10 Things You Don’t Know ‘Bout Apple Scruffs

George Harrison said it best when he sang in 1970, “There’s so much you don’t know about Apple Scruffs,” mostly because many false facts about the dedicated group of Beatles fans that called themselves the Apple Scruffs are rampant on the Internet and in books. Those who were there are a very private group of people that don’t share a whole lot about what happened during those times on the steps of Savile Row. Through some research and talking to some of the members anonymously through my blog Meet the Beatles…for Real, however, I’ve come closer to finding out the truth about these well-known Beatlemaniacs, including these 10 little-known facts.

10) For all intents and purposes, the Beatles had broken up by the time the Apple Scruffs were formed.

Some of the girls who were in the Apple Scruffs had been hanging around EMI studios and Paul’s house on Cavendish Avenue since 1967; however, most of the girls began to gather around the time Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman got married in March 1969. Even so, they didn’t start using the name “Apple Scruffs” until early 1970, and, by that time, the Beatles had stopped recording together as a group. The Apple Scruffs were primarily around during the recording of Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album and a few other sessions during the early 1970s.

9) They weren’t the only group of fans that hung around Apple, EMI, and Cavendish.

The first Beatles fans began hanging around EMI studios on Abbey Road as early as 1963, during the recording of “She Loves You.” It wasn’t long before a dedicated group of “regulars” emerged that hung around the studio when the Beatles were recording in hopes of seeing one or more of the guys. During the touring years, the fans were there, but not as regularly because they could still see the Beatles when they performed in concert. Starting in 1966, when the Beatles didn’t have any set concerts in England, fans began to congregate more frequently outside of EMI studios as well as Paul McCartney’s new home on Cavendish Avenue. They officially dubbed themselves “The Regulars,” and the Beatles knew them by name.

By 1967, the Beatles were no longer touring at all, and it was a bit of a mystery about what the Beatles were doing in the studio, so more and more fans began to gather around EMI. This was during the Sgt. Pepper sessions, when dedicated Regulars would spend hours outside in the cold winter weather for the chance to see the Beatles entering and exiting the building. They were not necessarily an organized group, and who made up the “regulars” would change from time to time. Girls would no longer hang around the studios because they had full-time jobs, school responsibilities, new husbands and children to care for, or just a change in interests.

Around 1969, there was a rift among the Regulars. Two distinct groups emerged. One was the girls who later became the “Apple Scruffs,” and the other was a group known as “The Baddies.” Baddies” were made up of mostly McCartney fans who didn’t care about breaking the rules to get to Paul. They were more likely to break into his house, or take something that didn’t belong to them. They were the ones that would say mean things to Linda or flash a camera in Ringo Starr’s face when he asked them not to. One Baddie went up to the Mull of Kintyre to see Paul and an altercation occurred. The Apple Scruffs were more likely to follow the rules. They did what the Beatles asked them to do, even if they didn’t agree with it. For some time, there was a feud between these two groups of fans, although they did eventually make up and become friends again.

8) They wrote a monthly fan magazine.

The official magazine of the Beatles, Beatle Book Monthly‘s last issue was published in December 1969. The fans in the Apple Scruffs took over where they left off in 1970 with their monthly Beatles publication called Apple Scruff Book Monthly. Inside of each issue, which cost 10 pence, were funny cartoon illustrations, news, inside jokes, and commentary on what was going on at Apple. John Lennon, especially, found the fan magazine to be entertaining and would send Mal Evans to buy the latest copy. Publicist Derek Taylor once said that he could be heard laughing loudly at some of the funny things that were published, especially the jokes about him and Yoko.

7) There were only nine original Apple Scruffs.

Nine girls made up the original Apple Scruffs from 1970. Not every single person who ever stood outside of Apple or EMI was an Apple Scruff, and, in total, only about 16 people in the world (give or take a few) can call themselves an official “Apple Scuff.” In her book Waiting for the Beatles, original Scruff Carol Bedford recalled that in order to become a member, you had to be nominated and the members had to vote you into the club. Once you were in, you received a membership card and a badge. One of the few male members, Jimmy, said in an interview from the late-1970s that while it looked like they were a “club,” they really weren’t club-oriented and a lot of things were just done as a joke.

