The “Paul Is Dead” conspiracy theory is growing

October 1969

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About

In 1967, a rumor considering Paul McCartney had died in 1966 and had been replaced by a look-alike started to emerge. But this rumor really grew in popularity in October 1969, a few weeks after the release of the “Abbey Road” album showing Paul barefoot on the cover (symbolizing him as a deceased) and a Volkswagen Beetle with a number plate “28 IF” (Paul’s age if he had lived until 1969).

On October 22, 1969, the “Paul is dead” rumor became an international news story. On the same day, Paul, his wife Linda, and their two daughters traveled to Scotland to spend time at his farm near Campbeltown. The days after, they were chased by reporters to comment on the rumors and had to give interviews (to the BCC and to Life Magazine).

I couldn’t understand it. First, someone said, ‘There’s a rumour going around that you’re dead.’ My first reaction really was just to think, ‘Great,’ really. Just like James Dean. I just immediately pulled myself back into 15-year-old suburbia, where I saw the James Dean thing enact itself. I was just pleased, you know, because I knew I wasn’t dead. So, I just watched the play happen.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

I am alive and well and concerned about the rumours of my death,. But, if I were dead, I would be the last to know.

Paul McCartney – Associated Press

Perhaps the rumor started because I haven’t been much in the press lately. I have done enough press for a lifetime, and I don’t have anything to say these days. I am happy to be with my family and I will work when I work. I was switched on for ten years and I never switched off. Now I am switching off whenever I can. I would rather be a little less famous these days.

Paul McCartney – From “Life Magazine”, November 7, 1969

From Wikipedia:

“Paul is dead” is an urban legend and conspiracy theory alleging that English musician Paul McCartney of the Beatles died on 9 November 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike. The rumour began circulating around 1967, but grew in popularity after being reported on American college campuses in late 1969. Proponents based the theory on perceived clues found in Beatles songs and album covers. Clue-hunting proved infectious, and within a few weeks had become an international phenomenon.

According to the theory, McCartney died in a car crash and to spare the public from grief, the surviving Beatles replaced him with the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest, sometimes identified as “William Campbell” or “Billy Shears”. Afterwards, the band left messages in their music and album artwork to communicate the truth to their fans. These include the 1968 song “Glass Onion“, in which Lennon sings “here’s another clue for you all / the walrus was Paul”, and the cover photo of their album Abbey Road, in which McCartney is shown barefoot and walking out of step with his bandmates.

Rumours declined after an interview with McCartney, who had been secluded with his family in Scotland, was published in Life magazine in November 1969. During the 1970s, the phenomenon was the subject of analysis in the fields of sociology, psychology and communications. McCartney parodied the hoax with the title and cover art of his 1993 live album, Paul Is Live. In 2009, Time magazine included “Paul is dead” in its feature on ten of “the world’s most enduring conspiracy theories”.

Beginnings

In early 1967, a rumour circulated in London that Paul McCartney had been killed in a traffic accident while driving along the M1 motorway on 7 January. The rumour was acknowledged and rebutted in the February issue of The Beatles Book, a fanzine. McCartney then alluded to the rumour during a press conference held around the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in May.[better source needed] By 1967, the Beatles were known for sometimes including backmasking in their music. Analysing their lyrics for hidden meaning had also become a popular trend in the US. In November 1968, their self-titled double LP (also known as the “White Album”) was released containing the track “Glass Onion“. John Lennon wrote the song in response to “gobbledygook” said about Sgt. Pepper. In a later interview, he said that he was purposely confusing listeners with lines such as “the Walrus was Paul” – a reference to his song “I Am the Walrus” from the 1967 EP and album Magical Mystery Tour.

On 17 September 1969, Tim Harper, an editor of the Drake Times-Delphic, the student newspaper of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, published an article titled “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?” The article addressed a rumour being circulated on campus that cited clues from recent Beatles albums, including a message interpreted as “Turn me on, dead man”, heard when the White Album track “Revolution 9” is played backwards. Also referenced was the back cover of Sgt. Pepper, where every Beatle except McCartney is photographed facing the viewer, and the front cover of Magical Mystery Tour, which depicts one unidentified band member in a differently coloured suit from the other three. According to music journalist Merrell Noden, Harper’s Drake Times-Delphic was the first to publish an article on the “Paul is dead” theory. Harper later said that it had become the subject of discussion among students at the start of the new academic year, and he added: “A lot of us, because of Vietnam and the so-called Establishment, were ready, willing and able to believe just about any sort of conspiracy.”

