Category Archives: Germany

Top Ten Club, Hamburg

Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Top Ten Club, Hamburg, photo courtesy of K&K Hamburg

Apart from the Star Club, the Top Ten Club on the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli was arguably the most important rock music venue in Hamburg during the 1960s.

Opened in 1960 by Peter Eckhorn and operated by Iain Hines, the Top Ten Club was where The Beatles played and also backed singer Tony Sheridan in the group’s first recording sessions during early-mid 1961.

Throughout the 1960s, the Top Ten Club played host to a huge number of British bands, some of which featured future stars such as Elton John, Ritchie Blackmore (later in Deep Purple) and Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder (later in The Moody Blues).

Initially, there was only one band each month but from the mid-1960s onwards, there would be several groups sharing the bill each month. Singer Isabella Bond was a regular fixture and saxophone player Ricky Barnes helped run the club during the mid-late 1960s.

I have started to compile a list of bands that played at the Top Ten Club during this period but would welcome any additions and corrections in the comments below.

October 1960:

The Beatles: John Lennon (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Paul McCartney (rhythm guitar/lead vocals); George Harrison (lead guitar/lead vocals), Stuart Sutcliffe (bass/lead vocals) and Pete Best (drums).


The Jets: Iain Hines (keyboards), Colin Meander (lead guitar), Tony Sheridan (rhythm guitar), Rick Hardy (guitar), Peter Wharton (bass) and others.

27 March-2 July 1961:

The Beatles: John Lennon (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Paul McCartney (rhythm guitar/lead vocals); George Harrison (lead guitar/lead vocals), Stuart Sutcliffe (bass/lead vocals) and Pete Best (drums).

1 November 1961-January 1962:

Wayne Gibson & The Dynamic Sounds: Wayne Gibson (lead vocals), Mick Todman (lead guitar), Ray Rogers (bass), Pete Gillies (rhythm guitar) and Larry Cole (drums).


March 1963:

The Blackjacks: Pat Harris (lead vocals), Don Callard (lead guitar), Robbie Williams (rhythm guitar/vocals), Bob Wilkinson (bass) and Pete James (drums).

August 1964:

The Mastersounds: Mal Jefferson (lead vocals/bass), Adrian Lord (lead vocals), Tony Cockayne (lead guitar), Gerry Stewart (tenor sax), Mike Price (drums) and others.

February 1965:

The Krew, Paddy, Klaus & Gibson, London Beats (plus Isabelle Bond and Beryl Marsden)

The Krew: Robert Fielden-Nicholls (lead guitar), Howie Casey (tenor saxophone), John Bradley (bass) and Eddie Sparrow (drums).

Paddy, Klaus and Gibson: Paddy Chambers (lead guitar), Klaus Voorman (bass) and Gibson Kemp (drums).

The London Beats: Frank Bennett (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Mick Tucker (lead guitar/lead vocals), Sam Coaffee (bass) and Jim Smith (drums)

??? 1965:

Next of Kin: Frankie Allan (lead vocals), Dai Johns (lead guitar), Mike Ashman (rhythm guitar), Robert Evans (bass) and Alan Snell (drums).

March 1966:

Frank Sheen Sound: Frank Sheen (lead vocals), T J Huggett (keyboards), John Cushen (bass), John Herridge (drums) and Jeff Condon (trumpet) plus others.

March 1966:

Bluesology and Linda Laine & The Sinners

Bluesology: Stewart Brown (lead guitar/lead vocals), Reg Dwight (aka Elton John) (keyboards/lead vocals), Rex Bishop (bass) and Mick Inkpen (drums).

Linda Laine & The Sinners: Linda Laine aka Veronica Lake (lead vocals), Del Hidden (lead guitar), Peter Bellotte (rhythm guitar), Russ Maxwell (bass) and Len Crawley (drums).

April 1967:

The Copycats: John Stewart (lead guitar), Iain Lyon (rhythm guitar/vocals), Billy Cameron (bass/vocals) and Rob Lawson (drums/vocals).

July/August 1967:

Bluesology and Manchester’s Playboys

Bluesology: Alan Walker (lead vocals), Stewart Brown (lead guitar/vocals), Reg Dwight (aka Elton John) (keyboards/lead vocals), Caleb Quaye (guitar), Marc Charig (cornet), Fred Gandy (bass) and Pete Gavin (drums) (not sure this is the correct formation)

Manchester’s Playboys: Kerry Burke (lead vocals), Stuart Fahey (lead guitar/Trumpet), Graham Sclater (keyboards), Alan Watkinson (bass), Malcolm Tagg-Randall (saxophone) and Peter Simensky (drums).

