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Friday 9 January 2015

The Obertauern gig

18 March 1965 - Marietta Hotel, Obertauern, Austria.

Jacky and the Strangers were Berlin's longest running Rock'n'Roll band. Born in 1928 in Wiesbaden, Jacky Spelter formed the Strangers in 1953 with a Fender Jazzmaster guitar that he had brought from Texas were he had been taken as a prisoner of war. It was the first Fender model to appear in Germany. Jacky continued to play on that same instrument (that he lovingly called Jenny) for 50 years.

In 1958 he opened for Bill Haley and the Comets at the Waldbühne in Berlin. In Friedberg, where Jacky and the Strangers played the GI-Clubs, he met Elvis, who was sitting in the audience. After the concert, Elvis shook his hand. In Hamburg he claims to have played with the Beatles.

In March, 1965, Jacky and the Strangers were engaged to play at the Marietta Hotel, Obertauern, Austria, while the Beatles were in town, shooting scenes for the "Help!" film. John and Paul dropped in on March 18 for an impromptu gig with their Reeperbahn friend.

John borrowed "Jenny", Jacky's Fender Jazzmaster guitar, Spelter to his right
Paul tried out the drums.
No photos of George and Ringo from this gig have come to light, so they were probably not participating in this evening's events. The story goes that John Lennon immediately turned up the volume of his amp and they played several songs together, until the manager of the lounge decided to put an end to the performance. He said that it wasn't just because he thought that it was too loud, but he also remarked that he had hired Jacky Spelter for a show that evening, not The Beatles!

One of Henry Grossman's photos. We don't know who took the colour photos, it may have beeen Robert Freeman.
It's Jacky himself who is the source of the story that the Silver Beatles warmed up for him at the Star Club. When told that the "Silver" part was dropped from the band's name in 1960 and that the Star Club wasn't opened until 1962, Jacky wouldn't listen. And when someone pointed out that the first Fender Jazzmaster guitar was made in 1958, he would continue to claim that his was a 1950 model. Other accounts say that it was in 1960 in the Kaiserkeller Jacky met the Beatles.

Jacky up front, John in the background
This final photo was hanging on Jacky's wall in his apartment, and this is the only size the photo is available in on the internet. Possibly enlarged from a bigger photo of Jacky's wall.

Jacky Spelter was considered Germany's oldest rock and roller, and continued to play clubs in Berlin until just before he passed away on May 12th, 2004.


Foxx said...

Interesting article. Here,10810590,10016300.html it says that Jacky met The Beatles at the Kaiserkeller, so that would have been 1960. Ofcourse by then they were already Beatles, without 'Silver'.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article and pics!

wogew said...

Foxx: Yes, well the same article says that his Fender Jazzmaster was a 1948 model, so it's not easy.

Unknown said...

I've seen better pictures of John.

phil overture said...

Another photo here (copyrighted though)...

Tony said...

I wonder if that Jackie is the same one that Paul refers to in the take of Get Back where he sings in mock German (Geht Raus)

Mark McKendrick said...

Fender Jazzmaster wasn't introduced until 1959 and even then probably didn't hit the stores in the USA until 1960. Does anyone know when Jackie Spelter was in Texas...?

Tony R said...

What prisoner of war would be held in Texas?

Unknown said...

German POWs of WWII were held in the Southern U.S.