Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Teacher

November 1960

Another performer from England appearing in Hamburg is named Tony Sheridan.  Tony is at least a couple of rungs above the Beatles on the ladder of musical success.  In fact, he had been a member of the English tour where early rock hero Eddie Cochran had been killed while traveling between venues back in April.  Bruno Koshmider had found his band, called "The Jets" on his first trip to England in search of talent to play at one or another of his Hamburg clubs.  He and the Jets had preceded the Beatles to the Kaiserkeller by a couple of months and were among the trailblazers of the England to Hamburg talent pipeline.

I love what Alan Clayson says about Tony in his book Hamburg - The Cradle of British Rock.  "Ricky Richards proffered, 'Only one reason why Tony came to Hamburg: running away from the police over a guitar...'  Although an admirable young man in many ways, Sheridan had a lackadaisical attitude toward the accumulation of debt.  The London booking agent, Tito Burns, had discovered this when, after lending the twenty year old - technically a minor in those days - the down payment for a guitar and assenting to act as guarantor, demands arrived for unpaid hire-purchase installments."

When Peter Eckhorn had opened the Top Ten Club, a palace compared to the Kaiserkeller, he decided to employ the best talent available and that, of course, was Tony Sheridan and the Jets.  Mr Eckhorn did have to "convince" Mr Koshmider to allow them out of a signed contract to do so, but somehow he managed it, probably more by crook than by hook.

Now. the Beatles, during their breaks will sometimes wander over to the Top Ten to see Tony and perhaps obtain a couple of new guitar licks into the bargain.  As Tony plays a mean lead guitar, George watches intently the magic his fingers make on the fretboard.  Tony, a true musician's musician, spends all of his energy on making music and is generous with his time, often playing in ad hoc jam sessions with anyone who wants to lay down some rock and roll.  The young George Harrison is frequently among them.  Tony's nickname among the musicians of the St Pauli district is "The Teacher".

There is a charming interview (45 minutes) with Tony from Irish Radio here.  What a sweet person he turned out to be!  And listen to some music samples here.

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