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Music

The Beatles song inspired by a fan who broke into Paul McCartney's home

The wave of Beatlemania, a term coined in an attempt to categorise the sheer level of chaotic fanaticism that built around The Beatles in the early 1960s, carried the band to levels of fame and adoration that had rarely seen before. While it is this adoring fanbase that pushed the Fab Four to the top of popular music, it was ultimately what brought the crumbling down just seven years later.

“I went absolutely mad round about 1964,” Ringo Starr later commented. “My head was just so swollen. I thought I was a God, a living God. And the other three looked at me and said, ‘Excuse me, I am the God’. We all went through a period of going mad”. This account by Starr, along with the now-infamous moment John Lennon claimed The Beatles had become more popular than Christ, perfectly exemplifies just how much Beatlemania had altered the state of all those involved.

One interesting insight into the early days of Beatlemania was recounted by Scottish concert promoter Andi Lothian who had booked the band to perform live in Glasgow, in 1963. With a new number one album to their name, Beatlemania had erupted, and it came sweeping into Scotland: “The girls were beginning to overwhelm us,” remembers Lothian during an interview with The Guardian. “I saw one of them almost getting to Ringo’s drumkit and then I saw 40 drunk bouncers tearing down the aisles. It was like the Relief of Mafeking! It was absolute pandemonium. Girls fainting, screaming, wet seats. The whole hall went into some kind of state, almost like collective hypnotism. I’d never seen anything like it.”

“For God’s sake Andi, what’s happening?” a radio host asked, as local police began to panic. “Don’t worry, it’s only… Beatlemania,” he replied.

This account of pandemonium would be replicated over and over and over, the intensity ramping up each time with hordes of fans screaming, fainting and becoming borderline possessed by the sheer sight of their heroes. In the seven years that the Beatles were together, it would be Beatlemania that carried them. However, as we all know so well, it was also what stopped them in their tracks. Live shows became unbearable, and safety was a major concern. As a result, the band stopped performing live.

While the group would split in 1970, the intensity of fan infatuation didn’t stop there. Tragically the members would face severe danger in the years that followed: George Harrison was stabbed in the chest during a home invasion and John Lennon was shot dead in New York City. However, the warning signs had always been there, just ask Paul McCartney.

In 1969, the Beatles included the McCartney-written song ‘She Came In Through the Bathroom Window’ as part of their eleventh studio album Abbey Road. Following ‘Polythene Pam’ and part of the album’s B-side medley, the track is not celebrated as one of their best, but it does hold a somewhat terrifying tale. At the beginning of the song, John Lennon shouts “Oh, look out!” in what is a telling sign of its inspiration.

McCartney would later reveal that the song was inspired by a group of supporters that would regularly congregate outside his St John’s Wood home in a bid to catch a glimpse. While the situation was always managed, things took a turn for the worse. One fan, Diane Ashley, took matters into her own hands when she picked up a ladder from McCartney’s garden and began to ascend the building.

Detailing her moves, Ashley later explained: “We were bored, he was out and so we decided to pay him a visit. We found a ladder in his garden and stuck it up at the bathroom window which he’d left slightly open. I was the one who climbed up and got in”.

Now in the building, Ashley opened the front door and allowed other people the enter. Blinded by fanatical adrenaline, the group stole a number of McCartney’s clothes and photographs, a situation which would leave the Beatle furiously attempting to retrieve sentimental photos for years after the event.

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