In late September 1969, the Beatles released the album Abbey Road as they were in the process of disbanding. On 10 October, the Beatles’ press officer, Derek Taylor, responded to the rumour stating: “Recently we’ve been getting a flood of inquiries asking about reports that Paul is dead. We’ve been getting questions like that for years, of course, but in the past few weeks we’ve been getting them at the office and home night and day. I’m even getting telephone calls from disc jockeys and others in the United States.” Throughout this period, McCartney felt isolated from his bandmates in his opposition to their choice of business manager, Allen Klein, and distraught at Lennon’s private announcement that he was leaving the group. With the birth of his daughter Mary in late August, McCartney had withdrawn to focus on his family life. On 22 October, the day that the “Paul is dead” rumour became an international news story, McCartney, his wife Linda and their two daughters travelled to Scotland to spend time at his farm near Campbeltown.

Growth

On 12 October 1969, a caller to Detroit radio station WKNR-FM told disc jockey Russ Gibb about the rumour and its clues. Gibb and other callers then discussed the rumour on air for the next hour, during which Gibb offered further potential clues. Two days later, The Michigan Daily published a satirical review of Abbey Road by University of Michigan student Fred LaBour, who had listened to the exchange on Gibb’s show, under the headline “McCartney Dead; New Evidence Brought to Light”. It identified various clues to McCartney’s death on Beatles album covers, particularly on the Abbey Road sleeve. LaBour later said he had invented many of the clues and was astonished when the story was picked up by newspapers across the United States. Noden writes that “Very soon, every college campus, every radio station, had a resident expert.” WKNR fuelled the rumour further with its two-hour programme The Beatle Plot, which first aired on 19 October.

The story was soon taken up by more mainstream radio stations in the New York area, WMCA and WABC. In the early hours of 21 October, WABC disc jockey Roby Yonge discussed the rumour on-air for over an hour before being pulled off the air for breaking format. At that time of night, WABC’s signal covered a wide listening area and could be heard in 38 US states and, at times, in other countries. Although the Beatles’ press office denied the rumour, McCartney’s atypical withdrawal from public life contributed to its escalation. Vin Scelsa, a student broadcaster in 1969, later said that the escalation was indicative of the countercultural influence of Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, since: “Every song from them – starting about late 1966 – became a personal message, worthy of endless scrutiny … they were guidelines on how to live your life.”

WMCA dispatched Alex Bennett to the Beatles’ Apple Corps headquarters in London on 23 October, to further his extended coverage of the “Paul is dead” theory. There, Ringo Starr told Bennett: “If people are gonna believe it, they’re gonna believe it. I can only say it’s not true.” In a radio interview with John Small of WKNR, Lennon said that the rumour was “insane” but good publicity for Abbey Road. On Halloween night 1969, WKBW in Buffalo, New York broadcast a program titled Paul McCartney Is Alive and Well – Maybe, which analysed Beatles lyrics and other clues. The WKBW DJs concluded that the “Paul is dead” hoax was fabricated by Lennon.

Before the end of October 1969, several record releases had exploited the phenomenon of McCartney’s alleged demise. These included “The Ballad of Paul” by the Mystery Tour; “Brother Paul” by Billy Shears and the All Americans; “So Long Paul” by Werbley Finster, a pseudonym for José Feliciano; and Zacharias and His Tree People’s “We’re All Paul Bearers (Parts One and Two)”. Another song was Terry Knight’s “Saint Paul”, which had been a minor hit in June that year and was subsequently adopted by radio stations as a tribute to “the late Paul McCartney”. According to a report in Billboard magazine in early November, Shelby Singleton Productions planned to issue a documentary LP of radio segments discussing the phenomenon. In Canada, Polydor Records exploited the rumour in their artwork for Very Together, a repackaging of the Beatles’ pre-fame recordings with Tony Sheridan, using a cover that showed four candles, one of which had just been snuffed out.

Premise

Proponents of the theory maintained that, on 9 November 1966, McCartney had an argument with his bandmates during a Beatles recording session and drove off angrily in his car, crashed, and was decapitated. To spare the public from grief, or simply as a joke, the surviving Beatles replaced him with the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest. This scenario was facilitated by the Beatles’ recent retirement from live performance and by their choosing to present themselves with a new image for their next album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In LaBour’s telling, the stand-in was an “orphan from Edinburgh named William Campbell” whom the Beatles then trained to impersonate McCartney. Others contended that the man’s name was William Shears Campbell, later abbreviated to Billy Shears, and the replacement was instigated by Britain’s MI5 out of concern for the severe distress McCartney’s death would cause the Beatles’ audience. In this latter telling, the surviving Beatles were said to be wracked by guilt at their duplicity, and therefore left messages in their music and album artwork to communicate the truth to their fans.

