Fans make success for a pop star—more than money, more than influence, more than talent. But what are fans? Why do they remain so devoted to their idols, year after year? What is it that turns their admiration into worship? RAVE’s Dawn James talks to some worshippers, and tries to find the answers.
Fans—there are still hundreds of thousands of them that give all their money, their time, their thoughts—their whole lives to their idols. They are the worshippers of the few top pop people; the Beatles, the Small Faces, the Stones, the Walkers, the Monkees and Elvis.
Their demands are met by the fan club secretaries, who are responsible for keeping the fans up to date, for answering their letters, and making them feel there is a link between fan and hero. From membership of the fan clubs, the worshipper enjoys the friendship of people who have one thing in common—the love of their idol. For the ardent follower, life evolves round their hero. All thoughts are centred on him, most of their money is spent on him, and conversations revolve around him. Exams, jobs, other interests are all forgotten. The bedroom of the devout worshipper is covered with pictures of the worshipped star. On waking he is the first thing seen. The fan’s whole mind is obsessed. Her days pass in happy dedication, drooling over an old shoe she managed to swipe from his foot as he tumbled into a car, or an autograph he signed with his own hand. There is a desperate desire to get close to the idol. Even a piece of old clothing, or paper he touched to write on, is enough.
Beatle Fan Club secretary Freda Kelly has dealt with all kinds of fans, and never ceases to be amazed at their devotion.
“There was a woman, Mary Dunn, from Australia,” Freda said. “She was about forty years old. She worked with three friends in the post office, and had done so for twenty years. Then she heard a record of the Beatles, and she and her three friends saved up nine months of their holiday to come to England. They stayed in London in the hope of seeing the boys. Then they went up to Liverpool, and spent a week looking at the Cavern, and the places the boys had played in before they were famous. Then they got to know the Beatles’ parents, and were invited to tea. It was wonderful to see how thrilled they were. One day Mary Dunn came into the office. I had a pile of John Lennon photos on the window ledge. Usually she said hallo, but that afternoon she ignored me, flew to the ledge, picked up a picture of John and kissed it passionately, saying, ‘I love him so’. She really meant it. They have gone back to Australia now. They never did meet the boys.”
The link between the fans and the fan clubs is strong. Freda recalls a Japanese girl who went to America so that she might see the Beatles.
Not only Beatle fans are so devout. A Small Faces’ fan was suffering from a chill when the group appeared in Tooting. She was ordered to bed by her doctor, but climbed out of the bedroom window and went to the concert. There she collapsed. They took her to hospital with pneumonia. But she said it was worth it just to hear one number.
Who has the most dedicated fans? Here are the facts about the worshippers—and the worshipped:
The Stones’ fans
Lindsey Boyd: a fan since May 1963. Has seen nineteen live Stones’ performances, has been in audiences on Ready Steady Go, the Palladium Show and Juke Box Jury.
She goes for tickets and usually gets front row seats. She cannot go to shows more than twenty miles out of London because of school. She used to go to shows in clothes with the embroidered names of Mick, Charlie, Keith, Brian and Bill on them. Now she has outgrown that stage. About photos she says, “At school there is an exchange mart and between us we get every pop publication there is. I have every photo of the Stones that has been published. My bedroom walls are covered!” She has spoken to each Stone.
“At first I asked for autographs, but it was boring for them, so now I just speak.
“Last year I went to Mick’s mews flat hoping to see him. I put my head in the hall and someone shouted, ‘Gerroutofit!’ I ran. Then John Lennon appeared with Mick. It was a Lennon joke! I have half a fag of Keith’s, and a piece of his chewed gum. Also a threepenny piece of Mick’s.
“I have all their English records. I spend every penny on the Stones.”
Marilyn Fine, sixteen years old: “Three years ago I was mad on them, but I’ve got to know them through hanging about wherever they happen to be. I’m very fond of Mick.”
She had a vast collection of photos but she gave most away. She had some Coke bottles and a cigarette stub but she gave them to less mature fans. She still keeps the shirt belonging to Mick.
