In the early ’60s, girls used to stand in line for three hours before the Beatles’ daily Cavern Club shows, sometimes clawing Starr’s future wife, Maureen, out of jealousy. In the late ’60s, when the group no longer played live, therewas a clique of hardcore female fans who would permanently hang around outside Apple Records or Abbey Road Studios, regardless of the weather, in the hopes of getting to chat with the Fabs. They’d come by in the morning for a while, then go to their day jobs, then return in the evening. Collectively, they were known as the Apple Scruffs.
Since McCartney lived in town, they also loitered outside his gates. “She Came in through the Bathroom Window” from ABBEY ROAD talks about when they snuck into his house and swiped some pants, which they all traded off wearing. They also took a photo, but gave that back when McCartney asked.
The Beatles also invited two of them (Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease) to sing backing vocals on the first version of “Across the Universe.” The song was given to the World WildlifeFund charity and is now on PAST MASTERS, VOL 2. One night, McCartney sang his new song “Blackbird” to them from his window.
During the early “Longest Cocktail Party” days of Apple, before all the Beatles grew to hate the legal turmoil brought on by their own label, Harrison and publicist Derek Taylor considered doing a musical about the place, at which point Harrison started composing Apple-related tunes. One of them, “Not Guilty,” would be rejected for THE WHITE ALBUM and resurface eleven years later on GEORGE HARRISON. Another was “Apple Scruffs,” which he finished for his first solo album.
While he was once sang “Don’t Bother Me” to his fans, in the early days of going solo he seemed to be trying to shore up his base with this wistful love letter. Perhaps he sensed that he’d never again experience such unwavering devotion.
Harrison’s evocative lyrics describe the Apple Scruffs waiting on the steps in the fog and the rain with flowers in their hands. His wavering voice momentarily veers toward good-natured exasperation, but the Dylanesque harmonica makes the overriding mood one of nostalgia for days already fading.