Beatlemania

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George Harrison: They used us as an excuse to go mad, the world did, and then blamed it on us

When Bob Spitz’ recent book came out I said to myself I can’t read yet another Beatles book, what else could there possibly be, but a few days ago I found a copy of Spitz’ gigantic book for $6 and that’s just too cheap not to check out.

I’m glad I did actually. There were some things I didn’t know. The biggest being that Paul McCartney’s girlfriend was pregnant almost at the exact same time as Cynthia Lennon, but miscarried, freeing Paul from the convenience marriage that was perhaps the worst behavior of John’s life.

The biggest thing that the book impressed upon me was the level of madness that was Beatlemania. Elvis holed himself up in Graceland, but Brian Epstein had the Beatles facing the madness nearly 24-7 for at least 4 years. You hear things about the near riot in the Philippines, but the level of madness and the sheer volume of insane fans sometimes up to 250,000 at a time day after day after day. The biggest shock isn’t that George Harrison was increasingly crippled by the experience, it’s that John Lennon eventually felt comfortable enough to wander around New York without a huge security force.

At one point, after being treated like meat by a roomful of English dignitaries, a woman snuck up being Ringo Starr and clipped away a piece of his hair causing him to say “This lot here are terrifying – much worse than the kids.”

And yet, in that crucible, the fact that they turned out so much quality work so quickly is just unreal. Check out how many classic songs they recorded in the space of time that bands today take off between albums. Alright, now I’m sounding old.

I always found John’s love of confronting fans with a mock Nazi salute a little disturbing, but looking at the century as a whole, it’s not impossible to see similarities between the Hitler cult and Beatlemania. Thank God, they were preaching love!

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