- The Beatles started wearing leather jackets in Germany
- Leather jacket soon turned into leather pants and leather jacket
- ‘A lot of people would laugh’ at the band’s outfit so they changed into suits
Apart from being a musical icon, The Beatles were also a fashion icon. Known for their mop top haircuts and mod suits, the band had a seminal style. But how did John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr find their signature looks? In a 1963 BBC documentary, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison revealed how they landed on the suit.
John Lennon from The Beatles on ‘Mach Shou!’ urged.
In interviews, Harrison stated that he believed the group found its style in Hamburg.
“We developed our style because of this dude” [Lennon],” he said, as recorded Book George Harrison on George Harrison. “He used to say, ‘You have to make a show for the people,’ and he would come every night shouting, ‘Much shou! Much shou!’ So we used to do ‘mach shou’, and dance like John the gorilla, and we all, you know, knock our heads together and stuff like that. Anyway, we got back to Liverpool and all of them there. The groups were doing shadow type things. [The Shadows were a popular guitar-based instrumental group of the period. —Ed.] And we came back with a leather jacket and jeans and funny hair, ‘Muching Shaw’, which went down quite well.
Influenced by The Shadows, the leather jacket corresponded to the “mach shou” philosophy of giving people a show.
The Beatles all wanted to wear leather jackets
Lennon said that one member of the band began wearing leather jackets for the show, and the trend caught on with the rest of the group.
“We just wore leather jackets,” he said. “Not for the group — one person wore one, I can’t remember — and then we all liked them, so it ended up being us all on stage with them.”
Previously, boys only wore jeans “because we didn’t have anything else at the time.”
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But with their new leather style, The Beatles “got quite a booking.” By the time they returned to Germany, the group was with the leather.
“They all thought we were Germans; you know, we were billed [being] from Hamburg and they all said, ‘You speak good English,’” Lennon said. “So we went back to Germany and the second time we had a little more money, so we wore leather pants and we four Jean Vincent looked like, only a little smaller, I guess. And that was it, you know. We’ve just put the leather gear up to Brian [Epstein] came along.”
Paul McCartney said people would ‘laugh’ at his leather outfits
In the end, the all-leather getup didn’t have the effect the band was hoping for.
“It was a little, old hat, all wearing leather gear, and we decided we didn’t want to look ridiculous going home because that’s often not a lot of people laughing at,” McCartney said. “It was just stupid. We didn’t want to appear as a gang of idiots. And Brian suggested we wear simple suits. So we got what we thought were good enough suits and got rid of the leather gear. Took it. That was all.”