Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson revealed why attracted him to The Beatles’ John Lennon in a new Classic Rock interview.
“Like most people my age outside of Liverpool, I had no real inkling of The Beatles until [1962’s] ‘Love Me Do,’ by which time they had, to some degree, been sanitized by their traditionally showbiz-minded manager, Brian Epstein.
“No doubt he thought it necessary, to help the band get gigs, to get a record deal, and those first few hits were what you might call pretty songs. ‘From Me to You,’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ – it was all very innocent.
“As their fame grew, however, and the back story of their earliest days became wider known, we cottoned on that this wasn’t how they started.
“We learned about the Cavern Club, and then we learned about their excursions to the seedy nightspots of Germany [in the early ’60s].
“With hindsight, you could say Hamburg was The Beatles’ punk period, their edgy and dangerous days that were hard to square away with the almost chocolate-box pop proposition they became.
“When I was schoolboy I was always attracted to John Lennon above the others, by a long way. Paul McCartney seemed to be the cheerful, cherubic, slightly wet character in the line-up as if the band had had a Cliff Richard transplant.
“But John had attitude, a sense of disdain when it came to being groomed and made to dress in matching suits.
“The first time I saw pictures of The Beatles in Hamburg, it struck me that here was Lennon in his natural habitat – leather-clad, greasy of quiff and with an air of menace. Photographs of that period are arguably more iconic than almost any subsequent images of the band.
“Hamburg was a rude awakening for many English musicians, a dark place full of aggressive sailors, shifty characters, and prostitutes. But in many ways The Beatles were primed for it, coming from a seaport themselves.
“These weren’t young boys from leafy Surrey, and Lennon in particular, you expect, was already familiar with the wrong side of the tracks in Liverpool.
“He would have felt perfectly at home among the dinginess and squalor.
“In terms of what they faced at the likes of the Star Club or the Kaiserkeller, Lennon, at least, you’d think, was more than able to handle himself, and perhaps act as a protector of the others, the very young George Harrison in particular.
“It was a rough environment where they feasibly were met with resistance, so like the punks of the following decade, they had to be brash and confrontational.