Marilyn has met the boys many times, and Keith and Mick even know her name. This is one of the worshipper’s greatest ambitions.
“Once I waited from eight in the morning till one in the afternoon in the freezing snow,” she said. “I fainted, but I wouldn’t give up. Charlie and his wife saw me on the ground, and told me where I could get a good view of the Stones outside their office. I went there.”
Marilyn has spoken often to Brian Jones. “Me and my friend Babs go to Brian’s house and do shopping for his girlfriend Anita. Brian kissed Babs at London Airport recently.”
Jenny Knowl, fifteen: not a fan club member. Has 1,000 pictures of the Stones, has seen seventeen live shows, and all TV. performances. She has a shoe of Mick Jagger’s, a piece of Charlie’s shirt, and a pen given to her by Keith. She has every record they have issued.
“I don’t belong to the fan club because I’m shy of joining,” she said. “I like to worship them privately. I never talk to other fans. I feel the Stones belong only to me.”
The Small Faces’ fans
Lynda Philips and Margaret Reading, both fifteen: between them they have one hundred pin-up photos. They have seen five live performances, including Top Of The Pops.
“We waited hours to see Plonk move houses,” they said. “We skipped school all day. We often ring Pauline, the fan club secretary. Once she didn’t tell us, but she put Stevie on the line, and we were saying, ‘We love Stevie, he’s so handsome’, not knowing we were talking to him!”
Lynda had a holiday job, but she lost it because she stayed away too often seeing the Faces.
“We had a letter to go to court because we skipped school. I’ve got to take eight G.C.E’s, but all I study is the Faces! I want to be a fan club secretary when I leave school.”
On Steve’s birthday they spent £2 10s, on two hundred cigarettes for him.
They save up for tickets and records. When a new L.P. comes out they take part-time jobs to raise money.
Hilary Tonks and Jean Miller, both fifteen: they have 660 pictures each, twelve big photos on the bedroom walls. Souvenirs. Jean had a kiss from Stevie Marriott (and she didn’t wash for two weeks afterwards!) Hilary won his shirt in a fan club competition.
They have seen the Small Faces on stage ten times.
They say they don’t miss school to see the Faces in case they give the group a bad name.
“I’d marry Plonk or Kenny or Mac, but not because they are famous, but for themselves,” Hilary said.
They like the boys to be happy and have girlfriends, and are pleased about Geneveve and Plonk, but they disapproved of Chrissie Shrimpton.
The Beatles’ fans
Christine Pond, seventeen: first saw the Beatles in March, 1964 outside R.S.G. “I was wearing a sweater with their names on it that I’d embroidered in needlework at school. I skipped school early that day. When I saw Paul I had to let him know that I loved him. Tears were streaming down my face and I yelled, ‘Paul, I love you’, and just for a split second our eyes met.”
Chris joined the Beatles’ fan club, but had to wait eight months for membership. She covered her bedroom walls in Beatle photos and wrote ‘Beatles’ all over her school books.
She now has 9,787 pictures and souvenirs. She has seen them three times on stage. Once she paid £1 for a ticket.
She went to the airport when they left for the Bahamas, and has been on two other occasions. Once she spent £1 10s. in fares alone! She was waiting in the road at the premiere of “Help”.
“Several Sundays I sat outside Jane Asher’s house in case Paul went in or out.
“I was dating a boy once who didn’t like the Beatles. He said in the end it was them or him. I chose them.”
Mary Watson, fifteen: she first saw the Beatles when she was ten years old. “In my heart I knew that in the years to come they would mean something to me. Now I’m in love with every adorable one of them.”
She has 296 pictures of the boys on her bedroom walls.
“I used to have long hair, but at the beginning of the year I had it cut off into a Beatle mop, and I even comb my fringe the same way as Paul. I sit like him, and I’ve taught myself to do most things left-handed as he does.”
