In the first few days of October I drove to Munich to visit the Oktoberfest in my rented lederhosen, then drove eastwards to the little town of Glauchau not far from Dresden. The reason for this visit was the 20th Anniversary of the Beat Archiv Museum – formerly the Sergeant Pepper’s Museum – under its Director, Edmund Thielow. Edmund had been a Beatles fan since 1975 and at the time he was of course living in the DDR under Communist rule, where a liking for the degenerate music of the Beatles marked him out as a dangerous subversive, so much so that the ill-famed Stasi secret police had a file on him.
However those days are now long gone and musicians and Beatles fans from all over Germany came together for a celebration party. The Quarrymen played in Glauchau some years ago and we received a very warm welcome, however this time the welcome was even warmer than expected because on the Friday night the hotel in which I was staying caught fire! Fortunately the fire brigade made a very efficient job of dealing with the outbreak which was caused by an overheating fridge motor. Our only serious discomfort involved waiting in the car park from 1:00am to 2:30 whilst the hotel was made safe.
Next day the guests began to arrive and the list of invitees read like a roll-call of supporters of the Beat Archiv over the last 20 years.
Tony Sheridan and Hans-Walther Braun (Icke) from the Beatles’ Hamburg days; tribute band “Frankie goes to Liverpool” from Berlin; singer-songwriter Andreas Geffart; Lothar Becker and Kai-Uwe Wittern from The Strawberries; Reinhard Fissler from Stern Combo Meissen and his daughter Vivien Maurer; author Reiner Bratfisch; Sergey Radschenko from Ukraine, curator of the “Back from the USSR” exhibition of Soviet era Beatlefan material and Thorsten Dahlberg, the Head of the Culture Department of the Glauchau Town Council which has lent great support to the Beat Archiv Museum over the years. Also present were members of the Glauchau Beatles Fan Club, including old friends of mine Gunter and Undine Queck, Andrea Noack and Maik Eidam.
The music performances were fantastic, naturally most of the songs were Beatles favourites, but by no means all. Amongst the many offerings of note, “Frankie goes to Liverpool” played a selection of Beatles material, including a very emotional performance of “If I fell”, where the lead vocal was taken by Reinhard Físsler, who despite his near total paralysis had travelled from Berlin to Glauchau in his special hospital bed to be at the celebration – see photo
Reinhard’s daughter, Vivien Maurer, a supremely talented singer and guitarist, performed “Blackbird”, “Here, there and everywhere”, “Michelle” and “Eleanor Rigby”.
Tony Sheridan played half a dozen numbers in his own inimitable style including “Georgia on my mind” on which he was joined on vocals by Reinhard.
Eventually it was my turn and Tony stayed on stage as we ran through some old skiffle numbers such as “Midnight Special”, “Lost John” and “Freight Train” with bassist Eugen Braumann and drummer Gerald Zaczyk with various guest washboard players such as Edmund Thielow himself, Andrea Noack and Gunter Queck.
It was a fantastic party and a marvelous celebration of 20 years of the Glauchau Beat Archiv. Very many thanks go to Edmund, his wife Christina, Gunter and Undine Queck and all those who helped to make the occasion such a huge success.
By Rod Davis