate for a sleep-in. A characteristic photo of the Fab Four from that time has now been put up outside the building on 33 Paul-Roosen-Strasse: the four lads with big grins on their faces, and in their hands the pills that enabled them to just about survive these almost sleepless nights – the stimulant Preludin.

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