June Leavesley, fourteen: has 5,000 photos of the Beatles, a piece of Paul’s shirt, a piece of George’s jacket and the Beatles’ real autographs. She saw them live in 1964 and 1965. She spends 10s. a month on magazines and comics with Beatle pictures in them. She has all their singles and albums.
“I dream all the time of marrying them. I love them so much.”
The Monkees’ fans
Judy Baker, eighteen: has been a Monkee fan since the TV. series started. When the Monkees visited England she went to the hotel where they were staying.
“I waited outside all night. At seven in the morning I crept in. I ran along the passages to their room, (someone had told me the room number the night before). Mama Cass opened the door and yelled loudly. I was scared. A man came and I was seen out.”
She has 108 pictures of the Monkees, many from American magazines that she has had sent over. She has applied for fan club membership, but so far has received no reply.
Ann Savingham, fifteen: has ninety-four pictures of the Monkees. She has taken a job in a laundry at weekends to save up for a trip to Hollywood to see them. She has to miss the TV. show because of this.
“It is terrible, but what else can I do? I must go to Hollywood, I feel sure we will get on well and I might marry one.” She has a radio which she listens to whenever possible in the hope of hearing the Monkees.
Veronica Kade, twelve: “I love all the Monkees. I bought their single and I’m saving for the LP.”
Veronica went to London to see the two visiting Monkees. “I waited outside the hotel but I never saw them.”
The Walker Brothers’ fans
Janet Hill, fifteen: has 318 photos, two tickets to Walker concerts, a yellow hat with ‘Walkers’ on it, and three posters of Scott.
“I love all the boys, but I love Scott the best, I don’t know if I’d marry one. I think I would be satisfied just to have them as friends.”
Janet says that when she is coming home from a stage show, she talks to other fans and they get on well.
“We are suddenly united because we have the Walkers in common.”
Sandra Macfarlane: has twelve real photos of the Walkers and seventy pictures. She has many souvenirs as she goes to the fan club office often.
“When Scott and Gary lived at Aston Lodge they had a jeep which we fans tore to pieces to get souvenirs. A little while ago I followed them to a recording session and a cigarette box fell out of John’s pocket and I kept it.”
She has seen seven live performances. At one, Sandra had an upsetting experience.
“In front of me there were tall girls standing up. So I stood on the chair. They did too. So I stood on the back and so did they. I fell off and knocked myself out. I don’t know if they did too!”
Sandra goes to John’s house often.
“Recently we went there at eleven in the morning and by the afternoon it was raining and he hadn’t shown up. I shouted, “If you don’t come down here I will kick your car.” He came down and was he mad! But I saw him.”
Elvis Presley’s fans
Ellen Macarthur, nineteen: has been an Elvis fan since 1959. She saw “Jailhouse Rock” so many times she can recite the entire script by heart.
She has every Elvis record possible to obtain in Britain. She is president of Elvis’s Scottish fan club. “I worry over Elvis like a close friend,” she said. “Everyone said I would grow out of it, but I’ve grown into it.
“I have a pile of large bricks and pebbles from Elvis’s driveway, leaves from the driveway trees, pictures and postcards and a book of records.”
Ellen also has about 15,000 pictures of Elvis.
She and hundreds like her spend their life savings on a visit to America because they know Elvis is unlikely to visit them in Britain.
She has seen Elvis’s twenty-two films, including “California Holiday” a total of 219 times!
So who has the most faithful fans? It is impossible to say. Each worshipper, in her own way, is entirely dedicated to her star. Elvis has older fans, the Beatles and the Stones have long-standing fans, the Walkers attract a mixture, whereas the Faces and the Monkees appeal mostly to younger people. But the real fan is forever thinking of her hero, and loving his image. She has little time for boyfriends, unless they too like the star. She cares for the protection of the star, except against herself.
Love goes deep. The mind of the worshipper is completely involved with her star. She dreams of him, thinks of him, works to save money for him. Anyone able to claim so much love from a complete stranger is lucky indeed.