Before Beatlemania, before being more popular than Jesus, and long before Yoko, the band were playing a residency at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, and from most accounts, gobbled a good amount of speed to get through the insane schedule of shows.
The Beatles’s introduction to “Prellies” (Preludin) started in Hamburg. As the group had to play for hours, Sheridan offered them Preludin, saying: “Here’s something to keep you awake.” Kirchherr too later supplied Sutcliffe and the other Beatles with Preludin, which, when taken with beer, made them feel euphoric and helped to keep them awake until the early hours of the morning. Looking back, Harrison said that the whole group would be “frothing at the mouth,” and would sometimes stay awake for days. Lennon recalled, “The waiters always had these pills [Preludin], so when they saw the musicians falling over with tiredness or drink, they’d give you the pill. You could work almost endlessly until the pill wore off, and then you’d have another.” McCartney said that he would usually take one, but Lennon would often take four or five.
The frantic lifestyle is definitely a factor in the rawness of these lo-fi recordings. And I could be totally wrong, but knowing what I know about John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s somewhat different tastes in music, I’d have to guess that the selections performed, mostly comprised of rock and soul standards, were influenced of the man whose murder shocked the world on this day in 1980 than McCartney’s.