Julia Sneeringer

Sep 18, 2020

A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany

Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69

Bloomsbury Academic 2018

The Beatles’ sojourn in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg during the early 1960s is part of music legend. As Julia Sneeringer reveals in A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany: Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69 (Bloomsbury, 2018), though, this was just the most famous episode in the neighborhood’s momentous engagement with rock ‘n’ roll during that period, one of importance not just to music history but to the history of modern Germany. Located as it was outside the walls of the medieval city, St. Pauli was known for centuries as the entertainment quarter of Hamburg. The neighborhood had only recently recovered from the hardships of the postwar era when German club owners began booking English bands to play the new style of music that had just been introduced in Europe. The performances quickly proved a hit among teenage Germans, who flocked to out-of-the-way venues to watch the acts perform. As Sneeringer details, the encounters changed everyone involved, giving the musicians the chance to hone their skills and develop their style while through their participation the young men and women in the audience pushed against the conservative social boundaries imposed on them by their families and their society.

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