Dozens of supposed clues to McCartney’s death have been identified by fans and followers of the legend. These include messages perceived when listening to songs being played backwards and symbolic interpretations of both lyrics and album cover imagery. One frequently cited example is the suggestion that the words “I buried Paul” are spoken by Lennon in the final section of the song “Strawberry Fields Forever“, which the Beatles recorded in November and December 1966. Lennon later said that the words were actually “Cranberry sauce”.

Another example is the interpretation of the Abbey Road album cover as depicting a funeral procession. Lennon, dressed in white, is said to symbolise the heavenly figure; Starr, dressed in black, symbolises the undertaker; George Harrison, in denim, represents the gravedigger; and McCartney, barefoot and out of step with the others, symbolises the corpse. The number plate of the white Volkswagen Beetle in the photo – containing the characters LMW 28IF – was identified as further “evidence”. “28IF” represented McCartney’s age “if” he had still been alive (although McCartney was 27 when the album was recorded and released) while “LMW” stood for “Linda McCartney weeps” or “Linda McCartney, widow”. That the left-handed McCartney held a cigarette in his right hand was also said to support the idea that he was an impostor.

Rebuttal

On 21 October 1969, the Beatles’ press office again issued statements denying the rumour, deeming it “a load of old rubbish” and saying that “the story has been circulating for about two years – we get letters from all sorts of nuts but Paul is still very much with us”. On 24 October, BBC Radio reporter Chris Drake was granted an interview with McCartney at his farm. McCartney said that the speculation was understandable, given that he normally did “an interview a week” to ensure he remained in the news. Part of the interview was first broadcast on Radio 4, on 26 October, and subsequently on WMCA in the US. According to author John Winn, McCartney had conceded to the interview “in hopes that people hearing his voice would see the light”, but the ploy failed.

McCartney was secretly filmed by a CBS News crew as he worked on his farm. As in his and Linda’s segment in the Beatles’ promotional clip for “Something“, which the couple filmed privately around this time, McCartney was unshaven and unusually scruffy-looking in his appearance. His next visitors were a reporter and photographer from Life magazine. Irate at the intrusion, he swore at the pair, threw a bucket of water over them and was captured on film attempting to hit the photographer. Fearing that the photos would damage his image, McCartney then approached the pair and agreed to pose for a photo with his family and answer the reporter’s questions, in exchange for the roll of film containing the offending pictures. In Winn’s description, the family portrait used for Life‘s cover shows McCartney no longer “shabbily attired”, but “clean-shaven and casually but smartly dressed”.

Following the publication of the article and the photo, in the issue dated 7 November, the rumour started to decline. In the interview, McCartney was quoted as saying:

Perhaps the rumour started because I haven’t been much in the press lately. I have done enough press for a lifetime, and I don’t have anything to say these days. I am happy to be with my family and I will work when I work. I was switched on for ten years and I never switched off. Now I am switching off whenever I can. I would rather be a little less famous these days.

Aftermath

In November 1969, Capitol Records sales managers reported a significant increase in sales of Beatles catalogue albums, attributed to the rumour. Rocco Catena, Capitol’s vice-president of national merchandising, estimated that “this is going to be the biggest month in history in terms of Beatles sales”. The rumour benefited the commercial performance of Abbey Road in the US, where it comfortably outsold all of the band’s previous albums. Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, both of which had been off the charts since February, re-entered the Billboard Top LPs chart, peaking at number 101 and number 109, respectively.

A television special dedicated to “Paul is dead” was broadcast on WOR in New York on 30 November. Titled Paul McCartney: The Complete Story, Told for the First and Last Time, it was set in a courtroom and hosted by celebrity lawyer F. Lee Bailey, who cross-examined LaBour, Gibb and other proponents of the theory, and heard opposing views from “witnesses” such as McCartney’s friend Peter Asher and Allen Klein. Bailey left it to the viewer to determine a conclusion. Before the recording, LaBour told Bailey that his article had been intended as a joke, to which Bailey sighed and replied, “Well, we have an hour of television to do; you’re going to have to go along with this.”

