melanie coe

London was a very different place in the ‘60s. I went to a club called the Bag O’ Nails [Soho] and I met everybody. You sat on the next table to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, because there weren’t many clubs in London. I got in coz I was a cute little girl and I dressed in the latest fashions. I’d go to Mary Quant and Biba, sketch the dress and get my aunt to make my clothes. Ready Steady Go! loved that. They held open auditions. I was 13. It went on what you were wearing and how you danced. I was asked to come every week. I met the Beatles at Ready Steady Go! George was great to meet - I looked a lot like Pattie Boyd, who later became his wife, of course.
I was always going out. I danced the night away and was a face in London. In those days, to be trendy everything had to be French. I bought the T-shirt of the moment, which was my star sign in French. I loved that T-shirt. One day I got home and my mother had cut it to ribbons. She wanted me to look like Princess Anne, not my idol, Marianne Faithfull. When my parents found out I had the pill they grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and made me flush them down the toilet.
I was 17 by then and ran away leaving a note, just like in the song. I went to a doctor and he said I was pregnant, but I didn’t know that before I left home. My best friend at the time was married to Ritchie Blackmore, so she hid me at their house in Holloway Road. It was the first place my parents came to look, so I ran off with my boyfriend, who was a croupier, although he had been ‘in the motor trade’ like it says in the song. I think my dad called up the newspapers - my picture was on the front pages. He made out that I must have been kidnapped, because why would I leave? They gave me everything - coats, cars. But not love. My parents found me after three weeks and I had an abortion.
I didn’t realize for a long time that the song was about me. Years later Paul was on a program talking about how he’d seen a newspaper article and been inspired by it. My mother pieced it all together and called me to say, 'That song’s about you!’
I can’t listen to the song. It’s just too sad for me. My parents died a long time ago and we were never resolved. That line, 'She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years’ is so weird to me because that’s why I left. I was so alone. How did Paul know that those were the feelings that drove me towards one-night stands with rock stars? I don’t think he can have possibly realized that he’d met me when I was 13 on Ready Steady Go!, but when he saw the picture, something just clicked.
—  Melanie Coe, the girl whom ‘She’s Leaving Home’ was written about, 2008
She's Leaving Home
The Beatles
She's Leaving Home

The story behind the song:

Melanie Coe made it to the newspapers, and this way to posterity in 1967, after she, then 17, ran away from her parent’s house in Stamford Hill, North London. The reason was that the wealthy teenager turned into a pregnant teenager and fearing her parent’s reaction, she escaped. 

She was found in Bayswater a week later and brought back to London, where after explaining her situation to her parents, the decision of having an abortion was taken.

This “little misadventure” was the inspiration for Paul McCartney, who composed “She’s Leaving Home”, one of the most beautiful ballads by the Beatles and included in their album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that same year. Curiously, that was not the first time McCartney knew about Melanie, as she was part of the dancing crew on the TV Show “Ready, Steady, Go!” in the early 60’s. 

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Melanie Coe, the “She” from “She’s Leaving Home”

Melanie Coe made it to the newspapers, and this way to posterity in 1967, after she, then 17, ran away from her parent’s house in Stamford Hill, North London. The reason was that the wealthy teenager turned to be a pregnant teenager and fearing her parent’s reaction, she escaped. 

She was found in Bayswater a week later and brought back to London, where after explaining her situation to her parents, the decission of having an abortion was taken.

This “little misadventure” was the inspiration for Paul McCartney, who composed “She’s Leaving Home”, one of the most beautiful ballads by the Beatles and included in their album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that same year. Curiously, that was not the first time McCartney knew about Melanie, as she was part of the dancing crew on the TV Show “Ready, Steady, Go!” in the early 60’s. 

After a marriage that ended up in divorce and a romance with Burt Ward, she is married to Anthony Sharman. She had two children and runs her own antiques business. 

This is Melanie Coe, the inspiration for “She’s Leaving Home”. Melanie had incidentally already met the Beatles three years before. 

“I first met Paul when I was 13 on Ready Steady Go! He presented me with first prize for miming to Brenda Lee’s ‘Let’s Jump the Broomstick,’ which meant I danced on the show for a year. We had spent a long day in the studio filming. John Lennon was aloof and unapproachable, Paul shook our hands, but Ringo and George were sweethearts, chatting to us all day.”

The clip can be seen on YouTube here

Scanned from “The Girl in the Song” by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson.

youtube

The most amazing fact about this video is that the young girl that won is Melanie Coe. Three years after this broadcast Melanie ran away from home and the article in the newspaper was read by Paul McCartney. This was his inspiration for writing the song “She’s Leaving Home” on the Sergeant Pepper album.