The older generation never understood them, nor what it was about them that made young women scream, weep uncontrollably and even lose consciousness with unexplainable ecstasy.
Beatlemania was a phenomenon the likes of which never has been paralleled in pop culture. But for many, the obsession went far beyond playing the albums and fantasizing about a favorite Beatle.It involved virtually living outside the Beatles' homes or the recording studios on Abbey Road, just to get a glimpse of the Fab Four going about their business. Maybe, just once, a Beatle would take notice of them, talk to them. . . .
That was the dream of Carolyn Lee Mitchell, dubbed a "superfan" by English media. At age 17, she left her home in Salt Lake City to journey to London - a Mecca for hard-core Beatlemaniacs like Mitchell.
"The Beatles' debut on American TV, on `The Ed Sullivan Show' was an event that most Americans vividly remember," she writes. "I certainly do. I just sat in front of the television and screamed. From that time on, the Beatles were the most important thing in my life."
For more than two years, Mitchell camped outside the home of Paul McCartney, her favorite Beatle. And she wasn't alone; she was a bona fide member of a sorority of the obsessed, women who made life extremely difficult for the Beatles, peering into their windows, following them everywhere they went and pestering them constantly.
Mitchell has just chronicled the exploits of herself and other Beatle superfans in the book "All Our Loving." The book has received widespread praise and criticism throughout Europe for its insightful, if disturbing, portrait of obsession.
It's an obsession that Mitchell fully acknowledges and makes no apologies for, despite an incident that thrust the superfan into the world spotlight.
During one "Beatlewatch" in 1971, Mitchell was hoping to catch a glimpse of McCartney outside his Scotland hideaway.
According to police reports, McCartney, apparently fed up with the adulation, attacked Mitchell, giving her a bloody nose and bruises. McCartney denied the allegations and never was charged, but the story of the assault made headlines the world over, including the Deseret News thousands of miles away in her home town.
At the time, McCartney, was quoted as saying, "She refuses to recognize that I'm married with a family. For three years I have been asking her politely, pleading with her to leave me alone."
"I've had 17 years to think about it, and if I'm to be totally honest about the whole sorry episode, I have to admit that I'd finally gone too far in trying to do nothing more than show my love and devotion for my most favorite of all the Beatles," she writes in her book.
Mitchell gave up Beatle-watching after that incident, but not her love for the Beatles. Now 42, Mitchell lives in London, surrounded by photos of cats, Elvis and the Beatles. She works as a clerk and fields interviews about her book.
"You see, I, and thousands like me, really cared about them, I mean really cared," she said. "Not just as pop stars, but as people. I know few people really ever understood that. Perhaps they still don't."