The Day Beatles Fans Broke Into the Abbey Road Studios
When Beatles fans in America think of “Beatlemania” and the 1964 British Invasion, most think of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as the signature song of that moment. They have good reason to do so: That track represented the band’s first No. 1 hit on this side of the Atlantic.
However, the Fab Four had notched several No. 1 hits in the UK by February of ’64. “Please Please Me,” the band’s first huge success on the charts, went all the way to No. 2 in early ’63. That April, “From Me to You” became the first chart-topping single on the Beatles’ resume.
In July , The Beatles were the dominant force in British pop and went to EMI studios on Abbey Road to record their next single. Prior to the actual recording session, the band took some publicity photos outside.
After they’d gone in to work on the recording, they experienced the type of scene later found in A Hard Day’s Night. In fact, that day, just as they were about to record “She Loves You,” screaming fans broke into the building, with one girl actually making it into their studio.
Dozens of ‘hysterical screaming girls’ blew past security, causing chaos.
Before there was Beatlemania, no one expected hordes of music fans (mostly young girls) to overwhelm a band’s security detail. But in mid-1963, just five London policeman had the job of holding off 100 fans (or more) outside the band’s recording studio on Abbey Road.
As for the building housing EMI studios itself, security was even thinner. On July 1, with the band close to an early peak, the five bobbies and the EMI security team simply got run over by dozens of determined Beatles fans.
Geoff Emerick, who’d later become the chief engineer on Revolver, described the chaotic scene in his memoir, Here, There and Everywhere. Just as the engineers were running their microphone checks, the Beatles’ roadies came in and informed everyone that the building was a madhouse.
As John Lennon asked what he was talking about, “the studio door flew open and a determined teenage girl sprinted in, heading straight for a bewildered-looking Ringo.” Fortunately for Ringo, the roadie tackled the girl before she reached him.
When they peeked out the door, they found “scores of hysterical, screaming girls racing down the corridors, being chased by a handful of out-of-breath, beleaguered London bobbies.”
The Beatles’ frantic energy that day pushed ‘She Loves You’ over the top.
While the invasion of Beatles fans rattled Brian Epstein (the band’s manager) and others in charge of protecting the group, Emerick saw the Fab Four feeding off the energy from that encounter.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the excitement of that afternoon helped spark a new level of energy in the group’s playing,” Emerick wrote. While he considered “She Loves You” to be “fantastic,” he thought the thrill of the moment (i.e., of the Beatles ascendant) took it to a special place.
“There was a level of intensity in the performance that I had not heard before … and, frankly, rarely heard since,” Emerick recalled decades later. “I still judge that single to be one of the most exciting recordings of the Beatles’ entire career.”
Naturally, “She Loves You” shot to No. 1 in the UK after its release in August ’63. But even with all the commotion in England, the Beatles didn’t catch on in American till the calendar turned to 1964.