Why The Beatles Fans Were So Passionate, According to George Harrison

Back in 1964, The Beatles began approaching international superstardom and Beatlemania was spreading like wildfire. Unquestionably, there has never been a fan base quite like that of The Beatles back in the ’60s. Why were fans of the group so uniquely passionate? George Harrison wrote about his theory in his column for the Daily Express, along with help from Daily Express writer Derek Taylor.

After their return from their tour in the U.S.A., The Beatles are cheered by two fans. They are in a convertible car driven by a chauffeur.
The Beatles being chased by fans | Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Everyone wanted to know who The Beatles were

In his Feb 14, 1964 column for the Daily Express, Harrison wrote about the band’s first time playing in America. First, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, then they toured around the country, including a performance at Carnegie Hall (what they were most excited about). It was a whirlwind trip and Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr were all pleased to find that Americans had more than welcomed them with open arms. But they also found that they were the subject of scrutiny.

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“Ever since we’ve been here the Americans have been trying to find out what makes us tick—particularly me,” he wrote, as recorded in the book, George Harrison on George Harrison. “The newspapers, as well as sending reporters and photographers to our press conferences, have been sending psychiatrists and psychologists. Actually, we thought it might be interesting if there was some explanation for our success. But we’re no nearer finding that out from the psychiatrists than from anyone else.”

Why The Beatles fans stuck around, according to George Harrison

In a previous column, Harrison wrote that The Beatles had developed a blasé attitude as a “defense mechanism” to keep themselves grounded. It was how they dealt with fame.

“The big point in this business is to take it how it comes and be flexible,” he wrote in the Feb. 14 column. “It’s no good being swept away by your own publicity man. That way you’re done for. And it’s no good thinking all the girls screaming and shouting when you play are in love with you. And quite honestly none of us does.”

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Harrison believed that was part of the reason The Beatles fans loved them. That, and they knew how to give them what they wanted.

“We love our fans, but we have adapted ourselves to them,” he wrote. “And that’s why I think they still like us.”

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr would laugh at what was written about them in the press

Another way The Beatles stayed grounded was to not pay much mind to what was written about them in the press. Lennon told Harrison that he’d stopped reading anything about himself. “It’s a load of old rubbish,” he said. “Enough to send you to a psychiatrist.”

But the band still had to keep up with interviews and reporters trying to find out what made Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison tick.

“The other day one of them got up and asked: ‘Ringo is known for his rings, Paul obviously for his looks, and John for his marriage. Then there’s you, Mr. Harrison—what are you known for?'” wrote Harrison.

He told them: “Just as long as I get an equal share of the money I’m willing to stay anonymous.”

Plus, the headlines made for a laugh.

“We all have a good giggle at the labels that are pinned on us,” he wrote. “They are a long way removed from the truth.”

In reality, there was “no real shy one, no real sexy one.”

“But as long as the money comes on and they go on liking us, they can call us what they want,” wrote Harrison.