McCartney returned to London in December. Bolstered by Linda’s support, he began recording his debut solo album at his home in St John’s Wood. Titled McCartney, and recorded without his bandmates’ knowledge, it was “one of the best-kept secrets in rock history” until shortly before its release in April 1970, according to author Nicholas Schaffner, and led to the announcement of the Beatles’ break-up. In his 1971 song “How Do You Sleep?”, in which he attacked McCartney’s character, Lennon described the theorists as “freaks” who “were right when they said you was dead”. The rumour was also cited in the hoax surrounding the Canadian band Klaatu, after a January 1977 review of their debut album 3:47 EST sparked rumours that the group were in fact the Beatles. In one telling, this theory contended that the album had been recorded in late 1966 but then mislaid until 1975, at which point Lennon, Harrison and Starr elected to issue it in McCartney’s memory.

LaBour later became notable as the bassist for the western swing group Riders in the Sky, which he co-founded in 1977. In 2008, he joked that his success as a musician had extended his fifteen minutes of fame for his part in the rumour to “seventeen minutes”. In 2015, he told The Detroit News that he is still periodically contacted by conspiracy theorists who have attempted to present him with supposed new developments on the McCartney rumours.

Analysis and legacy

Author Peter Doggett writes that, while the theory behind “Paul is dead” defied logic, its popularity was understandable in a climate where citizens were faced with conspiracy theories insisting that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 was in fact a coup d’état. Schaffner said that, given its origins as an item of gossip and intrigue generated by a select group in the “Beatles cult”, “Paul is dead” serves as “a genuine folk tale of the mass communications era”. He also described it as “the most monumental hoax since Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast persuaded thousands of panicky New Jerseyites that Martian invaders were in the vicinity”. In his book Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald says that the Beatles were partly responsible for the phenomenon due to their incorporation of “random lyrics and effects”, particularly in the White Album track “Glass Onion” in which Lennon invited clue-hunting by including references to other Beatles songs. MacDonald groups it with the “psychic epidemics” that were encouraged by the rock audience’s use of hallucinogenic drugs and which escalated with Charles Manson’s homicidal interpretation of the White Album and Mark David Chapman’s religion-motivated murder of Lennon in 1980.

During the 1970s, the phenomenon became a subject of academic study in America in the fields of sociology, psychology and communications. Among sociological studies, Barbara Suczek recognised it as, in Schaffner’s description, a contemporary reading of the “archetypal myth wherein the beautiful youth dies and is resurrected as a god”. Psychologists Ralph Rosnow and Gary Fine attributed its popularity partly to the shared, vicarious experience of searching for clues without consequence for the participants. They also said that for a generation distrustful of the media following the Warren Commission’s report, it was able to thrive amid a climate informed by “The credibility gap of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, the widely circulated rumors after the Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy assassinations, as well as attacks on the leading media sources by the yippies and Spiro Agnew”. American social critic Camille Paglia locates the “Paul is dead” phenomenon to the Ancient Greek tradition symbolised by Adonis and Antinous, as represented in the cult of rock music’s “pretty, long-haired boys who mesmerize both sexes”, and she adds: “It’s no coincidence that it was Paul McCartney, the ‘cutest’ and most girlish of the Beatles, who inspired a false rumor that swept the world in 1969 that he was dead.”

“Paul is dead” has continued to inspire analysis into the 21st century, with published studies by Andru J. Reeve, Nick Kollerstrom and Brian Moriarty, among others, and exploitative works in the mediums of mockumentary and documentary film. Writing in 2016, Beatles biographer Steve Turner said, “the theory still has the power to flare back into life.” He cited a 2009 Wired Italia magazine article that featured an analysis by two forensic research consultants who compared selected photographs of McCartney taken before and after his alleged death by measuring features of the skull. According to the scientists’ findings, the man shown in the post-November 1966 images was not the same.

Similar rumours concerning other celebrities have been circulated, including the unsubstantiated allegation that Canadian singer Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a person named Melissa Vandella. In an article on the latter phenomenon, The Guardian described the 1969 McCartney hoax as “Possibly the best known example” of a celebrity being the focus of “a (completely unverified) cloning conspiracy theory”. In 2009, Time magazine included “Paul is dead” in its feature on ten of “the world’s most enduring conspiracy theories”. […]

It was a bit weird meeting people shortly after that, because they’d be looking at the back of my ears, looking a bit through me. And it was weird doing the “I really am him” stuff.

