This Day in Music, November 9: Obsessive Fans

By , Contributor

On this day in 2004, a Dutch man was jailed for nine months for harassing former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm. The unnamed 39-year-old had sent the singer parcels, letters, and tapes during 2001. Dutch police searched the man's home after he tried to hand deliver a parcel to Ms Chisholm's London home.

The court heard how Ms Chisholm, also known as Melanie C, changed the locks to her London flat and later fled to a safe house in northern England after receiving the mail. (It takes a lot to move back to Liverpool; ask Ringo, as the Beatles never did.)

The man told the court last month he loved the singer and had meant her no harm by his actions. He said he was upset when he realised the love was not mutual and always wrote his address on letters so he was easy to find.

Dutch media reported that the correspondence included a sexually explicit video.

It can be dangerous being a pop star — and from time to time you get to hear about the obsessive fan, who inevitably ends up on the wrong side of the law.

Probably the most extreme case was in 1996, when a bomb was found at a South London sorting office addressed to Icelandic singer Bjork. Police in Miami had alerted the post office after finding the body of Ricardo Lopez, who had made a video of himself making the bomb and then killing himself.

The 21-year-old was found dead in his Hollywood apartment after committing suicide. Before his death Ricardo had mailed an acid bomb to Bjork's London management. Scary stuff indeed.

In 1997 a disturbed rock fan brought the funeral of Michael Hutchence to a standstill when he tried to launch himself from a 20-foot high balcony with a cord around his neck. He was removed by police and taken away to a psychiatric unit.

George Harrison and his wife Olivia were attacked in 1999 when an intruder broke into their home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Olivia beat off the attacker with a poker and heavy lamp. Harrison, who was stabbed in the chest, was admitted to hospital and treated for a collapsed lung and various minor stab wounds. Olivia was treated for cuts and bruises she had suffered in the struggle with the intruder. Police later arrested Michael Abram from Liverpool, who had nursed an irrational obsession with the Beatles.

Sometimes the tables are turned: In 2000, Madonna's boyfriend (and later husband), Guy Ritchie, was arrested after attacking a fan outside the superstar's London home. Ritchie was said to have kicked and punched a male fan after the couple returned home from a night out. Lesson to be learned here: never ask Madge for an autograph when she’s been out on the town.

In 2003, Australian singer Kylie Minogue called in police to investigate a series of threatening letters. The singer became concerned after receiving 700 letters at her home and office. The letters started as ordinary fan mail but became increasingly aggressive. Seven hundred letters? Who has time to write that many letters? And what would you say in them? I have trouble writing a postcard when I’m away on holiday.

A couple of years later, a man who allegedly stalked another Australian pop star, Natalie Imbruglia, was deemed too mentally ill to be interviewed by police. The 44-year-old fan was arrested after turning up on the doorstep of the singer's £2m home in Berkshire after flying to London from Australia. Bloody hell, I hope he’s bought a return ticket, it’s a long way to go to be turned away.

In 2007, Brian May was under 24-hour security watch after a deranged man announced he was setting off to murder him — then disappeared. Police were hunting for a schizophrenic who left a letter behind at his home blaming the Queen guitarist for his illness. In it the man said May was an "impostor" and that HE was the real rock star. He signed the letter "Brian May."

And some fans you just can’t trust. Last year Johnny Marr was said to be "ecstatic" after getting back one of his guitars which had been stolen in 2000 after a gig at the Scala nightclub in Kings Cross, London. Smiths fan Stephen White told a London court he was "disgusted" with himself for taking the £30,000 cherry red 1964 Gibson SG when he went backstage after the gig at the Scala. Can you imagine? Mmm, that guitar looks nice, and Johnny’s got plenty of them, I’ll take that one. I can’t play the thing, but I like the color.

And on a lighter note, in 2005, the front door of Ozzy Osbourne's childhood home in Birmingham went up for sale because the current owner was fed up with fans defacing it. Ali Mubarrat, who now owned the house in Lodge Road, Aston, said over the years it had become a pilgrimage destination, with Ozzy fans from all over the world turning up and knocking on his old door. He was now auctioning the door on eBay and giving the money to charity.

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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