In 1961, the Beatles were playing live in Hamburg, Germany, building a fan base and getting experience playing live in front of rowdy audiences. Most hardcore Beatles fans know about the Beatles' Hamburg era, but many don't know that they also recorded in Germany. Many of their earliest releases were recorded and released in Germany, including their very first record.
The Hamburg days were before Ringo, however, with Pete Best on the drums. The first record was a rousing rendition of "My Bonnie," with a B side of "The Saints," otherwise known as "When the Saints Go Marching In." While the two sound like songs that would be out of place for diamond-in-the-rough rockers living it up in early-60s Germany, they were actually done with a fast pace and a pulsing rock beat. The Beatles' rendition of "My Bonnie" sounds much like their later hit "Shout." The record shot to #5 on the German charts. A 1962 record with original songs was recorded while the group was still in Hamburg.
The Beatles also recorded a few German versions of their songs, including a German version of "She Loves You," recorded as "Sie Liebt Dich."
Another hit overseas, "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand," was the German version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." In addition to the early German releases, there was also one that came very late in the lifespan of the Beatles. In 1969, only months before the controversial split occurred, the group recorded a German version of "Get Back," called "Geh raus." This was an off the cuff rendition that relied less on precise translation than it did on the boys trying to remember some of the German they learned while playing in Hamburg. The result was apparently not grammatically correct German, with a little French thrown in, but the recording still has an interesting, whimsical sound.
Going back even earlier than the "My Bonnie" release, the Beatles were heard on a recording of Tony Sheridan's music, which had a German component. The Beatles were credited on the record as The Beat Brothers. Later releases of the record, after the Beatles became the toast of the Western world, featured the Beatles name. The record has a version of "My Bonnie," sung by Sheridan, with the first few verses sung in German. The version with the German lyrics is now extremely rare and collected by Beatles enthusiasts.
Live recordings are now available of The Beatles in Hamburg
And for collectors of the extremely early Beatles, the Tony Sheridan music, with The Beat Brothers is available now. The CD also has a few songs that were credited to the later name "Beatles."