George Harrison Said The Beatles Were Nearly ‘Wiped Out’ by Desperate Fans

In the 1960s, Beatlemania became so widespread that George Harrison said The Beatles were sometimes frightened by the unruly crush of fans. He explained that there were several near-misses with danger whenever they toured. While they found chaos wherever they went, Harrison explained that Texas felt particularly bad. He said that the first time they visited the state, the police were woefully unprepared for the sheer amount of fans who had come to see the band. 

Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon of The Beatles wave as they exit a plane.
Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon of The Beatles | Fox Photos/Getty Images

The Beatles inspired near-unprecedented levels of excitement in fans

In the 1960s, The Beatles inspired pandemonium wherever they went. A Scottish concert promoter, Andi Lothian, said the crowd was unlike anything he’d ever seen before.

“The girls were beginning to overwhelm us,” he told The Guardian in 2013. “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.”

The term for the phenomenon was Beatlemania. Soon, the band grew accustomed to finding hundreds of screaming fans wherever they went.

George Harrison said The Beatles often faced chaos in Texas

Harrison said that by 1965, two years after the band blew up, he grew tired of fame. He no longer wanted to tour.

“I wanted to stop touring after about ’65, actually, because I was getting very nervous,” Harrison told Rolling Stone in 1987. “They kept planning these ticker-tape parades through San Francisco, and I was saying, ‘I absolutely don’t want to do that.’ I didn’t like the idea of being too popular.”

His nerves had to do with some negative experiences on tour. He said that Texas was a particularly chaotic tour spot.

“Every time we went to Texas, we nearly got wiped out,” he explained. “The first time just by the police not listening to our advance man tell them how to handle the situation. We landed on the runway in Houston; they put about four police at the airport, and so there were thousands of kids. They were actually running along the runway, and the pilot just turned the engines off and let the plane coast to a stop. Within a few minutes, they were all over the plane. They were on the outside of the plane, knocking on the windows and all over the wings. It was ridiculous.”

George Harrison said it was a relief when The Beatles stopped touring

After many experiences like this one, Harrison grew weary of the road. He explained that it was a relief when The Beatles finished their final tour in 1966.

“There was a sense of relief after that, getting home,” he said. “Then we spent what seemed like fifty years going in and out of each other’s houses, writing tunes and going into the studio for Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. But for me, I think for all of us, it was just too much. The novelty had worn off. Everybody was growing up. Everybody was getting married and leaving home, in effect. I think it was inevitable, really.”

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