Circa September 1967:

The Berkley Squares: Barry Wade (lead vocals), Ray Martinez (lead guitar/vocals), Dave Eldredge (keyboards/vocals), Leigh Catterall (bass/vocals) and Terry Abbs (drums).

December 1967:

Floribunda Rose: John Kongos (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Chris Demetriou (keyboards/vocals), Pete Clifford (lead guitar/vocals), Jack Russell (bass/vocals) and Nick Dokter (drums).

March 1968:

Scrugg (possibly billed as Floribunda Rose) and Manchester’s Playboys

Scrugg (two weeks from 1 March): John Kongos (lead guitar/lead vocals), Chris Demetriou (keyboards/vocals), Jack Russell (bass/vocals) and Henry Spinetti (drums).

Manchester’s Playboys: Kerry Burke (lead vocals), Stuart Fahey (lead guitar/Trumpet), Graham Sclater (keyboards), Alan Watkinson (bass), Malcolm Tagg-Randall (saxophone) and Peter Simensky (drums).

Thanks to the following for contributing to the timeline: Mick Tucker, Jim Smith, Frank Bennett, Graham Sclater, Jack Russell, Nick Dokter, Len Crawley

The Prophets (Germany)

The Prophets seem to have been a short-lived group with one release on Kerston. At least three of the Prophets were British musicians who were based in Germany:

Billy Tabbert – guitar, vocals
Derek Moore – bass, vocals
Ron Howden – drums
? – guitar, vocals

In 1964, Derek “Mo” Moore was in two groups, the Upsetters and Beast. While touring France with the Upsetters, he met Ron Howden. I’ve seen conflicting accounts of what happened next, either Ron joined the Upsetters in France, or else Derek jammed with Ron when Beast toured through Hamburg.

In any case, the two of them formed the Prophets with guitarist Billy Tabbert. I’m not positive who the fourth member of the group was. It could have been Tommy McGuigan, a friend of Tabbert’s who had been vocalist and saxophonist in the Scottish rock band, the Waysiders from 1962-1965.

“You Missed by a Mile” and “Hey Mister” are two excellent originals by Moore and Tabbert. One is upbeat, the other more sedate, but each has fine vocals over expressive guitar playing, resounding bass lines and agile drumming.

Sometime between 1965 and 1967 Derek and Ron met keyboardist Allan “Taff” Freeman and guitarist Allan Murdoch from MI5, another English group who had relocated to Germany. Derek and Ron either joined MI5 or else formed a new group with them, Prophecy. By 1968 that group had evolved into Nektar, with LPs on Bacillus and United Artists. Billy Tabbert joined Allan Murdoch and Tommy McGuigan in Message, who also had releases on Bacillius. I’ve been told that Billy Tabbert passed away in 1995.

Fred Kerston ran his Kerston label from Oberkassel, Bonn with an impressive list of releases, including the Beethovens “I Want a Dog” / “She Is My Love”, the Party Brothers “Our Love Is Gone” / “Every Night”, the Magic Herbs “There’ll Come the Day” / “Still Hoping You Might Come Back Home”, the Strings “Don’t Play”, the Strangers “Hurt It”, the Tramps “I Do”, the Vampires “It’s Enough”, the Vanguards “I Know a Girl” / “My Babe” and the cool instrumental “A Life Like a Hound” by Bill Soap & the Dirties.

Sources include: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg website.

Thank you to Andy Paraskos for the scans of the sleeve and 45.

The Freed

Can’t find any info on the Freed, or even the year of this 45, though it’s almost certainly from 1970-72.

From the scarves and pink hat, and the a-side “Ruby Lips” you might not expect the heavy guitars and raving gibberish of the b-side, “Bad, Bad, Baby”. It was written by Stanley Allen and Joe Acim and released in stereo on the Rex label out of Munich.

The Rhythm Checkers

A truly European band, the Rhythm Checkers had members from four countries over the course of their three-year career. Their first EP includes some of the wildest garage ever cut on the continent.

Begun in 1965 in Sarrelouis, a town in the Saarland region of Germany very close to the border with France, the band had three Germans: Dave Kelly (Wolfgang Mersinger) on vocals and guitar, Kurt Horbach on bass, and Norbert Hohlweg (spelled Hohlweck on the EP) on drums, with Eddy Van Nelfen from the Netherlands on rhythm guitar. Occasionally Frank Farian, the founder of the Hansa label, would join them on keyboards.