Paul McCartney – From The Beatles Anthology

I was with Paul on the day that the rumour broke and he said to me, ‘Yes, it’s true. I’m not actually Paul McCartney. You know Paul McCartney, he didn’t have a scar on his mouth. I’m very like him, but I’m actually not him.’ I looked, and indeed there was a scar, but Paul didn’t have a scar. What had happened was that he had fallen off his bike (1966) and had got a scar since I last saw him [sic]. Of course, it was Paul, and he did kid me for two minutes. And for three minutes I did believe him.

Peter Blake – the designer of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

From the Drake Times-Delphic, September 17, 1969:

Lately on campus there has been much conjecturing on the present state of Beatle Paul McCartney. An amazing series of photos and lyrics on the group’s albums point to a distinct possibility that McCartney may indeed be insane, freaked out, even dead.

The Sergeant Pepper album, obviously, signified the “death” of the old Beatles who made girls scream when they sang “yeah yeah yeah!”. The new Beatles blew grass and dropped acid, criticized religion, studied under Maharishi in India, and had a new sound.

This album also started the hints that all was not right with the Beatles, especially Paul. On the front cover a mysterious hand is raised over his head, a sign many believe is an ancient death symbol of either the Greeks or the American Indians. Also, a left-handed guitar (Paul was the only lefty of the four) ties on the grave at the group’s feet.

On the back of the same album, George, Ringo and John are smiling out toward the camera, but McCartney has his back turned. George is pointing to ward a phrase from the song “A Day in the Life” pertaining to a certain Wednesday morning at five am. when some famous but unnamed person “blew his mind out in a car.” The other two Beatles looking out are also indicating phrases, one about gaining the world but losing the soul and the other about Wednesday morning at five.

In the centerfold photo of the foursome they are all looking the same direction. The only difference? Paul wears a black arm band.

The Beatles’ next album, Magical Mystery Tour, displayed a major ideosyncracy. On the front of this album all four are dressed in walrus sults, after the top tune on the record, “The Walrus.” No faces are visible, but three of the walrus suits are gray; the other is black.

Inside, under the words “The Walrus,” there is a phrase saying Paul is the walrus, not John, who sings the song. The walrus is supposedly the Viking symbol of death. In an introductory paragraph to the album, “4 of 5 magicians” are mentioned. Why?

Then came the group’s latest album: The Beatles, with an all-white cover. With this record the whole mystery became even more spooky. On the tune “Revolution No. 9″ there is a part where a lone deep voice repeats “number nine”. When this is played backwards a voice quotes “Turn me on, dead man,” and “Cherish the dead,” and there are many sound effects, including the noise of a spectacular auto crash.

In another song on the record, “Glass Onion”, the Beatles sing “Here is another clue for you all: The Walrus was Paul.”

So much for the clues, even though these are only a few of the many people are pointing at. There is a good deal of circumstantial ‘evidence’ available. For instance, Paul used to be the most flamboyant of the foursome; lately Lennon has had the spotlight.

Sure, people point to Paul’s recent marriage to Jane Eastman and the approaching birth of their baby, but there’s a kicker: McCartney has a brother, Michael, who could possibly be helping to carry on the hoax.

Another thing: everyone knows Paul was going with English model Jane Asher, so why all of a sudden was he married to Jane Eastman? Also, at the recent Bob Dylan concert at the rock festival on the Isle of Wight, three of the Beatles attended. Paul was conspicuously absent.

Now the discrepancies arise. Why, if something is wrong with Paul, are these clues dropped? It would be just like the Beatles to perpetrate a huge put-on like this, but there just seems to be more to it, such as the phone numbers discernable when the Magical Mystery Tour cover is held up to a mirror. […]

Tim Harper – From the Drake Times-Delphic, September 17, 1969:
From Home / Twitter

From Jesse Tedesci on Twitter: “OTD in 1969 #PaulMcCartney #LindaMcCartney https://t.co/4QK6YQxkXL” / Twitter – “Friday, October 24, 1969. BEATLE LOOKS ALIVE – Beatle Paul McCartney (right) walked from a plane after landing at the Glasgow (Scotland) airport. There had been rumors of his death for months. At left is McCartney’s wife, Linda, carrying their baby daughter, Mary. The photo was taken Wednesday Night”

From Melody Maker, November 22, 1969:

MACABRE rumours sweeping the States about the “death” of Paul McCartney have already spread to Britain and the Continent.

This week, an executive of an Austrian TV station phoned MM Editor Jack Hutton asking him to comment on the reports on a special TV programme.

