‘Period of pandemonium’: Paul McCartney reflects on Beatlemania as he debuts unseen Beatles snaps

Police keeping back a crowd of young fans outside Buckingham Palace, London, as pop group the Beatles receive their MBEs.  (Photo by Ted West/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Police keeping back a crowd of young fans outside Buckingham Palace, London, as pop group the Beatles receive their MBEs.  (Photo by Ted West/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Police keeping back a crowd of young fans outside Buckingham Palace, London, as pop group the Beatles receive their MBEs. (Photo by Ted West/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Beatlemania saw the Fab Four go from being the most popular band in Britain to an international cultural phenomenon.

Paul McCartney has reflected on the rise of Beatlemania in a recently published extract ahead of his latest project, which features photos taken during the iconic period. In 2020, nearly a thousand photographs taken by Paul McCartney on a 35mm camera were re-discovered in his archive.

The pictures, snapped by Paul between December 1963 and February 1964, will be displayed at The National Portrait Gallery this summer. Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm will run from 28 June to 1 October as one of two major exhibitions to relaunch the gallery after three years of refurbishments. Paul  is also set to release an accompanying book.

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During the height of Beatlemania, the Fab Four were propelled from being the most popular band in Britain to an international cultural phenomenon. The band’s performances on The Ed Sullivan Show were viewed by approximately 73 million people. In 1966, John Lennon controversially remarked that the group had become "more popular than Jesus".

The ‘Beatlemania’ term was adopted by the media to describe the hysteria by fans during their world tour in 1964. The band attracted ecstatic female fans who would scream loudly and often mob them as they arrived at shows.

The legendary Beatle has now reflected on the time, calling it "a period of pandemonium". “Millions of eyes were suddenly upon us, creating a picture I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Paul McCartney writes. “It was a period of – what else can you call it? – pandemonium. We four guys from Liverpool couldn’t possibly realise then the implications of what we were doing,” he writes in a recently published excerpt via The Guardian.

“Even though we wanted to transform from a little band to a big one, and even though we hoped for international acceptance when we went to France and then the US, no one could have predicted what I describe as the ‘Eyes of the Storm’.” Paul  has insisted the band were not overwhelmed by the experience, instead saying “we were in Wonderland.”

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