Kibitz Club, Strasbourg, May 1966

The band relocated to Strasbourg, France in 1966, replacing Dave Kelly with two Frenchmen: Robby Stierheim of the Black and White (“Where Did You Go” on Storz) on guitar, and Roby’s friend Roland Bauer (aka “Bouboule”) of the Skat Five as new lead singer.

That summer the Rhythm Checkers traveled to play the Puce Palladium in the town of Juan les Pins in the French Riviera, and on November 8 they opened for Jerry Lee Lewis at Paris’ Olympia Theatre, playing r&b hits like Ride Your Pony and Long Tall Sally. They went over big, leading to a month-long booking at Kiki Chauvieres’ club the Locomotive in Paris.

Juan les Pins, Summer 1966

Returning to Strasbourg in December, they cut their first EP at the Kibitz Club, produced by Alain Dubois and pressed in 2000 copies on the Disques AGD label. “Cause I Need You” and “Theme of the Rhythm Checkers” are originals by Robby Stierheim and Eddy Van Nelfen.

Both are solid songs, though the production brings the drums and vocals to the fore and buries the fuzz guitar on “Theme of the Rhythm Checkers”. On this song especially, Roland’s voice reminds me of Roky Erickson’s though I’m sure he was unaware of the Elevators at the time.

They also cover Bo Diddley’s “Said Oh Yeah” and, surprisingly, a great version of “On Your Way Down the Drain,” originally by the New York group the King Bees. This song is crude as can be, a real garage classic.

On February 21, 1967 they returned to the Olympia to open for Chuck Berry. By this time another former member of the Black and White, Danny Gentner replaced Kurt Horbach on bass. A hoarse Roland Bauer opens their set with a shout of “Vivre le rock n’ roll et vivre les Rhythm Checkers!”

This wild performance was recorded for their second EP, featuring all cover songs this time: “Long Tall Sally”, “Kansas City”, “Land of a Thousand Dances”, and the Small Faces’ recent release “I Can’t Dance With You”. Again they’re engaged to play Paris clubs, this time the Tchoo Tchoo, the Poporama and the Bus Palladium.

At Gérardmer, summer 1967

In the fall of ’67 English keyboardist Chris Hadfield joined the band for gigs with the Artwoods and Sandie Shaw. The group broke up at the end of the year, with Robby, Chris and Roland forming a r&b group called the Meats. Roland reformed the Checkers in the 1970s for one single.

John Smith and the New Sound


John Smith and the New Sound were a band from the UK originally, but their releases did much better in Germany and France than back home.

“Just A Loser” shows that soulful and heavy sound UK bands were getting at the time. It was written by F. Sheen. The version of “Birthday” is no improvement over the original. “Girl’s in Love” is an excellent uptempo track with horns. They have several other 45s, including “Don’t Back the Loser” and versions of “Winchester Cathedral” and “See See Rider”.

Recently John Smith himself wrote to me in 2008:

I would like to point out that the band pictured on the [sleeve above] is NOT the original “John Smith & the New Sound.” The original band frequently flew to Germany in 1966/67 where we had a hit record with “Winchester Cathedral.” We followed that up with “Snoopy vs the Red Baron”. The ‘B’ side of ‘Snoopy’ was “Send Her Home”…which was penned by John Smith. We appeared on “Beat Club” in Germany (TV Bremen), also in Hamburg, Munich & Frankfurt. My records were produced by his manager Bill Wellings. I hope this information is of some use … the reason it is so accurate is that I am the original John Smith (my real name incidently)!

I have a video of me performing “Winchester Cathedral” on ‘Beat Club’ in November 1966. Also appearing were Dave Dee & Co., David & Jonathan & a couple of others. I originally recorded “Winchester” with The New Vaudeville Band. Then Bill Wellings (my manager) created the John Smith line-up. The other [versions of] the band were formed after I went to Australia.

I did stay in music, and I started up a cabaret act on my own, sometimes using a guitarist as musical director. In 1969, I was offered a trip to Australia, as a cabaret act, so I went. I worked in Australia for many years, supporting some of the ‘greats’ such as: Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine, Blood Sweat & Tears, Cilla Black, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Al Martino etc. I’m now 68 years of age and I live a quiet life in Devon.

