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The individual stories of the girls who screamed for The Beatles

On February 7th 1964, The Beatles landed at Kennedy Airport, New York amid extraordinary scenes of female hysteria.  The black and white newsreel images of thousands of teenage girls with their beehives and flipped curls, screaming and waving lovingly-crafted banners proclaiming ‘I LOVE PAUL’ or ‘RINGO FOREVER’ have since become iconic reminders of a landmark moment in 20th century popular culture. 

Similar scenes occurred in cities across Britain and America for the next two years in a phenomenon unlike anything seen before. There had been teenage fans or teenyboppers before, clamouring for Elvis or even earlier for teen idols like Frank Sinatra, but never on this scale.

So who were these teenagers?  Who were those screaming girls - some of whose faces, distorted by screams and tears, live on in the photos and newsreels? What became of them and where are they now?

She Loves You will tell the individual stories of the girls who screamed for The Beatles, often waiting for hours on end at airports, railway stations, hotels and concert venues, in Britain and America. 

Each chapter will tell a different story - of ‘Diane in New York’, ‘Sandra in Manchester’ or ‘Ellen in Los Angeles’ – each one linked by their love of The Beatles.

Why did they scream when the group appeared? What were the circumstances of their own journeys to the airports and concert halls? Had they skived off school or raided pocket money funds? Did they tell their parents they were going to a friend’s house?

What was the impact of The Beatles on their teenage years as a whole? How did their lives evolve subsequently and do they still love The Beatles now?

The 1960s and 70s were decades of extraordinary social change, both in Britain and America and the lives of these teenage Beatles fans will inevitably have been influenced by the changes in the world around them.

Some of these girls may have had brothers or boyfriends who went off to fight in the war in Vietnam. Others may have been influenced by the women’s movement of the early 70s. In Britain meanwhile, a young girl’s life may have involved a move from a rural town to a city and the opportunity to share a flat and work rather than getting married shortly after leaving school as had more often been the norm for the previous generation.

Whatever their circumstances, many of these women will have had fascinating lives and I believe their stories deserve to be told.

She Loves You will tell the story, not only of Beatlemania but of a generation.

Eddi Fiegel is an award-winning author and journalist. Her biographies of ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas and film composer John Barry have been described as 'exceptional', 'compelling', 'entertaining' and 'illuminating' by the likes of The Times, The Observer, Mojo Magazine. She is also the co-author of books on Madonna and Cher.

She writes on music, arts and travel for various British national newspapers and magazines including The i, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Her feature subjects have included the Nick Cave documentary film 20,000 Days on Earth, The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, Juliette Greco, kd Lang, Johnny Marr, Julian Cope and Bernard Herrmann.

Eddi originally trained as a BBC radio reporter and worked for the BBC World Service, BBC London and BBC Radio 1, 2, 4 and 5 as a feature interviewer, researcher and producer. Amongst her many interviewees were: Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Sean Connery, Brian Eno, Belinda Carlisle, Jarvis Cocker and Philip Glass.

She has since given ‘Screentalks’ at London’s Barbican Centre and presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘John Barry – The Lost Tapes’.

Eddi has also been featured in various BBC Radio 2 and Sky Arts documentaries as well as Woman’s Hour and The Reunion on BBC Radio 4. She was previously a regular contributor to BBC 6 Music’s The Freak Zone.

From: ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me – The Life of ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot’ (published by Macmillan)

England and all-things-English had been an obsession with Cass for years, almost equaling her fixation on John Lennon, so the idea of finally going to the country that she had fantasized about for so long seemed better than it was possible to imagine. She adored all things British -- from King Arthur and the Round Table to Dunhill cigarettes and tea and crumpets.

When Cass finally did come to visit London, she couldn’t have timed it better. By the summer of 1966, London had taken over from Rome, Paris, or New York as the world’s hippest metropolis. Suddenly the most exciting developments in virtually every field seemed to be coming out of London. It was now home to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones while Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, and David Bailey were trailblazing a revolution in women’s style and photography.  There was also a new generation of London-born actors such as Michael Caine and Terence Stamp breaking new ground in British films. Consequently, the world’s celebrities were now flocking to London, and on any given evening at one of the capital’s fashionable nightspots, you could stumble across a gathering of assorted Beatles, Hollywood stars, showbiz legends, and bright young meteors reveling in the sheer thrill of it all.

This was what Cass and the rest of the group were about to discover, and on arrival in London, they were installed in a magnificent townhouse apartment on Berkeley Square, one of central London’s grandest and most prestigious garden squares. With floor-to-ceiling windows opening out onto the square below, the flat was furnished with antiques and the living room featured a grand piano, an extensive library and an original Regency fireplace.

Cass had a room at the top with spectacular views across London, and she couldn’t have been happier. What was more, within a few days of their arrival, the group discovered that Mick Jagger and his girlfriend, Chrissie Shrimpton, were living in the apartment below.

For Cass, simply being in the city where The Beatles lived was a truly English heaven in itself. It hadn’t occurred to her, or indeed the rest of The Mamas and the Papas that they might come to meet the group.  But Cass would indeed meet her Beatles, albeit not quite under the circumstances she may have wished.


Thanks and news from the She Loves You (snail) trail

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

First of all, thank you so much to all of you for your support for She Loves You!

Everyone knows the story of The Beatles (and is probably sick to death of it being endlessly rehashed and repackaged in infinitesimal formats). But it struck me some time ago that nobody knows the stories of those screaming girls and now, thanks to you, we’ll be able to hear them.

Hopefully, if I manage to drum…

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