6) George Harrison did not name them.

George Harrison wrote and sang the song “Apple Scruffs” as heard on his 1970 album All Things Must Pass, but he did not come up with the name of the group. The Apple Scruffs were most likely named by the fan who had been around the longest, a girl named Margo. Because they often would stay until the early morning hours outside of the studio, they would dress in warm, layered clothing. Some people said that they looked rather scruffy. And, of course, since the Beatles had formed Apple Records and they could be seen on the steps of Apple Studios, the name “Apple Scruffs” was a good fit for this small group of friends.

5) They were not “groupies” in the traditional sense of the word.

When most rock fans think of groupies, they think of girls who follow a band around and hang with them backstage in order to eventually have sex with them. The Apple Scruffs did hang around where the former Beatles were, but they were very innocent in their motives. Having sex with one of the guys was not something that they desired or expected to happen, and, as it happened, none of the girls in the Apple Scruffs ever had sex with a Beatle or member of the Beatles crew. While it might be difficult for some people to comprehend, these girls just enjoyed seeing the Beatles and having a friendship with them.

4) “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” is only partly about the Apple Scruffs.

John Lennon said during his 1980 Playboy interview that Paul McCartney was working on “Bathroom Window” when the two of them were in New York City to introduce Apple in May 1968. The Apple Scruffs did not form until January 1970. It’s been stated that Paul got the original idea for the song from a story told to him by a member of the Moody Blues about a groupie that snuck in through a window one night. Some fans, however, did sneak into Paul McCartney’s London home on Cavendish Avenue by using a ladder and getting in through the bathroom window on the second floor. Who exactly climbed through the window and was there that day has been debated among fans for many years. Whoever the culprits were, they took some of Paul’s clothing, as well as photos of the Let it Be sessions that Linda McCartney shot, and a photo of Paul with his father. Paul spoke with some of the fans that became Apple Scruffs and asked them to help retrieve his lost photos. It’s possible that those events that happened at his house renewed his interest in a song that he had started to write at least a year earlier.

3) Some of the girls in the Apple Scruffs went on to work for Apple.

There is this image that the members of the Apple Scruffs hung around and waited for the Beatles all day and all night. The truth is that most of them had jobs in London and several of them ended up working for Apple. One of the girls got a job as a tea girl and another worked at EMI studios and yet another worked as George Harrison’s assistant for a brief time.

2) The Apple Scruffs weren’t crying outside of Apple when Paul announced the breakup of the Beatles.

If you watch the video footage from the George Harrison documentary, Living in the Material World, you’ll see that when the breakup of the Beatles is discussed, footage of some girls crying is shown. People assume that those girls are the Apple Scruffs, and they’re crying because the Beatles had ended. In reality, the footage is of just two girls who were crying when Paul McCartney married Linda a year before the Beatles officially broke up. The Apple Scruff members didn’t cry on April 12, 1970; in face, there’s video footage of them singing a chorus of “Hey Jude” on the steps of 3 Savile Row and joking around with Ringo Starr. They weren’t surprised by Paul McCartney’s announcement, and were expecting it for quite some time. They also didn’t realize the full magnitude of the Beatles breakup at that moment. Three of the four members were still coming around frequently and making music together, even if they weren’t using the Beatles name.

1) Derek Taylor, Ringo, George, and John all became members of the Apple Scruffs.

Since the Apple Scruffs were always standing outside of the studio where the band was recording, it didn’t take long before the Beatles and those that worked for them got to know them on a first-name basis. And since the Scruffs were a fan club of sorts, they made Derek Taylor, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and John Lennon honorary members of the group. They gave them a special certificate and membership card. Derek Taylor was proud to be included and said in an interview a year before he passed away that he still had his membership card.

  • I wasn’t aware of the ASBS magazine before this; there’s probably a history that can be traced out there of fan movements during this time carrying on once the set got struck. It might be interesting to find parallels between the Scruffs and the Trekkies, and other organizations where the fans kept going after the “-30-” was typed…