The offer was rejected, on the grounds that Jack Hutton did not want to do anything to perpetuate such a morbid rumour. “I have had lunch with Paul since he was supposed to have been killed.” says Hutton.

Paul himself says: “It is all bloody stupid.”

Derek Taylor, Beatles PRO, told the MM on Monday: “Bad rumour blows nobody any good, but we have learned to live with it. But it has caused a great deal of negative work here.”

Derek is referring to the flood of enquiries that have hit the Beaties’ London HQ, Apple, since the story broke in the States.

The rumours have had one concrete — and not untoward — repercussion on the Beatles. Adds Derek Taylor: “The Sgt Pepper album has come back at No 124 in the American top 200, and the Magical Mystery Tour album has come back at 146.”

Both albums, of course, were previously long-term chartriders. Now Paul’s “death” has given them a new lease of life.

Barney Ales, executive vice president of Detroit’s Motown Record Corporation, has sent the MM an article which ran in the Detroit News opening with the words: “Is Paul McCartney dead?”

The story, under the byline of Sharon Cassidy, quotes rumours that Paul has “been dead for two years and the Beatles have been using a stand-in for him all this time.”

The article then lists “clues” that have given basis for the rumour:

“The picture of Paul on the Sgt Pepper album shows a hand raised over his head, so does the picture of him on Yellow Submarine. So do several pictures in ‘Magical Mystery Tour. Is the raised hand an ancient indian symbol of death?”

“The entire Sgt Pepper cover shows a group of people mourning by a graveside where the word Beatles is spelled out in red flowers. Directly under the red flowers is a group of yellow flowers in the shape of a three-string guitar, a bass guitar. If you look more closely the flowers spell out the word Paul with a question mark after it. Paul? Dead?”

“Is the four-armed Shiva on the bottom of the cover another symbol of death? If so, she’s pointing directly at Paul.”

The article points out that on the centre fold of the album “Paul’s wearing a black armband. None of the others are. The letters on the armband are OPD – Officially Pronounced dead?”

Paul’s comment on this, quoted by Life Magazine, is “I picked up that OPD badge in Canada. It was a police badge. Perhaps it means Ontario Police Department or something.”

The Detroit News article goes on to list other significant “clues.” Such as Paul being dressed in black slacks, a black belt and no shoes on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album. “People aren’t buried with their shoes on,” adds the article ominously.

“And the hints of his death go on. A million of them,” continues Sharon Cassidy. “All over the albums. A black carnation here, a black bouquet of flowers there. Paul in black when the other Beatles are in white…”

It cites a series of Beatles song titles to suggest Paul might have been killed in an automobile accident. “If so, it probably happened between 1965 and 1966, between Help and Yesterday And Today”

An article in Time Magazine says: “Those who believe McCartney is dead… are in part sublimating their fear of the grave.”

The article adds: “Conversely, ambiguous evidence of a public figure’s death will almost certainly provoke rumours that he is alive. Some People believe that Hitler is still at large… others contend that JFK (John F. Kennedy) carries on a vegetable existence in a well-guarded private hospital.”

Certainly, Paul McCartney is very much alive. And so is the Beatles’ latest album. Abbey Road is still firmly at No 1 both in America and Britain.

But the “death” rumour has brought forth a spate of single releases on the subject in the States with titles like “Brother Paul” and “Paulbearer”.

“Goulish” is how an Apple spokesman described them.

From Melody Maker, November 22, 1969
From Melody Maker, November 22, 1969
From Melody Maker, November 22, 1969

BEATLE NEWS. Thank goodness the rumours about Paul are over. It was quite a trying time for everyone, especially Paul who was on holiday in Scotland and who kept getting disturbed by people trying to verify things. One quote in a New York journal sensibly said “All you have to do is pick up a copy of Abbey Road the Beatles’ new album. A mans’ talent is unmistakable as his fingerprints.” (We all know that’s true in Paul’s case.) Beatles’ Press Officer Derek Taylor said in a recent article in one of the music papers, “The barefoot walk — believed to be a corpse symbol — was spontaneous, the hand (on Sgt. Pepper) was an accident, the phone number belonged to a hapless industrial correspondent on the Guardian who by day and night was expected by American callers to give bulletins on the “death”, the Volkswagen was parked purely by chance, the OPD spells Ontario Police Department and above all, Paul is alive.”

From The Beatles Book N°77, December 1969
From The Beatles Book N°77, December 1969

Last updated on November 20, 2021

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