John Lennon, autograph hound: The fan-musician community in Hamburg's early rock-and-roll scene, 1960–65


  • Julia Sneeringer Queens College & CUNY Graduate Center



Beat music, The Beatles, Hamburg, Reeperbahn, Star Club, Star-Club News, Music fan


This article explores the Beat music scene in Hamburg, West Germany, in the early 1960s. This scene became famous for its role in incubating the Beatles, who played over 250 nights there in 1960–62, but this article focuses on the prominent role of fans in this scene. Here fans were welcomed by bands and club owners as cocreators of a scene that offered respite from the prevailing conformism of West Germany during the Economic Miracle. This scene, born at the confluence of commercial and subcultural impulses, was also instrumental in transforming rock and roll from a working-class niche product to a cross-class lingua franca for youth. It was also a key element in West Germany's broader processes of democratization during the 1960s, opening up social space in which the meanings of authority, respectability, and democracy itself could be questioned and reworked.

Author Biography

Julia Sneeringer, Queens College & CUNY Graduate Center

Associate Professor of History at Queens College & the CUNY Graduate Center.