Thanks to Borja for turning me on to ‘Girl’s In Love’, to John Smith for his recollections of the band, and to Bernd for the scans of the Winchester Cathedral and Don’t Back the Loser sleeves.


The Kentuckys

l to r: Benny Weiler, Manfred Weiler, Peter Frohn, Peter Zadina and Rocky Zimdars

Originally called the Kentucky Rockers, the group formed in Wuppertal in western Germany in 1962. The first lineup was Peter Frohn, Rainer Schiffgen, Klaus-Dieter Prange and Siegfried Wagner.

In 1963 they shortened their name to the Kentuckys, and new members included two brothers, Manfred Weiler on rhythm guitar and Bernd Weiler on Hammond organ. Still later Peter Zadina came in on bass and Rocky Zimdars on drums and vocals. They became known for dyeing their hair odd colors and dressing up as women on stage.

They released two 45s on the Bellaphon label. Their first, “Uncle Willy” is a good if conventional German beat record.

Their second is another thing altogether. After the opening chant the fuzz cuts loose on “Old Hangman Is Dead”. “Stupid Generation” features Rocky Zimdars’ lyrics and madcap laughter, and makes for a timeless anthem.

Both were issued with picture sleeves, but the copy I tracked of their second down doesn’t have it. The band also cut a version of “Cadillac” that went unreleased at the time.

Peter Zadina left the group in ’67, but the Kentuckys continued into the ’70s with various lineups. Peter Frohn died in 1987, and Rocky Zimdars in 2006.

Special thanks to Bernd Rüttgers for sending in the sleeve to Uncle Willy!

The German Bonds

The German Bonds started out in 1962, soon acquiring a top spot in the Star Club lineup of german beat groups. A few early r&b performances are preserved on the album Rock and Beat Bands Competition, recorded in December of ’63. Their first 45 was the horrendous mock-classical “Sonata Facile”, redeemed by a fine version of “So Mystifying” on the flip.

In 1965 they contributed a good version of a song I’m not a fan of, “Remember” (aka “Walkin’ in the Sand”) to a couple Star-Club various artists lps of the time, Scene ’65 and Sweet Beat.

The line-up changed from time to time, but by 1966 consisted of Rainer Degner lead guitar and vocals, Peter Hecht keyboards, Jurgen Bock rhythm guitar, Dieter Horns bass and vocals, and Peter ‘Peet’ Becker drums. This line-up recorded their strongest record, “We’re Out of Sight”, backed with a great adaption of the traditional “Sing Hallelujah”, released in September of ’66 on Polydor International. It took me nearly three years to track down this one!

Their last recording was for Fontana in 1968, the awful pop tune “Skinny Eleanor” with a somewhat better freakbeat-ish song called “Birthday Is Today” on the b-side.

The Bonds have some connection to obscure Star-Club artists like the Fixx (supposedly the Rattles) and Our Gang. Check out the best song from the Fixx’s only release, “Looking for the Right Girl”.


Promo card signed to Jimmy Ward and the Tropicals


Daniela released two EPs in Yugoslavia singing in Serbian. She made the one pictured above with the band Plamenih Pet (The Flaming Five) around 1967. This low-fi EP has competent covers of I Got You Babe and These Boots Are Made for Walking sung in English.

The real gems are on the b-side, Dan Je Divan Dan (on web translators the title comes up as “Presently Had Wondrous Light”!), written by G. Aber and V. Olear, and Ja Nekog Želim (“I Someone Desires”), written by V. Olear and Daniela herself.

I haven’t heard the other Yugoslavian EP, pictured to the right, but the track list is Hippy Hippy Shake, Things We Said Today, Detroit City, and O Flamingo.

I knew almost nothing about Daniela, but after posting this last week, a very nice person named Freddy sent me some information along with scans and other mp3s of her career in Germany.

Daniela’s real name was Danica Milatovic. She was born in Munich, Germany on December 13th, 1949, and her parents had come from Yugoslavia some years before. In 1960 she recorded her first 45. Between 1965 and 1973 there were 12 more 45s and two LPs with German songs. Her biggest hit was “Im Jahre 2002” (“In the Year 2002”).

Most of her German work is very pop oriented ( visual example here) but I’ll post a couple of the more uptempo numbers, Sag mir nicht Good Night (Don’t Say Good Night) and Ich bin wie Wachs in deiner Handen (I’m Like Putty in Your Hands).